What Is The Difference Between Knowledge Base And Database

Database and knowledge base system

At its surface, a database is a collection of raw facts, whereas a knowledge base stores useful information as a solution to problems, facilitating rapid search and reuse. But there’s more to them than that. Let’s find out.

What Is A Knowledge Base?

For all practical purposes, a knowledge base is your organization’s library. It is a collection of documentation that consists of guides and instructions and has been published, typically, to answer all the frequently asked questions.

It is designed in a way that makes it easy for users to find solutions to their problems through self-service. And it works, because 91% of customers say they would use an online knowledge base if it were tailored to their needs.

You collect all the information about what you offer and how it works and put it in one place, organize it, and call it a knowledge base. But like any source of information, say a library, the knowledge base must contain all and only relevant information.

What Is A Database?

The database is a structure that holds organized information. A typical database consists of numerous tables with, again, numerous fields and records. For instance, a database may hold information about your product inventory, your employees, your clients, and your finances.

The purpose of a database is to organize the way you conduct business and keep the relevant information at your fingertips. 

How Are Knowledge Base and Database Different?

In day-to-day life, terms like knowledge, information, and data are often used interchangeably.  However, these terms are distinct and, by extension, so are knowledge base and database.

Think of data as any piece of meaningful information, and information is any data put in context. Knowledge is what you call using the data, along with our experience, to build and arrive at a decision.

For instance, a blood sugar reading of 250 mg/dL is called data. It is information to know that the reading is high, and it’s the knowledge that the subject either consumed a lot of carbs or is diabetic.

A database stores data points like the above in a relational or hierarchical order and fulfills certain qualities or parameters, such as follows:

  • ACID Properties – Atomicity, Consistency, Isolation, and Durability collectively are the hallmarks of a database. These properties ensure that the data is available to all the users consistently in the same format.
  • Flat Data – Data laid out in tables in either numbers or alphabets.
  • Longevity – Databases in a corporate environment are deployed to hundreds of thousands to an even larger count of information fields. Hence, these databases need to persist beyond specific uses and hold data for decades on end.
  • Multiple User Support – Since a whole team, if not an entire organization, handles the official database, it must offer multi-user support.

On the other hand, the term “knowledge base” was originally coined to differentiate knowledge-based pointers from the rest of the database. In clearer terms, knowledge bases are supposed to use databases to create higher and more abstract concepts.

So, when we try to build a knowledge base, we must assume there must exist a database. It is like using the list of ingredients with measurements to create a well-rounded recipe.

What Is A Knowledge Base Used For?

Knowledge bases are built for two main purposes for machines and for people to use and learn from.

As for the second use case, knowledge bases are targeted at both internal and external audiences and can solve problems of varied natures. For instance, an Antivirus company may maintain installation and troubleshooting guides, and FAQs for the customer side of the spectrum and also have an internal knowledge base for work-related tools and company policies to be used by its employees.

Knowledge base - Acquire
Knowledge base system – Acquire

The use case can obviously be extended if the subject material is accessible to not just the relevant audiences but to anyone interested in the field.

What Is A Database Used For?

Databases offer an extremely wide array of use cases in every industry, from websites to warehouses. For instance, banks use databases to keep track of customer account information, transactions, and, obviously, employee records.

Retail businesses will use it to keep track of inventory, sales, and websites will use databases for login information, payment details, preferences, among other things. Surmising databases are virtual filing cabinets used wherever data needs to be stored and retrieved.

What You Need To Consider While Implementing Knowledge Base

Creating a knowledge base is a highly complex venture and will take more than a few articles, FAQ sections, and a help desk for you to call it a day. Here are a few things to consider while going about it.

Make It Accessible To Everyone

Most of the organizations today are broken up into silos, and so are their knowledge bases. For the documentation intended to be used by employees, this pattern prevents the information from being accessible in between departments. 

According to a 2018 survey on 1,000 workers, 33% of them had problems versioning the documents, 49% struggled to even locate documents, and 39% were sure that their documentation system was broken. In other words, a knowledge base is only as good as how quickly information can be sourced from it.

Optimize It For Search Engines 

When in doubt,  89% of the millennials will first perform a Google search before reaching out to customer service. Hence, you must ensure that the knowledge base is optimized and its content ranks at the top of Google’s search results.

Use A Style Guide 

Before creating a knowledge base, you must first take a step back and think about its tone and the approach you want to take so that the voice remains consistent from the beginning till the end.

Treat It Like One Of Your Products

Assuming documentation as an afterthought is a huge mistake that businesses make. Alternatively, treating it like one of your products ensures it is assigned just as much time and consideration. After an initial investment, it is self-service for your customers.

Allow Feedback

Your customer experience will always lag behind if you don’t pay attention to what your customers have to say. On the other hand, inviting and encouraging them to provide feedback will help you improve the standards of your documentation.

These are just a few pointers to help you create an excellent knowledge base, but it’s crucial to note that it’s always a work in progress.

Final Thoughts

A database is really very different from a knowledge base. The former is necessarily a structure to hold data, and the latter is developed by analyzing it and building relations from it. When creating a knowledge base, it’s imperative to keep all the moving parts in check and frame a foolproof strategy before you commit to it.

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