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The first step in any recovery program is to accept that you are powerless, and that your situation has become unmanageable. At the enterprise level, the explosion of apps, clouds, content, data, and the methods of online communication makes the situation untenable. No organization today has control, and the good thing is that people are gradually waking up to this reality. The standards, procedures, policies, and the applications, systems, and platforms that worked 20 years ago don’t work anymore; they are powerless to fix the problem.

A new generation

But a new generation is coming in—one that sees order in the chaos, spots previously invisible patterns, and not only embraces technology but grew up with it. Rather than being overwhelmed by the situation, members of this generation embrace chaos and make it work in new ways. We need those people in our industry, for they have the answers that we don’t.

At the same time that this generation is coming to the workforce so too are new technologies such as on-tap cloud computing, Internet of Things, machine learning, and blockchain. Low-code and no-code solutions abound, and AI and 5G are nearing prime time. All the building blocks that either didn’t exist before or were out of reach are now readily available, anytime, anywhere, to anyone. The opportunity is also there to reframe and reinvent the future of the workplace. I feel we are on the cusp of a revolution, but as any old revolutionary will tell you, it won't happen overnight. For any movement to succeed, it has to not only take on and overcome but also convert the opposition, and that takes time. Although the uprising will not be televised, it’s already starting to happen. I see the first shoots of new growth popping up all over the place.

Advanced technologies

Take the explosive growth of robotic process automation (RPA) technology over the past few years. It is automating the tedious, repetitive tasks that burden office workers—manual tasks that no Gen X or Z worker will ever embrace and can see no reason not to automate. Take the deluge of data and content from employees, customers, citizens, and partners that assail organizations daily. A new generation of employees will use machine learning and AI to decipher, spot useful patterns within, and again manage all this data automatically. Take the blockchain technology that brings with it the simplebut profound concept of immutable shared trust which in turn is a catalyst for radical transformation. The revolution is already underway.

But advanced technologies themselves do not bring about innovation and radical change; they are the building blocks for creative teams and individuals to construct new tools for change. In my work as an analyst and advisor, I am fortunate to have an insider's view of what is going on. Still, I have to be careful not to get caught up in the virtual echo chamber of brainiac technologists. I have to keep my feet on the ground and see the reality of these ideas playing out in the real world. It's in the real world of government departments and enterprise back offices that I draw the most hope. It’s there that the urgency to reinvent and address the reality of the “legacy” KM situation is blooming most proudly.

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