Knowledge Management seems to be making a come back. Like E2.0 or Web 2.0, KM 2.0 seems to be more about aggregating unstructured information with structured data (perhaps in a community, portal, team space, etc…).
Perhaps the explosion of applications like SharePoint have once again made organizations think about how to manage knowledge more effectively and invest time and money into related projects. While there is a promise that platforms like SharePoint will “do it all”, organizations have to move beyond simple document sharing and leverage these all-inclusive technology platforms as a collaboration system before it can be considered a system of knowledge. Users need to make the application part of their day-to-day as much as they live in their email inbox. And administrators and managers of Knowledge/Information Management systems must ensure they provide the right balance of governance, tweaking/development, care/feeding, and obtain the right consulting guidance to optimize the ROI and ensure users view the technology as a productivity tool that enables them to get their jobs done better, faster, and cheaper….. Then complete eco-systems (e.g. from IBM, Oracle, or Microsoft) can work very very well for communications, collaboration, community, and knowledge in large organization (both inside and outside the firewall). However, for traditional ECM/RM or larger knowledge management efforts like digital libraries or e-Commerce driven websites, these all-in-one platforms just may not be the best fit (esp. in larger organizations).
The challenges most organizations face with Knowledge Management are the cost of ownership, too many repositories, different taxonomies, and too many places to search. What we see today is really not any different than back in the 80s/early 90s with companies having 3,4, or 5 different email systems….and they realized they needed to standardize on 1 email system (novell, exchange, or notes generally).
While it seems most organizations finally have a solid handle on email systems some 10-15 years later, they need to now focus on information & knowledge management. These systems are not well governed and users inside the organization expect a Google-like experience in spite of all these challenges. Organizations have simply created an “information mess” in a rush to the web over the last decade. As a result, collaboration remains difficult and KM becomes even more challenging. No doubt KM 2.0 initiatives will fail today just like in KM 1.0 unless these same organizations think more holistically in their approach.
There is a tremendous economic benefit attempting to cleanup and consolidate different ECM systems into a single vendor platform (for the 80%) with a consistent and enterprise information architecture that organizes collaboration, information, and knowledge. While I don’t think 1 system will do everything required by the business, 80% is pretty good … while the remaining 20% might require a more unique/tailored technology solution (be it open source or a more pricey ECM solution).
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