The 5 Big Differences Between a Knowledge Base and Knowledge Sharing
, Alexandre Caulier
Information is your organisation’s most valuable asset. The problem is that your information is tied up in employees’ brains, emails, agenda notes, workshops, webinars, and more. With your information spread all over the place, chances are that your team is redoing work, miscommunicating, and taking longer to complete simple tasks.
As your organisation grows, you need a way of documenting this data so both your employees and customers get the information they need—fast. Information management is a good framework for controlling this flow of information, but in practice, your organisation has to choose between two knowledge solutions: a knowledge base or a knowledge sharing platform.
5 key differences between a knowledge base and a knowledge sharing platform
People like to use these terms interchangeably, but they’re very different things.
A knowledge base is a type of self-serve information portal. It’s like a digital encyclopedia: a user inputs a query and the knowledge base spits out a list of potential answers. If you’ve ever had a problem with your iPhone and consulted Apple FAQ, you’ve used a knowledge base.
Knowledge sharing platform
A knowledge sharing platform, on the other hand, elevates the information in your knowledge base. It synthesizes different information sources, like chats, emails, and meeting notes, into one place for authorized users to access. It also facilitates real-time interaction and engagement between users, creating a single source of truth for both employees and customers.
Let’s dig into the differences a little deeper.
1. Community features
Have you ever checked out a brand’s Q&A or FAQ section, only to find that it didn’t answer your question? Traditionally, a knowledge base doesn’t have the features or capabilities to answer your specific query. That’s because it only shares one-way data (like an encyclopedia).
A knowledge sharing platform like Elium, on the other hand, allows your internal and external stakeholders to post questions and share answers in a community forum. If your FAQ fails to address a customer issue, for example, you can fill the gaps with a knowledge platform’s community features—something that isn’t offered in a traditional knowledge base. The benefit is that a knowledge sharing platform breaks down information silos by facilitating more opportunities for interaction.
2. Versioning and up-to-date content
How often do brands go back and update information in their FAQ or knowledge base? It’s easy to overlook old information in a knowledge base because of its simple structure.
It’s common for users to accidentally upload new documents without archiving old information. That means knowledge bases often have repetitive and conflicting information. Unless you’re regularly sifting through a knowledge base with a fine-toothed comb, chances are that you’re sharing outdated information.
Knowledge sharing platforms give you more versioning power to ensure information is up to date. For example, Elium’s system flags information at a certain date for review. Administrators can pull regular reports to see if (and how) users are accessing certain information to decide what needs archiving, too.
3. Search functionality
Both knowledge bases and knowledge sharing platforms have search functionality. However, the nature of the search is different because of each solution’s’ backend settings.
For example, knowledge bases use a very simple data structure. You can search for information based on keywords in the file name, but if you get those keywords wrong, you won’t find the answer you need.
Organisations see more value in knowledge sharing platforms because of their advanced search features. The search functionality scans resource content, up-to-date content, popularity, and other metrics to find the most relevant information for a user’s search.
Who has access to your information?
In a knowledge base, you have little control over user permissions because of its simple, inflexible structure. You’re usually able to have one administrator and one level of user access. But if you need multiple tiers of user permissions, a knowledge base won’t cut it.
Knowledge sharing platforms like Elium give administrators the power to designate multiple user levels, controlling who has access to what types of information, as well as how they can use or edit that information. If you frequently handle sensitive or complex data, a knowledge sharing platform is a more robust option.
Many organisations start with a knowledge base and later expand into a knowledge sharing platform. That’s because a knowledge base often can’t address all of the types of information in your organisation, especially as you grow.
Knowledge bases may be fine in the beginning when users have simple questions, but as you add layers of complexity to your organisation, you’ll need features like:
- Rich data and file formats
- Important messages promoted
- Expert review
Elium includes all of this (and more) to expand with your business as you evolve over time. Avoid the hassles of migrating down the road and start on the right foot with a knowledge sharing platform.
Move forward with a knowledge sharing platform
Everyone needs fast access to reliable information. Instead of sequestering your data in hard-to-reach places, give your team and your customers more value with a smart knowledge sharing solution.
Elium is a scalable, modern knowledge sharing platform that helps you tackle increasingly complex challenges. Elium makes your information more accessible and shareable, transforming your information into action. See the expert difference firsthand: Sign up for your free trial now.