Well..it isn’t actually a civil war but the knowledge management (KM) front line is divided between software engineers and knowledge managers (kmers). Recent advances in the field of social collaboration technology have given rise to new tools that complement well with the fabric of KM (specially third gen KM) but this does not mean that by pursuing a tech solution KM will reach the desired results. This is where the divide occurs.
A couple of months ago I came across a Medium article written by Leo Grimaldi, a Google software engineer. He stated that “the common thread among github, medium, and slack will define the future of our knowledge economy”. As I read on I found that the underlying argument was that technology will thrust forward collaboration, an statement that most kmers deplore. He mentioned that sites such as GitHub have been able to connect 14 million people across 35 millions repositories and although this is indeed a huge achievement, it´s only reflecting data from a social platform which is not strictly business oriented or mirrors an actual company’s structure and challenges. What companies are really looking for is to manage their strategic knowledge as opposed to focusing on any type of knowledge that won’t necessarily add value. This is something that tech alone won’t secure.
However, it’s important to take note of the advances that companies such as Slack, Bittrix24x and Stample are achieving. They offer very neat and dynamic KM platforms for organizations that will definitely assist collaboration efforts. We must also keep in mind that Facebook will soon join in with Facebook for Work and that Google recently purchased Kifi order to boost the google spaces platform (Kifi´s concept is to connect people with knowledge) so that teams can improve collaboration. This is happening at a time where KM had practically abandoned the “tech first-strategy later” approach and has begun to focus on central business drivers for knowledge to really be used as a competitive advantage.
For example, in order to get teams to collaborate and work as networks you need to identify specific change management strategies and apply them. You need to work closely with community leaders and business managers not only to make things happen but to align goals and identify what critical knowledge really needs to flow in that network. Tech alone won’t make that happen but a KM model without a tech component won’t contribute to connect teams that might be geographically dispersed.
So are we divided? Not entirely but kmers and software developers are not really working together so it seems like KM has two sides. I’m very certain that If we are able to connect both we will be able to create a more solid and fast paced strategy that will certainly drive better results. I don’t know what it will take two connect both teams but I´m raising the question here.
© Jose Carlos Tenorio Favero