As always companies rely on knowledge to be competitive and innovative. This image has only gotten sharper and nothing indicated that this will change – ever. Having (Owning) knowledge has become a powertool in many ways. We have invented the Knowledge Worker years ago; employees whose main capital in the workplace is their knowledge. This has driven higher education and given the individual employee in a special position, in terms of negotiating individual deals, practicing loyalty to the employee etc.
But all this is changing and it is changing fast! My inspiration to writing this comment, is an article on CMS Wire, where BOX’s Whitney Bouck explains how she sees knowledge not being “power” anymore, compared to the ability to share information and knowledge. This is an exact way of pointing put that companies in the knowledge-centric business will have to change their way of thinking about knowledge.
The essence of this change is that we are getting used to a mode of operation where we can get to the knowledge when we need it, instead of having knowledge “in stock”. I call it “JIT Knowledge” (Just In Time). When identifying an issue or challenge, today we have experience and knowledge available through social platforms and the internet, enabling us to solve more complex tasks with less resources. A lot of people are doing this every day and looking at a younger generation entering the workplace, this becomes the default behaviour.
The future of knowledge work is driven by a culture of sharing information and experience and as a company you need to support these workers by nurturing this culture and enabling employees to be succesful by providing the right tools to share knowledge and consume shared knowledge.
And the availability of new tools is obviously the reason why this change is happening in the first place. We have talked about the impact of social on business for years and still quite a lot of businesses – and even organization I have worked with in higher education (where the entire business is built on the concept of sharing knowledge) – have not entirely embraced the opportunities in social platforms yet. Where – in recent years – the social revolution was driven by companies wishing to be more agile and innovative, in the future it will simply be necessary to survive. Market conditions are changing rapidly and no business can survive without continiously maintaining the access to new knowledge and information. But enabling enterprise social capabilities in just a part of the solution.
Recently very sophisticated search technologies have become broadly available to companies. I am thinking about technologies like “Delve” in Microsoft Office 365, where signals – based on individual users interactions, combined with enterprise search, proactively deliver a personalized corpus of information to future knowledge workers. Now I have technology that intelligently will help me maintain the required scope knowledge – and help me identify where I need to focus to stay in sync with my peers, my organization and my market. My contribution is sharing my knowledge and my thoughts on any specific topic. And from there on new social and search technology is taking over.
When working in the Knowledge Worker and Knowledge Management space, we need to realize that “collaborative knowledge” is becoming so much more valuable than individual subject matter experts. Not that SME’s are not welcome anymore – by all means. But the first thing we need to learn our SME’s is to share what they know, and management need to drive Sharing as the new power, where Knowledge used to be…