Knowledge sharing happens partially with technology, and also successfully without software. For this post, let’s focus on the first: technology. When we look at web-based KM tools, then they are normally hosted in the companies’ intranet. In my experience, these knowledge sharing tools are often add-ons to the classic intranet platform. Recently, many people argue (see also New Edge in Knowledge, chapter 1 ‘Primary Directives’) that knowledge sharing activities should happen in our daily work, in order to overcome usage barriers. Then, knowledge sharing tools that are an add-on might not be the right approach. Therefore, I would like to put some thoughts about corporate intranets together; what are they used for and how can they contribute to knowledge sharing in our daily work.
When discussing intranets, I would like to suggest that they are used for the following topics (I admit, this is an idealistic view):
- corporate topics: spread messages from the CEO office, human resources, etc / access to corporate tools like HR tools, CRM, time & expenses, etc
- teams (functional or project teams): discussions and collaboration on documents, notes / sharing of individual information / web conferencing
- communities (groups of people gather around a specific topic): discussions and collaboration on documents, notes / sharing of individual information / stay in contact with experts in the same field
- individual usage: personal information management: documents, bookmarks, notes / manage personal relationships and contacts
- global usage: search and find experience & expertise in discussions, documents, people profiles / access to business tools for a specific function
- external topics: integrate external news sources (RSS) / integrate external partners (e.g. suppliers) into communities
Tools that should be implemented in my eyes are:
- (micro-) blogging for thoughts, status & location updates, question, etc
- wiki tool to collect information around topics, lessons learned, and even travel information; this can be used by individual (e.g. personal notes), groups (e.g. project reports) and by all in the intranet (e.g. encyclopedia)
- bookmark management which allows to aggregate related information from internal and external sources with relevant tags
- social computing functionality as in connecting to friends, apply tags, rating (like), commenting on the above tools
- creation of groups (teams / communities) which hosts discussions, documents and sharing of the above tools
- profile pages which contain aggregated information based on the person’s activity, favourite tags, groups, friends, etc
- news feed that is aggregating internal updates plus external RSS feeds based on the users friends, groups and favourite tags; plus the feed can contain featured items like messages from the CEO
This last point might be the core of an intranet and the entry point for the user; it delivers immediate work-related and interesting information, personalised for each person. As a reader, you might easily imagine a matrix between the above usage topics and the tools below which will indicate which tool is used in which situation.
What I try to describe here is an intranet that is centred around the people and their connections; compared to classic intranets which focus on (central) information capturing and broadcasting. A people-focused approach might allow to make information capturing on demand; this means content is contributed either when somebody needs to know it or when somebody wants to express it. Further, a social intranet will enable users to filter the content based on the activities of their peers; what they read and tag might be interesting for colleagues having similar interests and working in similar functions. In the end, this approach might lead to more efficient and effective knowledge sharing within an organisation.
How would you design an intranet? How is your intranet contributing to the flow of experience & expertise?
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