Last week I was invited by Nigel Freitas to participate in a panel discussion about Knowledge Management (KM) for Sky News Australia’s Technology Behind Business show.
Technology Behind Business examines trends and analyses key IT concepts. Each week an expert panel focuses on one type of technology or strategy, explaining its use without the jargon, outlining the pros and cons and providing tips for all types of businesses. The panel in this episode included Felicity McNish from Woods Bagot and Gerhard Voster from Deloitte.
You can watch the entire panel discussion on the Sky News Website.
It is actually challenging to define KM quickly in a way that is both understandable to people new to the topic but that will also satisfy those already familiar with the idea. There are of course those who like to grandstand and declare KM is dead or never existed in the first place, but personally I still think the KM concept has a role even in the era of social software.
But what does KM looks like today? There are a number themes in Social Business Design that resonate particularly for me, some of which I hinted at during the panel:
- The Connected Company – encouraging us to understand the nature of large, complex systems, and let go of some of our traditional notions of how companies function.
- The Shift to Systems of Engagement – the importance of focusing on non-transactional systems.
- Data-Driven Business Improvement – the role of ambient sharing, dynamic signals and various other types of indirect or weak ties between people in networks.
Related ideas are also reflected in the themes highlighted by the other panelists:
- Felicity McNish from Woods Bagot (who were recently recognised with a 2011 Asian Most Admired Knowledge Enterprise (MAKE) Award) talked about the importance of mobile access. This really points to the concept of addressing “place” in the people, places and things model of KM.
- Gerhard also mentioned Deloitte’s use of social media internally as part of its approach to KM. Similarly, both across Dachis Group and within the Headshift | Dachis Group team itself we have been long term users of social software for collaboration and KM. A great deal of our collective knowledge is readily available thanks to the flow of social tools, but we recognise it doesn’t entirely remove the need to deliberately create opportunities for learning, building social capital and knowledge sharing.
The key commonality here is that knowledge management isn’t (and never should have been) just about information or data management; but neither is it dominate to such related disciplines.
Incidentally, I wrote about the future prospect of mobile knowledge management back in 2005, for Image & Data Manager magazine. I said then:
“While the business use of such software may not be immediately clear, the growing interest in social networks, communities of practice and the use of narrative and storytelling techniques within organisations will generate demand for a new generation of KM tools that help employees to record events and facilitate serendipity using tools that are familiar and intuitive.”
Hmm. Sound familiar?
If you are interested in understand more about the intersection of knowledge management and social business design, take a look at some of our case studies – many of them include elements of knowledge management and social learning.