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Achieving Knowledge Management for an Organization

November 17, 2010

I'm Jim Glenn, KARL Champion at Six Feet Up.  I and Calvin Hendryx-Parker, CTO of Six Feet Up are attending KMWorld2010 in Washington DC this week.  I attended multiple sessions on Tuesday, and wanted to summarize some of the key features I got out of the sessions I attended.

One of the best sessions I attended was "Intranets in 2015" by James Robertson, Managing Partner, Step Two Designs.  James went into a couple of user stories and how an Intranet in 2015 might solve the problems. One of the key features he stressed was the user experience, the ability to pull together the right information quickly and easily into a page for the issue at hand.  

He focused his talk on the user experience and needs instead of what technology an IT department might find easiest to support or deploy. This is an important requirement for any organization trying to implement a solution. As an employee of an organization, it is not important to me where the data is, whether the cloud or behind the firewall.  Employees do not care what technology the solution is built in.  

Many employees outside of work use technologies and sites that are impressive in their user experience. Many use technologies like Facebook, Twitter, E-mail, Google Search and many other technologies.  An organization will often have an external website that is very "sexy" and functional to reach new customers, but when it comes to providing employees with sites and tools, an organization is willing to tell employees they need to live with ugly formats, multiple logins, various silos of information.  This is an area that desperately needs to be fixed for our future intranets.

So, the question for organizations is "how?" How does an organization make large changes on company's intranets and solutions to provide employees the same level of excellence they can expect from non-company websites?

James recommends starting from user stories.  Walk through some of the employees' days to determine what information would be useful and how to present it.  An organization might be missing some "data" in order to implement a solution or the data might in silos and just not integrated.  BUT, if the focus is to develop for a solution in 2015 that gives an organization 5 years to get there.  Continually take small steps toward the desired direction of integration.  Help solve the employee's problems and not strain the employee to the technology. 

This is an awesome approach to handling these knowledge management issues.  Throughout the rest of the day, I seem to see a pattern in the talks.  Different organizations are at different places in their implementation of knowledge management goals.  There is a culture to change to approach the need and adoption of knowledge management initiatives. 

 From a technical perspective, there seems to be some key areas an organization will need to address to achieve a knowledge solution that works for them. 

The first area for an organization is to use tools for data collection and storage.  This involves capturing those processes and the data related to it as well as other content created by the organization.  

Next is organization-wide search.  There were quite a few talks on various types and successes of creating an organization wide search.  In capturing data many organizations end up with various silos of data.  Organization search allows users to pull data from multiple sources to better complete the picture of a solution for their specific question or problem. 

With great data comes the option for analytics.  If an organization has the capability to search and retrieve information from various silos of an organization, the next step toward turning that information into knowledge is performing some version of analytics.  I attended one presentation on building organizational network analysis (ONA) which created another view of relationships of an organization. 

Finally, dashboards create custom views of the data.  There were quite a few presentations on the use of custom dashboards customized for specific user groups in an organization.  Searching, retrieving, and presenting custom content for an employee to perform their job functions can make a more effective employee.  These dashboards often involve analysis of work flows, data flows, and requirements for different groups of employees performing different functions throughout the day. 

Overall, the Knowledge Management World 2010 Conference seems to be addressing many of the questions of how an organization can bring together needed segments of their organization's knowledge for the success of the company and employee. If you are at the conference, you can follow us on twitter (#kmw10) or find us in the halls.  We would love to have a conversation about knowledge management issues.

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