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Choosing the right KM tools

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By now I think we understand SharePoint for what it really is: a jack of many trades and master of precious few. Experienced KM leaders know not to focus too much on any one platform, and many of you-having lived through difficult years with Lotus Notes—are working hard to put SharePoint in its proper context. (See kmworld.com/Articles/News/News-Analysis/SharePoint-2013-Is-it-a-product-or-a-platform-84513.aspx.)

A fresh look at social

For most enterprises, initial investments in social computing have centered on creating  social "spaces"—online locales where employees could go to engage in more informal discussions and networking. The actual results have often proved uneven, yet promising enough to sustain further investment and experimentation within most enterprises.

Along the way, we've learned a big lesson: Social features are critical to effective enterprise collaboration. I would argue vice versa as well.

In fact, I'd make the case that a more social and collaborative (a.k.a., humane) digital workplace experience has become increasingly essential for all enterprise computing. Your colleagues really want a social layer across their digital experience. The marketplace isn't quite there yet, and many enterprises are struggling here, but KM leaders with a broad field of vision can help lead the way.

Changing roles for KM leaders

Note that many of those new toolsets come with their own repositories and, left alone, will lead to more info glut, reducing their long-term value. Many vendors argue that search technologies will solve that problem. Your inherent skepticism about search can really pay off for your colleagues here. If you don't focus on things like filtering services for activity streams and appropriate levels of information management, who else will?

You will also add value by demonstrating that collaboration and knowledge sharing are not places people go, but things they do. KM leaders are uniquely positioned to help the enterprise put new tools in the context of daily work. With the rise of mobile, that kind of contextual relevancy has become more urgent than ever. But it's going to require an understanding of an ever-wider array of technology categories.

And here lies a third important role: understanding the suitability of the right tool for the right job. Advocate for a scenario-based approach to all technology selections. (See realstorygroup.com/Blog/2438-Five-Mistakes-That-Can-Kill-a-Technology-Project-Before-It-Starts.) The right tool is not sufficient for KM success, but it's an increasingly important precondition. 

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