KMWorld 2018 in Washington, DC concluded last week. Since the event combines attendees registered for the Enterprise Search & Discovery, Taxonomy Boot Camp, Text Analytics Forum, and Office 365 Symposium sub-conferences, co-located exhibitors hear an interesting mix of challenges and views related to knowledge management. Not surprising, some attendees are tasked with finding solutions to very narrow problems such as creating a labeling taxonomy to a set of documents or how to configure Sharepoint to improve search results. As an enterprise search provider in the age of AI, it’s not easy to withhold the bigger idea that, “Heh, you can get a lot more with AI-POWERED SEARCH”.
In the rush to keep up with customer demands, organizations are launching digital transformation initiatives without considering the effect these plans will have on employee productivity.
Why would strategies that improve customer experiences have a negative effect on employees? Because more often than not, they contribute to the growing silos of information spread across the organization. The very information that employees need to perform their jobs.
The Digital Workplace Faces Many Challenges
For an organization to be successful, real transformation must happen internally as well as externally. When it doesn’t the challenges employees face can feel insurmountable:
Too often we think about effective search in terms of finding the right content on a website. But for enterprises across the world, effective search is equally important internally, to groups like Sales and Support. And it’s even harder to achieve when "Know Your Customer" is the driving force.
“Knowledge workers are workers whose main capital is knowledge.” (Wikipedia)
It seems like a simple definition of a knowledge worker, someone who works with information (knowledge) as a primary part of their job. But what many are only starting to realize is that there are far more “knowledge workers” in their companies than they ever realized.
Almost every employee needs information to do their job effectively. There are few exceptions. There’s the airline pilot who needs to know flight plans, and runway map; the caseworker who works with disadvantaged youth and is looking for support groups and programs they can attend; the line worker in a car factory that’s trying to improve a key process; and customer service agent who helps customers figure out how to use their products.
In 2015, technology consultant Tim Powell blogged that in the early 2000s many organizations were very disappointed in their knowledge management (KM) efforts—some of which were multimillion dollar undertakings. The main complaints centered on integrating KM into organizational workflows and KM’s failure to produce a substantial ROI.
Powell’s experience squares with the general knock on KM, which has always been that they’re big, complex, expensive projecst that rarely deliver the promised benefits. Closely related to this was the fact that older generation KM solutions imposed rules on users the enforcement of which was practically impossible. But without the enforcement of those rules, KM didn’t work very well. So user adoption was often tepid.