E L S U A ~ A KM Blog by Luis Suarez

From the blog

Into the Big Blue Yonder

Social networks are very powerful, aren’t they? Every single day that goes by it amazes me the incredible potential social networking has got both inside and outside of the corporate world and just beats me why not more and more knowledge workers are making extensive use of them to be able to share their knowledge amongst themselves and collaborate with others in a much more efficient and effective way. Here is the latest example I have bumped into in the last couple of days: Into the big blue yonder – IBM gambles on a shift from the KM model.

Yes, indeed, over the last week or so, a couple of good friends from various social networks, where we all hang out,  kindly pointed me to this very good and enlightening article from Rob Lewis, from KnowledgeBoard, titled "Into the big blue yonder", where you would be able to read how IBM is shifting away from the traditional Knowledge Management space and moving into an area that is starting to flag as Knowledge Sharing and where the focus is not only that traditional KM, but a blend with the next generation of knowledge sharing tools, i.e. social software tools and social computing, in general.

Like I said, the article makes for an interesting reading and thought I would just mentioned a couple of quotes that I feel would be relevant for the different discussions held in this blog in the not so distant past. After all, Rob mentions several quotes from yours truly that I have shared in various blog posts in the recent past, so why not, right?

"IBM now sees organic and unimposed sharing as the biggest agent in the circulation of knowledge. Its stated strategy is to facilitate that sharing, not through any vertically integrated structure but through the empowerment of its many communities and individuals to network as openly and efficiently as possible."

Does it ring a bell? For someone like myself who got started with traditional Knowledge Management when it was at its prime time many many moons ago, I am finding it quite fascinating the shift that corporations have started to make to such new model where (online) communities help drive the adoption and embracing of social software within the corporate world and beyond. It’s actually thanks to those communities that things are changing rather rapidly. Innovation is thriving and it is rather encouraging to see how traditional KM is starting to let knowledge workers take advantage of these emerging social software technologies in order to perhaps be more productive, be more in control of the knowledge and collaboration flows and manage their own knowledge and experiences, where for the first time, they themselves are in control vs. the corresponding organisation(s). Refreshing is the word that comes to mind!

But there is more:

"“If we can build sufficient maturity in our internal communities, they can take on that role,” Cooper says. “They will start to become actively responsible for the education of their members and for the identification and generation of new intellectual assets.”"

I am sure that for those folks who have been doing community building all along the above paragraph will sound as something they would say it is pretty much common sense, but I am thinking that such involvement from communities into the workplace is actually helping them have a paramount role in helping knowledge workers engage closer with one another, sharing their knowledge, collaborate and innovate as a result of that process, and all of that in an environment where communities allow for plenty of free form type of interactions to take place and in a protected space at the same time, i.e. that one of the community itself, thus breaking the hierarchies, traditional structures and organisations to empower, once again, knowledge workers to be in control of the knowledge they  try to manage.

From there onwards the article covers a number of the different IBM social software tools that have been fully operational for a good couple of years already. Examples like BlogCentral, which is currently going over the 200,000 blog entries & comments, or WikiCentral, with over 200,000 IBMers collaborating in it on a regular basis. From there onwards Dogear, along with QEDWiki, Jams, BluePages (IBM’s corporate employee directory) and several other technologies get a mention and although some of the statistics would probably need to be updated, it is still worth while a read.

But if there would be a quote with which I feel rather identified from the article article, apart from those other ones that were extracted from various other blog posts I have put together in the past, this would be the one that clearly represents where we are and where we are moving:

"“It’s a social cultural thing,” says McNairn. “If you’re a company with something to hide, you’ll stay away from social networking. But IBM wants to embrace those tools, and then take them to the extreme to see how valuable they’ll be from a business perspective.”"

That, to me, folks is what Enterprise 2.0 is all about and why I am surely looking forward to keep pushing the limits, because after all, are there any in the social computing space? I doubt it… It will be down to us all to decide whether we would want them or not… and somehow I feel that we already got the answer to that one!

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