Current State and Future Direction of Digital Knowledge Management in Small and Medium Enterprises


  • Yannick Dassen Laboratory for Machine Tools and Production Engineering (WZL) of RWTH Aachen University
  • Luca Liehner Human-Computer Interaction Center (HCIC)
  • Philipp Brauner
  • Simon Storms
  • Werner Herfs
  • Martina Ziefle



Knowledge Management, SME, Shopfloor, Production Engineering, Regional


Systematic knowledge management is a decisive competitive advantage. While large companies can successfully implement knowledge management through dedicated people, tools, and processes, this topic poses major challenges for small and medium-sized enterprises. In this paper, we present the results of a qualitative study of knowledge management practices in different small and medium-sized enterprises. The results show that while on the one hand employees are aware of the importance of strategic knowledge management, on the other hand knowledge management is insufficiently implemented in the companies. Further, we also found that the potential of digital knowledge management is currently untapped. Consequently, there is a threat of knowledge loss due to staff turnover against the backdrop of demographic change and changing employment patterns. This likely loss of knowledge threatens the competitiveness and viability of the small and medium sized companies. Based on our findings, the article concludes with actionable recommendations for companies and future research tasks.