KM Conversations—360º Access Part 1: Types of Content

Stan Garfield

Stan Garfield

November 14, 2019

Knowledge management core activities are sharing, innovating, reusing, collaborating, and learning. To reuse useful content and learn from both internal and external information sources, users need complete and flexible access.

They should be able to use a variety of channels, including the ones they most prefer. These include web browsers, desktop apps, mobile apps, search engines, email subscriptions, and mobile notifications.

Another way to access both internal and external content is through integrated applications. These systems can integrate multiple information sources using application programming interfaces (APIs).

Providing a 360-degree view of your information has three key dimensions:

  1. Access to internal content, both structured (e.g., accounting data) and unstructured (e.g., documents)
  2. Access to external content (e.g., subscription databases)
  3. Connecting to expertise for advice and assistance

In this first part of a three-part series, I’ll define the different types of content. These include internal—both structured and unstructured—and external. There will be a companion free webinar series starting on December 9th (registration link at the foot of this post).

Internal Content


Structured content is separated into independent parts, making its behavior more predictable. It is planned, developed, and connected outside of an interface—so it’s ready for any interface. It treats content as data, so it makes sense to people and computers. And it conforms to structural and semantic rules that allow machine processing to meet specific business requirements.

Following are examples of internal structured content.

Sales and Marketing systems include Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Sales Management, Marketing Management, Lead Generation and Tracking, Order Processing and eCommerce, and Reservation Management.

Operations systems include Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Operations Support, Engineering, Manufacturing, Distribution, Logistics, Inventory and Stock Control, Scheduling, Process Control, and Procurement.

Research & Development and Medical systems include Research Management, Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS), Scientific Information Management, Intellectual Property Management, Clinical Information System (CIS), Hospital Information System (HIS), Electronic Medical Record (EMR), Electronic Health Record (EHR), and Drug Information System (DIS).

Financial systems include Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, General Ledger, Budgeting and Planning, Forecasting and Reporting, Expense Management, Funds Transfer, Investment and Portfolio Management, Shareholder and SEC, and Tax Processing.

Human Resources systems include Talent Management, Recruiting and Hiring, Personnel Data, Payroll, Staffing, Performance Management, Time Entry, Expense Reporting, Travel, eLearning and Learning Management System (LMS).

Other systems include Project Management, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Executive Information System (EIS), Management Information System (MIS), Decision Support System (DSS), and specialized applications such as libraries, museums, and archives.

Data files include databases, big data, data warehouses, data models, and data analytics.


Unstructured content is information that either does not have a predefined data model or is not organized in a predefined manner. Unstructured information is typically textual, visual, or audible, but may contain data such as dates, numbers, and facts. This results in irregularities and ambiguities that make it difficult to understand using traditional programs as compared to structured content.

Following are examples of internal unstructured content.

Documents include handbooks, guides, frequently asked questions (FAQs), proposals, presentations, processes, procedures, policies, methodologies, white papers, case studies, meeting minutes, notes, reports, plans, lessons learned, proven practices, brochures, literature, specifications, product descriptions, summaries, briefs, articles, essays, books, periodicals, and references.

Communications include announcements, correspondence, memos, messages, texts, communiqués, questions and answers (Q&A), newsletters, stories, anecdotes, conference calls, audio recordings, videos, photos, and images.

Training includes courses, tutorials, and webinars.

External Content

External content is any information that exists outside the firewall of an enterprise. It may be available for free on the Internet, or accessible only to paid members or subscribers.

Following are examples of external content.

Market research includes product intelligence, competitive intelligence, customer intelligence, and market intelligence.

Subscriptions include news, press releases, databases, industry data, analyst reports, periodicals, blogs, podcasts, streaming video, and audio books.

Online sources include websites, repositories, libraries, archives, knowledge bases, forums, and communities.

Offerings from major providers (Apple, Amazon, Google, and Microsoft) include search engines, intelligent assistants, maps, news, translation, photos, shopping, books, scholarly publications, chat, music, and apps.

In the second part of this series, I will discuss connecting to expertise for advice and assistance.

Stan Garfield

Stan Garfield

KM expert, consultant and author, Stan Garfield, will be presenting a new series of KM Conversations for Lucidea, starting on Monday, December 9th at 11:00 am Pacific, 2:00 pm Easternsubscribe here to be notified. Stan has compelling information to share, based on his distinguished career as a KM practitioner. Read his posts for our Think Clearly blog, and learn about Inmagic Presto, which has powered the KM  initiatives of many organizations.

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