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Is Knowledge Management dead?

September 24, 2013

Home Blog Is Knowledge Management dead?

iStock_000016745994XSmall/scibak/editedThis may be a provocative question for a company like LAC Group, which offers Knowledge Management consulting services.

Yet this question has been asked for a few years now, so if it’s true, it’s been a long time coming. In a Google search on that very phrase, nearly 5 million results came up and I found reputable content dating back to 1999. (Though I guess the long-term viability of lots of things were being questioned during that year.)

Our experience is that the goals and objectives of capturing and managing organizational knowledge for continuous improvement and better decision making remain valid and important. However, as the creation and sharing of information is evolving rapidly and profoundly, so too is the concept of “knowledge management” changing.

In their 2000 Management Tools Survey, consulting giant Bain & Company discovered that 28.5% of senior executives reported using KM tools, placing it #19 in a list of 25 top management tools.

Their 2013 report, however, doesn’t include “Knowledge Management” as one of the 25 most popular tools, which are:

(alphabetical order)

  • Balanced Scorecard
  • Benchmarking
  • Big Data Analytics*
  • Business Process Reengineering
  • Change Management Programs
  • Complexity Reduction*
  • Core Competencies
  • Customer Relationship Management
  • Customer Segmentation
  • Decision Rights Tools
  • Downsizing
  • Employee Engagement Surveys*
  • Mergers and Acquisitions
  • Mission and Vision Statements
  • Open Innovation
  • Outsourcing
  • Price Optimization Models
  • Satisfaction and Loyalty Management
  • Scenario and Contingency Planning
  • Social Media Programs
  • Strategic Alliances
  • Strategic Planning
  • Supply Chain Management
  • Total Quality Management
  • Zero-based Budgeting*

Looking at this list, I was struck by two items that were newly added this year – Big Data Analytics and Complexity Reduction. (Note that the items with an * are new.) It seems that big data is becoming the new holy grail of knowledge, and ironically, complexity is an an unwanted side effect.

Helping people uncover important nuggets of information and making sense of all that data – context – are perhaps the new Knowledge Management goals. It’s why our metadata and research capabilities are seeing greater interest and demand.

We’re not suggesting you throw out your Knowledge Management system. Yet we also have seen many KM systems and initiatives that are too big and complex. A simple approach that gets used is much more valuable than lots of bells and whistles. What matters is the heart of it: being able to discover and make use of information, no matter what format it’s in or what label you give it.

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