Organizations are burdened with channeling knowledge and ideas in the form of training and learning to employees more rapidly, more effectively, and in an even more efficient manner than ever. In an effort to meet these objectives, organizations are seeking to consolidate disparate knowledge and learning technologies into a centralized point of access and management, while leveraging existing investments (legacy systems, resources, etc.) in enterprise infrastructure in order to provide employees with simple, seamless access to knowledge, training and learning.

The new economy is fueled by knowledge. Organizations possess incredible intellectual capital. The challenge has been, and continues to be, providing access to that capital and assembling it for development of best practices and collective learning. Once defined marketplaces are melding into one global marketplace. Human capital is now an asset to be scrupulously managed. Learning is a strategic advantage and weapon. Workforce supply is in flux - everyone's a free agent. The world is in a state of rapid-growth and hyper-efficiency - and its all beginning to blur at Internet speed. The critical and differentiating force of countries, organizations, and individuals lies in their knowledge and intelligence and how they use it in the new knowledge economy.

Succinctly put, Knowledge Management (KM) is the process through which organizations generate value from their intellectual and knowledge-based assets. Most often, generating value from such assets involves sharing them among employees, departments and even with other companies in an effort to devise best practices. KM is the broad process of locating, organizing, transferring, and using the information and expertise within an organization..

Not all information is valuable. Therefore, it's up to individual companies to determine what information qualifies as intellectual and knowledge-based assets. In general, however, intellectual and knowledge-based assets fall into one of two categories: explicit or tacit. Included among the former are assets such as patents, trademarks, business plans, marketing research and customer lists. As a general rule of thumb, explicit knowledge consists of anything that can be documented, archived and codified, often with the help of IT. Much harder to grasp is the concept of tacit knowledge, or the know-how contained in people's heads. The challenge inherent with tacit knowledge is figuring out how to recognize, generate, share and manage it. While IT in the form of e-mail, groupware, instant messaging and related technologies can help facilitate the dissemination of tacit knowledge, identifying tacit knowledge in the first place is a major hurdle for most organizations.

While it may carry a different name in the future, knowledge management anchors one end of the eLearning continuum and is vital to improving organizational performance.

The training function is accustomed to limiting its scope -- offering a curriculum that provides grounds for assessment. KM is open-ended, encouraging participants to share whatever works without an intermediary to translate things into lessons.