The 2019 Knowledge Management (KM) Summit was a meeting of senior knowledge management professionals from large US, UK and Canadian law firms. I organized the event with KM consultant Mary Abraham and Chief Knowledge Officer Oz Benamram from White & Case. Our preparations included an invitee survey that asked three questions:
- What are your top priorities for 2019?
- What did you focus on in 2018?
- What would you like to discuss with the group at 2019 meeting?
Respondents provided text answers and also checked tags to inform interpretation. We included 15 tags across multiple topics, including AI and data science, eDiscovery and litigation support, matter management, portals and security.
KM focus in 2018
For the past several years responses haven’t varied much. Yet we did find two notable changes in focus—what was actually worked on—from 2017 to 2018:
- Portals increased by 10%, not a surprise with rapid evolution in web design standards, which can make even a five-year-old portal appear quite dated. And as firms want to tap more data sources, portals are a natural environment for organization and access.
- Security is up by 12%, likely driven by cybersecurity threats and move to a security model in which only those with a “need to know” have access to matter documents.
KM priorities in 2019
Priority gaps this year are bigger than last year, with a few changes of note:
- AI and data science work has lagged its stated priority. The hype around artificial intelligence has declined and, faced with competing demands, both firms and KM professionals likely saw more immediate benefits from other pursuits.
- Two of the hottest KM trends are enterprise experience management and security. We are not surprised both of these areas would draw strong intent. We think less action was taken because both are quite difficult.
- A jump in selling KM internally reflects the biggest change, at 17 percentage points. As knowledge management matures, KM professionals tend to believe that the selling is done, but the reality is that promotion must remain active and ongoing.
KM Summit survey conclusions
We draw two main conclusions from our survey:
- Knowledge management remains robust. Each year we find more firms with formal KM processes managed by skilled KM professionals, and the interest in the Summit grows steadily each year.
- KM is now a balance of core activities and ever-changing goals and initiatives, from tending to the basics like forms management and technology upgrades, to innovations like process improvement or empowering new methods of collaboration.
Technology is one area of knowledge management that is both a core activity in terms of maintenance and upgrades, as well as a new initiative in terms of new technologies and emerging disciplines like AI, data analytics and experience management.
AI fervor may be settling down, but this nascent technology will affect and occupy the attention of many professionals, including KM teams, for years to come. As AI hype declines and our collective learning increases, we venture this AI prediction:
Artificial intelligence will increasingly shift to data and data analytics. We see a growing understanding in the market of the value of data assessment and analysis. Moreover, without good data, there is no good AI.