Knowledge Management and the Sharepoint Era

1st generation KM, nicknamed the tool era, was crawling with technology solutions.  Many years later we are still looking hard at technology and we seem to be heading towards a new generation nicknamed the Sharepoint era.

It seems clear that the future is likely to involve more technology, not less. The temptation therefore is to engage more with it and in terms of KM we are now presented with an array of tools which have taken up center stage in the development of the strategy. Careful consideration is now given to the social component which was missing from 1st generation KM. Developing KM meant spending money on intranets which finally ended up being used as information repositories. Today that drab outfit has been replaced by social platforms which actively engage users and are looking to become authentic knowledge creation and transfer stations.

What cannot be overlooked, however, is that technology is not the core solution. KM effectiveness won´t be measured for the quality of the platform; it will be measured by how much it has impacted in the organization´s results. You need to design the KM strategy, carried to the point of identifying and developing the organization´s critical and strategic knowledge. This goal requires creativity, deals with complex issues and requires coordination among many functions in the organization. Also, avoiding culture carries some severe penalties.

You need to design the KM strategy, carried to the point of identifying and developing the organization´s critical and strategic knowledge. (photo: strategic knowledge identification workshop- Grupo Graña y Montero, Lima,Peru)

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Avoiding culture carries some severe penalties. Work on connecting people, promote spaces to share and create knowledge collectively. (Photo: Community of Practice- Application Outsourcing; Graña & Montero, Lima, Perú)

Once we have connected the dots and developed the strategy we can start to look at technology. What has changed from 1st generation Knowledge Management is that “social” technology has being integrated into the fabric of people and we didn’t have this before.  Workspace collaboration is changing as we speak and we can´t turn a blind eye to Gen Y and Millennials social behavior.

So if you’re looking to start your KM journey don’t get carried away and start off with technology. Yes we live in new and exciting times, but technology is powerless unless you have a clear strategy. Don’t get hooked to the “Sharepoint Era”.

© Jose Carlos Tenorio Favero

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8 responses to “Knowledge Management and the Sharepoint Era

  1. Good article. Within the realm of KM, technology serves its purpose best when it structures and optimizes the capture and exchange of knowledge – the knowledge flow between humans. Social has been the key focus of ‘wave 3’ of KM, Mobile will be the one for KM-4.

    • The question is whether or not executives are actually in touch with the need for “social”. I personally view mobile as part of “wave 3” and would focus more attention on understanding Gen Y and Millenial social behaviour. It´s hard to innovate, adapt, or thrive if you build on top of systems that prevent true integration or at least match how employees and customers connect and communicate outside the organization.

  2. Hi Jose Carlos

    Much as I agree with your final conclusions, I disagree with your opening statement that “1st generation KM, nicknamed the tool era, was crawling with technology solutions”

    As someone who was there doing KM in the 90s, I know there was as much, if not more, focus on connecting people and on face to face, person to person communication of Knowledge than there is now. I explain more here
    http://www.nickmilton.com/2010/02/km-10-myth.html

    If anything, the technology focus came later (version 2.0) as the vendors jumped on the bandwagon. It is still with us – the vast majority of KM World’s “100 companies that matter in KM” are technology vendors. Over-focusing on technology is not an old habit we need to break, it is an omnipresent risk.

  3. Hi Nick, Thank you for sharing such a thoughtful article. Your question opens up a debate with those that view 2nd Gen KM in the words you used to describe 1st Gen . It’s incredibly important to consider that during the 90s we saw many initiatives which aimed at connecting people but overall feeling is that once the anthem ended, we were taken into custody by technology….

  4. Hi José, well said. But having a strategy designed and in place is not sufficient for success. If your KM project is not accompanied by a change project you won’t be successful. The change project should cover people, processes and technology issues. It’s not sufficient just to train people in the new tool.

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