Friday, October 19, 2007

Adoption of Knowledge Management?

Lot said about social computing. Indeed, social computing tools, and the resultant social networks are changing the the way people work and interact. Definitely a qualitative shift from the web 1.0 that we have been living with for what seems like quite some time now. A lot has also been written about the fact that KM is all about people. Technology is only the enabler.

However, there is a conundrum which a lot of Knowledge Managers face. There have even been books written ... There is The Attention Economy by Thomas Davenport which I must get round to reading (I guess I will do that after my exams, and The Knowledge Creating Company ... ya, theres still folks who havent read that!). What this means is that people have more and more sources of information, and more and more social networks ... like i have written earlier ... And there is less and less time ... with managers demanding more and more from the same amount of time that people are putting in at the office, there is a serious concern of adoption.

A lot of companies out there are grappling with this issue. While the infrastructure can be built up ... the blogging software, and the wikis are in place, but people are not writing! Even over at IBM, a page about blogging tells us that IBM has close to 12000 blogs. Luis has written about this ... and, a very nice presentation about Social Media at IBM, but the important point i would look at is that this represents around 3% of the population at IBM. While the numbers are huge, what this implies is that there is a huge potential for adoption of tools. Now, this is by no means something peculiar to IBM (and I am sure the scene is even worse at other organizations), the fact is that this means that a lot of people, and hence, a lot of the knowledge floating out there is still not getting into the mainsteram of the knowledge flow patterns of the organization.

Try asking someone why they dont use social computing tools (especially when they feel strongly that these are quite nice), and the most probable reply is ... Wheres the time! Sure enough, time is a big constraint. Add to this that more and more organizations with a regular KM initiative, talk about it in terms more of the infrastructure, and enablers that they have put in place, rather than in terms of the number of people, or percentage, who are embracing, or even adopting them. The question that this raises is ... How does one encourage adoption? Its like this ... People wont adopt social media till they find value there, and by definition, social media wont generate value for people unless more and more people adopt them. What came first ... the Chicken or the Egg?

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