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AIIM and KM?

It's AIIM time. I know that because every PR rep on the planet is starting to get on my case for appointments.

Looking for a reason to put off setting up interviews, I ask myself this question: What does AIIM really have to do with KM?

After all, isn't that the association whose president, addressing the first KMExpo two years ago, could barely contain his skepticism while playing buzzword bingo with the audience?


And didn't the recently forged alliance between the Knowledge Management Consortium (KMC) and AIIM fizzle when KMC members decided that AIIM was too "IT-oriented" to accurately represent the best interests of the KM movement?

Well, yes.

So I open the AIIM pre-show guide and what greets me on page 11 in big bold type but "From Information Management to True Knowledge Management." I flip the page and there's a conference schedule showing a whole track dedicated to knowledge management.

My E-mail bleeps--a news release: "First-Ever Knowledge Management Standards to be Created by AIIM International."

To clear my head, I go to the water cooler. There's our Editor in Chief Andy Moore sharing knowledge that KMWorld is going to sponsor a pre-show Forum at AIIM. The subject: knowledge management and how to sell it in an organization.

I've got to go straight to the top. Get me John Mancini! Tell me what this Atlanta event is all about, John--give me a theme.

It's about pushing the envelope, he says. He puts it in terms of the document technology legacy of AIIM: "The users who already have these tools are looking to get more value out of them. In some sense, that's the whole thing of knowledge management."

His words, not mine. But he's right on. We all know KM isn't just information technology. Knowledge management is about organizations performing better by providing information in the right context to the people who make decisions. It's about sharing knowledge from one employee to another.

So what does AIIM have to do with KM? A lot. Make all the culture shifts you want, demonstrate all the best practices you've ever seen and you still probably won't become a learning organization without technology at the heart of your effort, some of which can be seen at AIIM. Others--such as call center apps, sales force automation, customer service and training tools--can be seen at other shows.

And what to make of AIIM's change of heart? Nothing but good, I can see. Why shouldn't a member service organization listen to its constituents and create change in itself? Isn't that at the center of all KM initiatives--listening to what your market and your people are telling you and reacting decisively and intelligently?

A challenge to my technology claim came only days later over a lunch with Greg Oxton of the Customer Support Consortium (CSC). He tells me that CSC members seem to be leveraging their knowledge without bringing in additional technology.

For instance, Oxton pointed out that from the service side, Microsoft has improved reuse of internal customer service solutions (as opposed to outsourced service) from 5% to 60%, merely by making a culture change and leveraging the technology they already have in place.

Aha! So even though they weren't thinking technology when they thought KM, the adage "KM isn't about technology, but just try doing it without it" applies. Only, in this case, Microsoft's customer service technology happened to be in place. They simply ... how did John Mancini put it? ... "want to get more value from it."

Sounds good to me.

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