Knowledge Management in Intranets

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):

Tools that should be implemented in my eyes are:

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?

3 Comments so far

EphraimJF

This is a great explanation of what a “social intranet” is Tim, especially “an intranet that is centred around the people and their connections.”

ThoughtFarmer (http://www.thoughtfarmer.com) is a great example of social intranet software that brings people to the forefront in every possible way.

The result is a very human, living intranet and an online environment highly conducive to knowledge sharing.

Posted on July 06, 2011 at 04:14 AM | Comment permalink

David Hobbie

Tim, I like your groupings of use cases for a social intranet.  It strikes me that perhaps corporate topics might be better served by a content-centric intranet approach, but that all of the other topics are better served by a people-centered approach.

I think two of the major improvements that could arise from a more people-centric intranet is increased employee engagement/motivation, and enhanced trust outside the “narrow circle” of close peers, both of which are crucial for knowledge sharing.

Posted on July 07, 2011 at 04:14 AM | Comment permalink

Tim Wieringa

@David, I agree with your point that corporate content today is a rather content-centric topic; though, think of a CEO blog which over time can create a person behind the role of the CEO and people would start to engage more with them.

There is also other corporate topics like business applications (HR, finance, ...) which don’t follow to the people-centric approach; though, modern CRM system for a change should be like that.

I totally agree with your last point; because people engage in more conversations with people outside their close circle, they will be more motivated to work for the company (and not just their peers); and these conversations will lead to more trust.

Posted on July 14, 2011 at 05:20 AM | Comment permalink

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