I was asked recently to “state the future for Knowledge Management over the next five years”. This got me thinking what, if anything, has changed about the focus and mandate of Knowledge Management (KM). In my perspective, the goals and focus of KM have deepened, not changed. So, to me, the future of KM is quite interesting, but it’s not so much a future of CHANGE as it is of evolving MATURITY.
Knowledge Management has always focused on two fundamental business capabilities: the ability to DEVELOP and to DELIVER knowledge to every point of request and need. The proliferation of online and offline content and search tools, sophisticated content and web delivery models has not changed these two fundamental tasks. If anything, the establishment of the internet as a core service and support platform (THE platform in many industries, and growing), as well as the rise of social media and mobile computing, has increased the importance of getting these two capabilities right. The number of information channels and tools, combined with the seemingly endless places where information is generated and stored, makes KM more critical than ever.
In that regard, the drivers of future knowledge management ACTIVITY will be in support of these ever-growing mobile, social and internal channels of delivery. The drivers of knowledge management CAPABILITY will center around how to take the vast array of information sources and formats, and synthesize and synchronize them to deliver high quality, consistent user experiences for each channel. Such capabilities will include:
- The ability to render meaningful context within and among content sources, so they show up in support of every interaction needed, at just the right time for those interactions, in just the right format.
- Ability to integrate content and process together such that information can appear dynamically in support of specific actions or transactions, and/or that transactions themselves can spawn and delivery knowledge as a relevant outcome.
- Tools that can map across information sets to coordinate and rationalize different content types and schemas, in ways that business users/SME’s can manage effectively.
- Support for the almost infinite array of sources that could live in one common knowledge view: ability to identify, qualify, and secure WHO is providing information, and WHO should see it.
- Ways to get meaningful visibility into what knowledge users truly need and use, to progressively tailor and refine knowledge-driven user experiences to provide highest value
- Platforms that are built to leverage knowledge: that can consume a rich context model, use it to drive tailored user experiences, and provide management tools that support progressive widening and evolution of both the information inputs and experiential outputs that are growing at an accelerated rate in almost all KM environments.
In short, these core capabilities of KM have never been more important, and will be the factors that make or break successful organizations in the future. As customer, consumer and citizen use and expectation of online knowledge delivery continues to grow and rise, those organizations that can provide high-value, consistent, easily used knowledge will become the preferred ones, even as they avoid being overwhelmed by the complexity and cost of sub-optimized content management and delivery mechanisms.
(John Chmaj is Chief Knowledge Strategist, KANA)