Trends in Knowledge Management

Traditionally, KM was more often than not a top-down driven approach. For example, document taxonomies and knowledge sharing procedures were defined; identified experts shared their knowledge in defined communities.

Today, we can identify six strong trends that lead into new concepts of knowledge sharing and collaboration:

People are inherently curious for more based on their interest: a) Social media allows us to discover new content which is shared by our peers, friends, etc. b) Social computing empowers people to access information that is related to their interests and scope of work. These services support employees gain faster a deeper and broader expertise complementing classic (expensive) training. This open doors to informal and contextual learning; a more costs effective training.
Two very recent examples of semantic explorations are Facebook Page Suggestion; Google Reader Play.

The semantic web – aka Web 3.0 – is built on the idea that not only humans but also machines can understand information. Enterprises can benefit from semantic web services by defining company-wide meta-data on all forms of knowledge and improve coherence and consistency in classifying content which will lead to more accurate search results.
Examples I would like to mention are Aardvark a “social search engine” and SwiftRiver aiming to “distill wisdom from crowds”.

Enterprise 2.0
This trend is about empowering employees; providing them an open platform to express opinions and share expertise. Corporate counterpart to Web 2.0. Enterprise 2.0 builds on management to pass some control on to the network; they empower the knowledge workers to work and act autonomous. Based on loosening the control, Enterprise 2.0 will allow information to flow more directly from originator to recipient, and therefore enables faster knowledge sharing and innovation.
A very recent summary on Enterprise 2.0 suggest the the new trends are processes integration, reduction of information overflow, and integrating tools into a few applications.

Many have realised that facts-oriented information needs to be placed in a context. The success of social networking confirms the trend to more people-centric knowledge sharing. People are engaged in new conversations which are enriching the daily work and increase the effectiveness of information sharing.
A McKinsey Quarterly article on knowledge workers’ productivity suggest to overcome contextual barriers by rotating employees across teams and divisions; this allows specialists in different areas to learn about one another’s work.

In today’s information age we are confronted with an information overload. Visualisations allow a more efficient knowledge transfer. Graphic representation of data is already very common in financial applications, referring to e.g. balance scorecards. Further, connection and networks within information and between people could be visualized, which allow faster knowledge monitoring & absorption.
Here some more examples for visualisation of data and information: The economics of Star Wars, visual complexity, The Visual Wiki, and ManyEyes.

This is a general trend in business and society. Mobility creates new opportunities for knowledge sharing initiatives to exploit areas which has been out of reach before. Providing mobile solutions will allow decision making faster and more accurate.
The mobile web influences the trends above:

This has been my view on the new trends in knowledge management, which have been emerged in the last few years. In my work context, we are now trying to review our product and services portfolio to leverage on these trends.

What are new trends in your eyes?

3 Comments so far

Md Santo

Trends KM “in my eyes” driven by the basic postulated paradigm :  “WE ARE KM-REGULATED BY NATURE, whereas BY NATURE WE ARE KM MODEL” Therefore from my point of view, concept of “Human System Biology-based Knowledge Management (HSBKM)” model framework quite reasonable ( source ). To comprehending HSBKM model framework, follow

In brief, derived from epistemological as well as ontological view we have six dimensions aspects of KM as the whole system.  They are : First dimension, derived from the analogy with “human organ system” as the first somatic element, KM stated as an access mechanism that can be used across any management tool type. Second dimension, derived from the analogy with “ brain” as the second somatic element where KM conditioned as having learning loci for individual, organizational even machine (techno) learning. Third dimension, derived from the analogy with “genomic DNA” (“the hub of Free Will”) as the third somatic element to generate the determination that organization should have business plan covering Vision-Mission-Goals-Objectives-Strategic and Action Planning. Fourth to sixth dimension generated from human psychic elements. Psychic element consist of three level of human knowing tools or human consciousness to their environment. They are generated from peripheral nerve system or human senses, central nerve system or mind brain and consciousness DNA respectively. In reality as human knowledge related to consciousness or knowing tools, they consecutively are Knowledge with Lower Consciousness (KLC), Knowledge with Medium Consciousness (KMC) and Knowledge with Higher Consciousness (KHC). Applied to Human System Biology-based KM (HSBKM) model framework, KLC as “corporate senses” be similar with KM Tools. KMC as “corporate mind brain” with KM Process Framework and KHC as “corporate consciousness DNA” with KM Standards (Culture and Value)

The trending strong trends phenomenon such as exploring, semantics, enterprise, people, visualization, mobility etc epistemologically as well as ontologically could be generated and clarified from HSBKM model framework domains.

BTW, let me add two important trends regarding the shifting paradigm of K and KM especially related with HSBKM :
First, “Knowledge is alive” having consciousness, evolved as emergence behavior inside human being as complex system behaving as subject.
Second, DI separated with KW or DI – KW model in which DI separated from KW, not DIKW as a continuum considering that Knowledge is human knowing tools achieved as inborn as well as acquired (visit our Knowledge-Base on DI-KW model ).

Posted on November 08, 2010 at 01:19 PM | Comment permalink

Patrick lambe

Great piece, Tim.

I think your trends are very accurate on the collaboration, sharing, people side of the KM house.

However, I think these trends themselves are placing a great deal of stress on the more formal knowledge organisation processes and technologies such as search, taxonomy management, metadata management and master data management (integrating the management of both structured and unstructured information). I am not sure this is a mature trend yet, because the stresses are only now emerging as enterprises adopt the trends you describe… but pretty soon, the gaps between formal knowledge systems and informal knowledge systems, and the need to connect them better, will generate a new trend in this area.

Posted on November 08, 2010 at 01:57 PM | Comment permalink

Tim Wieringa

Thank you very much for you comments.

@Md Santo, I particularly like your quote “Knowledge is Alive”, very true. The Human System Biology-based KM concept looks interesting, but I hope you understand that in my context (construction industry), we need to be more practical and simple; very hands-on.

@Patrick, I share your concern that these new trends of “loosing control” undermine the traditional Knowledge Management concepts. I think we need to find a balance between the two; both ideas of KM can learn from each other. We should think about how formal knowledge systems are supporting self-sustainable knowledge “organisms”.

Posted on November 12, 2010 at 02:33 PM | Comment permalink

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