Knowledge management shifts to new ways of thinking


The most recent issue of Image & Data Manager magazine has an article titled Knowledge management gets a social life, drawing extensively on an interview with me. Sections of the article that quote me as below:

“Organisations have been trying to find ways to make knowledge management more productive, but a lot of problems have stood in the way,” says Ross Dawson, chairman of Future Exploration Network. “But we have now moved into a new phase of emerging technologies.”

Dawson likes to refer to this organisational shift as Enterprise 2.0, where the tools and approaches of Web 2.0 are now captured inside the enterprise. “It’s about getting group input to create an emergent response, getting many people to create input,” says Dawson. “You can click input, tag input and rate input and as you get more input on creating outcomes, emergent results occur. Things get better the more people that use them.”

Just as Web 2.0 tools can determine what does and does not work online through the power of mass appeal; this user-generated input can also assist everday business operations. “In the enterprise you can map sales – you could for example, find out what the weather was and how It affected sales, and make it easier for anybody to bring together different data-sets,” says Dawson. “This is where it all starts to be knowledge management.”

For organisations, harnessing the capabilities of Web 2.0 could involve replacing the traditional taxonomy with a user-defined folksonomy. “A taxonomy is where people analyse and prioritise ways for classifying information,” says Dawson. “A folksonomy is built by everyone, there is no architect and no designer. It’s created by the people who actually do the work.”

The article goes on to quote Scott Farquhar of Atlassian on wikis and emails, and then back to me:

“Enterprise 2.0 is about moving beyond email. Email is broken as a communication tool,” says Dawson. “People are getting so much in their inbox, they can’t keep up with it.”

My recently released Web 2.0 Framework (click on the image below for the full framework) encompasses all of these ideas. All of the tools and emergent results created by Web 2.0 in the open web are equally relevant inside the enterprise. The key differences that remain are scale and motivation to participate.

Web 2.0 Framework

For many years I’ve sought to disassociate myself from the field of knowledge management (see my article on the Future of Knowledge Management from a few years back for why). I just think there are more useful ways of thinking about how to create value from knowledge in organizations. Nonetheless I’ve agreed to speak again at KMWorld this year, 6-8 November in Silicon Valley, after several years not speaking at the event, the largest knowledge management conference globally. My speech will be on Successful Enterprise 2.0 and Social Media, in which I’ll delve into the drivers successfully implementing the full range of social media tools inside organizations. I’ll provide some more detailed content on what I’ll cover in my presentation before then.

  • Ross, I’m looking forward to your KMWorld preso. I hope you share it here. I am presenting a broadly similar piece at the IIM National Conference in Canberra next week