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Looking to the future: 2022 KM outlook

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KM priorities for 2022 and beyond

With organizations responding to virtual work and information chaos by recognizing knowledge as a strategic asset, here are the next logical steps:

Create or refresh the KM strategy.

♦ Assess the organization's critial knowledge.

♦ Prioritize what knowledge it most needs to get or keep. 

It’s not surprising, then, that APQC’s survey respondents selected KM strategy and identifying, mapping, or prioritizing critical knowledge as top priorities for the road ahead. Both priorities are up slightly compared to when we last surveyed about KM priorities in early 2020.

Transferring expert knowledge has steadily climbed APQC’s list of KM priorities over the past several years. The primary driver of this priority is generational changeover. Baby Boomers have been threatening to retire for more than a decade, but the pace of actual retirements picked up post-2020. Workforce churn is another key contributor. Top talent holds all the cards in this labor market, and organizations seek to preserve critical knowledge not just from retiring Boomers but also from Gen Xers and Millennials shopping for more lucrative positions.

Improving content management has also moved up the 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. Additionally, migration to cloud-based systems has prompted some organizations to clean up their content so they can start fresh with better practices. APQC advises organizations to seize this critical opportunity, as inflection points are hard to come by in content management.

A migration is, for most organizations, the best chance to secure the time and resources necessary to tackle this messy, complex problem.

Eye on evolving technologies

There’s a wide range of exciting, KM-relevant technologies on the market and under development. But when APQC asked KM practitioners about the most important technologies to adopt right now, 65% pointed to a classic: team collaboration and digital workplace apps. These apps are a bigger focus than AI-driven search (37%), AI-driven content recommendations (25%), or knowledge graphs and relational databases (24%).

The simple truth is that enterprise IT does not move as fast as buzzwords and blogs. Collaboration and workplace apps have been around for a while, and although they don’t have the whiz-bang buzz of AI, they’re key to how people interact and get things done in the modern world. Cloud-based ecosystems such as Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace have revolutionized how people experience knowledge flow in their daily work by combining productivity, collaboration, and knowledge discovery all in one place.

But just because many organizations have had these tools in place for a year or two does not mean KM’s job is done. There are still many opportunities for KM to do the following:

Better integrate KM processes and activities such as communities and knowledge repositories into collaboration and workplace apps

Set guidelines and ground rules for these tools so that employees don't drive each other crazy with too many threads to follow and notifications to manage

Serve as super users to leverage and educate others on the new capabilities that are continually added to these subscription-based platforms

Identify emerging knowledge needs and gaps by analyzing platform activity

When we shift the conversation further out on the horizon, however, the emphasis on AI becomes clear. Respondents list AI-driven recommendations as the number-one technology for KM to embrace in the next 3 years, with 44% putting it in the top three. Forty percent cite AI-driven search as a top priority within 3 years, and 27% cite AI to identify and surface expertise.

But despite AI’ s undeniable impact on KM, practitioners see other foundational factors as more essential to optimizing the KM user experience. Nearly three-quarters of survey respondents said it was most important to simplify KM interactions and embed them directly in the flow of daily work.

These two user experience goals go hand in hand: An experience that happens in the flow of work feels simpler, whereas simplifying the KM experience makes it easier to embed that experience into work processes. AI-enabled findability, along with all-in-one workplace collaboration platforms, can help KM with both goals—and they’ re a prerequisite to achieving more leading-edge user experience goals such as anticipatory and personalized knowledge delivery.

Priorities for KM Teams

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