If there’s one thing that everyone should agree on regarding knowledge management (KM), it’s that KM is not a standalone function. To be truly valuable, KM systems must be integrated into and optimized for key strategic and operational business processes.
Beyond that, unanimous agreement about knowledge management may be hard to come by. However, according to recent research by APQC, there is a strong consensus on several points: 60% of respondents to an APQC survey said “they see KM as either thriving or gaining ground in the current moment”; and “two-thirds said their organizations plan to increase KM investments over the next 12–18 months.”
In an article in KMWorld earlier this year, APQC’s Lauren Trees highlighted other areas of general agreement about the biggest opportunities for knowledge management, which are worth reiterating:
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- KM is essential as organizations embrace more remote/hybrid work. People accustomed to working from home expect to have that option moving forward. Working remotely requires both good tools for content management and collaboration and more structured knowledge flow processes to ensure knowledge gets to people when, where, and how they need it.
- More leaders are recognizing and treating knowledge as a strategic asset. Cascading crises have drawn attention to the need for speed when it comes to knowledge exchange. To act quickly, an organization must be able to “know” quickly and at scale, and that means treating knowledge assets as strategic assets.
- Employees are frustrated with chaotic, disorganized information repositories. Workers are feeling the burn of poor content management. The gradual buildup of digital information, combined with the sudden shock of working from home without access to people as sources of knowledge, spiked rank-and-file demand for KM.
- The pandemic highlighted to leaders the risk of knowledge gaps and silos. As leaders are “getting” the upside of KM, they’re also understanding the downside of ignoring it. They’ve heard employees’ frustrations, but they’ve also seen how enterprise knowledge can disappear in the blink of an eye, and how a lack of access to critical information can endanger both day-to-day productivity and future readiness.
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We think it is worth calling out these APQC findings because they are consistent with what Northern Light hears from our customers and prospects all the time. While market and competitive intelligence (Northern Light’s specialty) is a very particular application of KM, the broad issues APQC enumerates are entirely relevant.
Of note, APQC also wrote, “Improving content management has also moved up the [KM] priority list in recent years. Employees are irritated by their inability to find needed data and information, and, of course, this problem is even more frustrating when working remotely.”
The content management dilemma is a reality Northern Light and our clients have long recognized, and a core capability we have emphasized in our market and competitive intelligence portals for the very reasons noted above. Effective knowledge management begins with having the right content readily findable through the system; and that’s true whether the content was produced internally within the organization or licensed from external third-party sources.
The criticality of effective knowledge management in 2022, and the vitality of the market Northern Light serves, are not in dispute. The onus is on KM user organizations and vendors alike to ensure that systems are delivering full value and putting all the knowledge available to best use in the various strategic and operational applications where KM is deployed.