KM and Christmas Don’t Mix

David Gurteen took a recent look at the new Google Trends tool, and noted the dominance of Asia and developing countries in searches for the topic “knowledge management”. I got interested and decided to dig deeper.

The tool will tell you the proportion of searches for a particular search string, relative to the total number of searches from that country/city/language group. So here’s the tidied up results table for comparing knowledge management, information management, records management, document management, content management. (Try the same search yourself by clicking here).


There are a few things that interested me.

1. That year end dip across all categories of search… everybody loses interest in KM around Christmas time!
2. There’s a much higher interest in information management and content management than knowledge management.
3. There’s a steady decline across all categories except records management, which follows a minor, relatively stable note.
4. News items on the other hand, follow a general upward trend, and are not in synch with the search volumes (content management dominates).

David Gurteen speculated on the reasons for the downwards trend, and asked whether more knowledgeable people might be searching for sub topics of KM instead. However, when you look for topics like “KM Strategy”, “KM Framework”, “KM Champion”, “Knowledge audit”, there isn’t enough search volume to get a Google Trends report. The only topics I could find comparative data for were “taxonomy”, “community of practice” (apparently this is a preferred search term over “communities of practice” and “information audit” ) – see the search by clicking here.

Here we get a much broader geographic spread in the top ten searching countries, and the suprising fact is that taxonomy dominates searches, with CoPs and information audits lagging far behind. True enough, although the interest in taxonomy seems to fluctuate wildly (it is a somewhat taxing topic, and my interest waxes and wanes with the moon, too), its general trend over the last two years is broadly flat, as it is with CoPs. Information audits (when you look at the detail) have a gentle downard drift. So whatever detail we can find suggests that knowledge management topics are not declining as much in search popularity as the general topic is. A current Knowledgeboard discussion seems to feel that KM is in fact gaining momentum (thanks Denham).

Overall, it seems that the technical disciplines of managing information and content are of much more interest than human-oriented approaches.

But here’s the interesting bit: look at the detail of trends in searches for CoPs compared with information audits here. CoP-friendly countries are Philippines, Australia, Ireland and India. Singapore only just makes it to the list. Yes, there’s a year end drop, but it’s much flatter and gentler than the sharp drop in interest in all other KM-related categories. Are CoPs more Christmas-friendly?

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