One of the KM weblogs that I tend to follow and which I quite enjoy is the one by Ron Young on KM Consulting. He always has got some refreshing views about KM, what it is and where it is heading. Take, for instance, his last weblog post, KM, Resurgence and New Technologies. In it Ron comes to talk about the fact that everyone seems to be seeing a come back from Knowledge Management thanks to the emerging technologies / offerings behind Web 2.0. But at the same time he is also questioning if it is actually going to happen or if KM will fall again under the scope where the highest focus goes into the technology. Once again.
I think he has got a valid concern and I do hope, like him, that will not happen again. I think that we, KM advocates, have been having more than enough already with that same subject and we certainly know where the harm could be coming from. However, I also feel that there is a fundamental difference for this new come back from Knowledge Management. And that is the fact that as opposed to a few years ago, the focus now is not on the technology itself. No it isn’t. At least, I don’t see it that way. Instead, I feel that the focus is actually in how the technology could become a powerful enabler to help people connect, collaborate with one another and share their knowledge and their experiences, specially if they are distributed elsewhere.
The fact that we now have examples like Wikis, Weblogs, Syndication, Podcasts, and whatever other social networking tool only comes to put the emphasis on the people themselves. Not on the technology. It is these same people who are at the epicenter of the whole movement behind KM and all that thanks to that social software that I have been talking about a few times already. Mainly because for the first time in a few years KM has now become much more personal, involved and committed from a knowledge worker perspective. People are willing to share what they know, collaborate with others because those tools make it easier for people to connect with one another. They enable people to be the center of the knowledge sharing process and not vice versa.
So perhaps this time around KM will eventually be restored to the role it once had as a critical business process that every company would be incorporating so that its knowledge workers could take the most benefit from that knowledge sharing and reusing of Intellectual Capital. Mind you though, it is not going to be an easy road, more a bumpy one if anything else, but equally exciting since we are breaking uncovered ground here. But this time around we already have got some experiences and know what worked and what didn’t. And leveraging that key aspect would perhaps become the key fundamental success factor for this KM come back. Time will tell. Or, better, people will tell.