When the intranet boom hit in the late 1990s, the possibility of what it might deliver for organisational knowledge management was exciting. But little thought was put into how that knowledge would be managed and structured to keep the resource alive and now, 15 years on, most organisations are left lamenting their stagnant reservoirs of stale information.
Solutions like Sharepoint have done little to rejuvenate this once promising function. Some consistent problems that we have observed within clients’ incumbent solutions are:
- Knowledge Silos - without centralising information and making it uniformly - and intuitively - available to everyone, an organisation tends to suffer from silos of information that mirror the departmental structure; producing assets that are often duplicated across the business, rather than built on and improved upon.
- People Clusters - equally, just as knowledge can form in silos so can people cluster within those silos. The same people end up sharing the same information and consequently only knowing a certain limited pool of the same knowledge. As that information resides in these silos, the organisation’s overall collective knowledge remains constrained.
- Knowledge Segregation - instead of being a heterogeneous pool of content, most information repositories discriminate between documents, videos, images and so on. The result is that unless one piece of content references a different form of content, then documents reside only among other documents, for example, video’s saved in drives remain ignorant of related videos, images or documents.
- Knowledge Ghost Towns - without active usage and promotion, most reservoirs of data and information remain secrets known by only those employees who frequent them - meaning an inequity in knowledge across the organisation.
- Information Anarchy - without quality control, moderation and approval workflow on the contribution of information to the collective resource, the overall experience of using the resource and the value of it can be impacted negatively causing it to be circumvented by those who have disappointing outcomes from its use.
Enter the Social dynamic. Suddenly, organisations are realising that Enterprise Social Networking (ESN) and Social Collaboration Tools are bringing a new life to these otherwise stale environments. Social injects current and flow into these listless receptacles of content. The next generation of web technologies are turning the internet into a furious torrent of knowledge - search, Social cross-referencing, gamification and so on - these vast libraries of articles, white papers, reports and other forms of pertinent analysis are once again vibrant and rich.
For instance, the way we at Mumba have engineered our Knowledge Management solution - Knowledgebase - takes advantage of the way that people interact around information on the internet. We have designed our Knowledgebase application to respond directly to the issues identified above so that an organisation can unlock its intellectual potential in the way that it can easily surface relevant information intuitively and seamlessly.
Key areas of focus include:
- Ownership - by associating every document with an employee profile, you enable content producers to build a brand in this company resource. Rather than a faceless, the author is accessible for further reference. Transparency is key and has added benefits such as exposing expertise that can be called upon for special projects.
- Accessibility - the methods for sourcing information have improved exponentially in the last 5 years and Mumba Cloud leverages all the benefits. Not only is search incredibly rich and intelligent, but also other forms of social categorisation and tagging mean that information is quickly discoverable on any device.
- Collaboration - by building upon best practice in the wider Social world, our Knowledgebase empowers very effective collaboration in the way that documents become hubs for contextual discussion. As each piece of information is discovered and discussed, it is brought back again to the surface meaning information continues to be rejuvenated. Analogous to injecting a jet of new water into the bottom of a stagnant pool, this process builds a frenetic community around the knowledge, keeping it alive.
- Gamification - as if ownership wasn’t incentive enough for people to contribute and comment, the characteristics of modern corporate gamification inspire employees to add value, share, comment and disseminate in return for digital badges and rewards. Every organisation should be a centre for learning around its core subject area and these modern features play to basic human nature by rewarding and celebrating contribution.
- Rich Content - by making it easy for employees to unleash their creativity in terms of video, audio and graphics, an organisation’s knowledgebase can evolve from a fairly lifeless store for static documents to a thriving community of creative and engaging content which ultimately makes the destination itself exciting and “sticky”.
- Governance - posting approval workflow and other forms of implicit quality control are key to ensuring the knowledge and overall experience is useful and dependable.
We have surprised our clients with the possibilities of what such a resource can mean for the ways in which information is shared around their organisation and the way in which Corporate Memory is preserved and leveraged instead of neglected and ignored.
As well as being fun, rewarding and creative; there’s an important role such a solution can play. Next to its people, the total knowledge an organisation owns is one of its most essential assets. Any investment in rejuvenating this asset and making it easy to use will see rapid return in productivity and talent development.