Back in the 90s, Knowledge Management was being heralded as one of the best use cases for content management. The goal of Knowledge Management was to effectively capture and reuse an organization’s knowledge. That’s a lofty goal and it’s not a surprise that most Knowledge Management failed miserably.
There were many cultural, organizational, and process reasons for the failures of Knowledge Management but one of the main reasons was the technology. Back in the 90s, the technology to capture, manipulate, share, and reuse content was still in its infancy. In fact, most vendors indirectly admitted as much when they stopped marketing Knowledge Management as one of their offerings.
But the customers haven’t given up on it.
In fact, I keep running into customers and prospects with “Knowledge Management” on their business cards. And, rightfully so! There are some major demographic related issues that drive the demand for Knowledge Management.
Many customers I meet face the problem of an aging workforce. According to the Bureau of Labor Statics, there are numerous industries with a median workforce age over 50. I’ve seen organizations with an average workforce age over 55. In fact, the Stanford Center on Longevity predicts that by the year 2020, the 55+ years old workers will represent 25% of the workforce!
This is a workforce that is not Internet natives. They are not millennials. They didn’t grow up digital. A lot of their knowledge and expertise is not in a corporate repository. It is in the decades of notes stored on paper and in their heads. In a few years, those employees will retire and their knowledge will leave the organization. Often, this knowledge is mission critical and it has to be captured, processed, shared, and reused.
Does that sound familiar?
Yes, that’s exactly what Knowledge Management is supposed to be all about. Knowledge Management is needed more than ever before and, finally, the technology has advanced mightily since the 90s. Today, our ability to capture information in the form of paper, voice, images, drawings, video, and other content is very powerful. So is our ability to ingest, index, and manipulate the content. We have structured and unstructured data analytics which help to make sense of all that information. Finally, we have compelling responsive experience, mobile devices, and cloud environments that help us share and consume the information effectively.
Knowledge Management is needed and increasingly, Knowledge Management is possible. Maybe, it’s time to start promoting Knowledge Management again. Because this time, it might actually work.