I recently had the opportunity to chat with a practitioner about the importance of knowledge management and had to smile when she declared that ‘knowledge management is back.’ The premise of the comment was that early attempts at knowledge management were unsuccessful as organizations seemed to think that the knowledge was going to ‘magically’ appear. Gartner speaks to the fact that organizations also often focused on collecting knowledge, rather than dispersing it.
It has taken the IT industry a while to understand that there needs to be a strategy for knowledge management that culminates in the right information being delivered to the right place or person at the right time. Doing that successfully requires a process, methods, policies, procedures, tools, and metrics.
Another consideration is the shifting of generations in the workforce. Think about it. How do young – or young at heart – people solve problems today? They Google or Tweet and draw upon the knowledge and expertise of others. And those ‘others’ are perfectly willing to share. The ‘social generation’ is not afraid to share their knowledge and expertise the way that generations have been in the past. Organizations just need to ensure they have the processes and technologies in place to capture that knowledge and publish it in the best and most usable form. To that point, a whopping 42 percent of organizations are planning to update or add knowledge management technology in the coming year according to HDI’s 2012 Support Center Practices and Salary Report. According to the same study, knowledge management is now one of the most widely adopted ITIL® processes, behind only incident and change management.
There’s often a perception that ITIL only focuses on knowledge management in Service Transition. This conversation really brought home to me the importance of emphasizing the fact that knowledge management spans the service lifecycle.