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What’s ahead at KMWorld 2021

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Do you remember eye contact? “Reading” the room? Picking up on non-verbal cues? Having spontaneous face-to-face conversations that don’t require email invitations? It’s all coming back this fall when KMWorld, the largest gathering of knowledge management thought leaders, practitioners, authors, and storytellers, returns to Washington, DC for the first time since 2019.

Jane DysartKMWorld is an international gathering place that brings together the most respected knowledge management experts in the world under one roof. The conference—which also includes the co-located events Taxonomy Boot Camp, Enterprise Search & Discovery, and Text Analytics Forum—is designed for CIOs and CKOs, IT managers, knowledge managers, information managers and professionals, executive management, intranet managers, information architects, content managers, customer experience professionals, scientists and engineers, educators and researchers, and anyone else who wants to make their organization more effective, collaborative, and innovative through knowledge sharing.  

Jane Dysart, KMWorld conference chair, and founding partner and curator of curiosity, Dysart & Jones Associates, recently reflected on the importance of in-person learning and interaction at KMWorld 2021 and offered a look at what’s ahead for attendees. The conference will be held November 15–18, 2021 at the JW Marriott Washington, D.C.

It has been a full 2 years since the last KMWorld conference. What are you looking forward to most?

Definitely the exciting buzz of people connecting, learning, interacting, being energized, and having fun! Even though our 2020 virtual event went exceedingly well and brought together people from all over the world in a different way, we still missed the in-person serendipity of connection.

Why is it so important for people to get together at an in-person event now?

I think everyone wants to break out of their 2-year cocoon of working from home, relying on Zoom and other video meeting tools, worrying about family and friends, and finding ways to stay healthy. We’re all ready to break out and participate in the world much as we have in the past even if we have to be aware of new and different protocols and rules. Conferences have always allowed us to come alive as we meet new colleagues, connect with long-time community friends, and learn the latest innovations and ideas in the KM world! There is no replacement for face-to-face in-person communication and all the sparks that go with it!

What is the theme of the conference this year and how is it reflected in the sessions?

Our theme this year is “Impacting the Future: New Models & Tech for Knowledge Sharing.” The past year has accelerated the digital transformation of most organizations, provided more remote working tools, and illustrated just how important knowledge sharing is to those who do not work side by side. New innovative and collaborative technologies have been tested and improved to support new models and processes while people have found fresh ways to socialize and build relationships?all important developments for strong knowledge sharing in the organization. So how will our organizations reset following the pandemic? What are the priorities? Our 2021 event will stimulate the conversation as we share experiences and lessons learned over the last few years, set stretch goals for our knowledge sharing strategies in the future, find ways to deal with uncertainty and disruption, learn how to deal with vast amounts of data using intelligent assistants and machine learning, and create more agile and smart organizations. By improving knowledge flows and sharing among enterprise communities to speed decision making, innovation, and success, we can approach the future boldly and positively.

How is this content presented in the conference program?

We have 20 tracks of themed talks over the 4-day KMWorld event, including a focus on strategies and practices, digital workspaces, tools and techniques, taxonomies and text analytics, search and discovery, and the insights and lessons learned from practitioners from many different industries and communities spanning pharma, finance, manufacturing, government, R&D labs, law and professional services firms, communications, military, retail, foundations and non-profits, health, education, technology, and more. Have a look at the detailed program for more details as well as our fantastic range of talented and experience speakers! 

As it does each year, KMWorld will present additional co-located events—Taxonomy Boot Camp, Enterprise Search & Discovery, and Text Analytics Forum as well as pre-conference workshops. What do these additional components bring to the conference experience? 

Yes, many folks refer to our long-time annual conference as the global granddaddy KM event! In fact, we are celebrating our 25th anniversary this year. With our co-located events, our conference encompasses all the aspects involved in knowledge sharing in organizations and communities from the information architecture to tools and processes; to search, discovery and analysis; to developing learning cultures; to finding strategic and actionable knowledge needed to develop innovative and competitive programs. We have built a KMWorld 2021 program that attracts people from many different roles in an organization.  One year, one company sent seven people from different departments to take advantage of our varied program. That initiated many interesting discussions and insights for creating new and innovative knowledge sharing programs. We love it when KM managers bring along their CIOs or techies to the event. They really get a lot out of the cross-fertilization of ideas to take back to their organization.

What’s in store for attendees this year? 

As always, we expect the audience to be stimulated by our keynote speakers, including the World Economic Forum’s strategic intelligence practice lead, and the author of Digital Disruption: The Future of Work, Skills, Leadership, Education, & Careers in a Digital Worldcheck out the website for more! There are also many tracks filled with practical tools, tips, and case studies of a variety of organizations in their quest to build strong knowledge sharing and innovative communities. There are also community connecting and networking forums, including our popular Knowledge Café and Mentoring Morning, fun receptions in our Showcase that highlight the new and exciting products from our sponsors, as well as morning breakfasts. A highlight of our conference is our lineup of polished and talented speakers, many of whom are also authors, and we hope to have book signings once again in our KMWorld Bookstore as we have in the past.

What’s new?

In addition, this year we have created a more robust communities of interest forum at the JW Marriott bar following the conference sessions on Wednesday with topics and facilitators to enhance our community chats and sharing of ideas and practices! And new this year is a whole day around KM platforms using Office 365—the track looks at the various ways the tools are being used and provides examples and ideas as well as insights for enhancing knowledge sharing and collaboration within any organization.

How can attendees prepare to get the most out of their time at the conference?

We have redesigned our KMWorld conference website so we hope people can use the at-a-glance to get a feel for the full 4 days of our event including morning breakfasts, workshops on Monday, inspiring keynotes, new discoveries from our conference sponsors in the showcase, networking and connecting events, and the terrific range of speakers and topics. There are descriptions of the themes and tracks of the programs as well as individual session details, profiles for speakers and sponsors, and additional detailed information. Really, more than being prepared, we hope attendees will be excited to reconnect with their colleagues and meet new folks in the KM community, learn about the latest trends and technology, and enjoy being together once again!

Why do attendees come back to KMWorld year after year, and what will make this year’s event so critical to attend?

The KM community is all about knowledge sharing and that’s what draws longtime practitioners to return and meet those new to the area; there are always a lot of newbies at our events as well as those who have experience and KM stories to share. This is a global and inclusive community of people who are passionate about improving knowledge flows in their organizations, learning from others, keeping up with the latest trends and technologies, and connecting with professionals who have similar interests. Because it has been 2 years since we’ve done this in-person, I think this will be an important year to get together, catch up, learn, be inspired, create new practices and models, and basically reset for the future.

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