Disruptions and KM

I noted the contrast between Millennials’ preference for communicating with text. The Gen Z demographic prefers to communicate with images. The demand for videos and digital images presents some significant challenges for organizations with KM systems. Most KM systems accommodate binary content, but the systems are more comfortable with structured and unstructured text and numeric information. A cohort shunning text for images may be ill served by enterprise KM systems that expect users to read. Gen Z wants to look and watch and then make a decision.

The third point in this table of characteristics that struck me as having profound implications for KM is the Gen Z preference for “collective conscious,” not the Millennials’ interest in “team orientation.” I understand teamwork. I am uncertain about “collective conscious” behavior. What I believe to be true is that current KM systems are able to provide tools to permit teams to share information. Workflow components notify users of new content related to a project, and file locking and versioning make it possible for one team member to edit a document without losing colleagues’ input. I do not know of a single KM system that creates a collective consciousness.

Big data’s impact

Solis calls attention to a number of broad shifts in online behavior. He underscores the importance of generating revenue. He offers examples drawn from music streaming to net neutrality. He emphasizes the impact of big data. The Internet of Things promises to generate a flood of data about everyday actions, the behavior of employees and customers, and the various digital systems themselves.

Solis asserts, “Beacons provide businesses with endless opportunities to collect massive amounts of untapped data, such as the number of beacon hits and customer dwell time at a particular location within a specified time and date range, busiest hours throughout the day or week, number of people who walk by a location each day, etc. Retailers can then make improvements to products, staff allocation in various departments and services, and so on.”

In terms of KM, none of the systems with which I am familiar is able to cope with petabyte flows of real-time information. Even cloud-based systems like Salesforce.com narrow the data flows by focusing on specific types of user activities and data types.

How will KM cope?

If we assume that Solis is correct, one can ask, “What will KM systems have to provide to cope with these disruptions?” I do not have a comprehensive answer, but I can offer several observations:

  • Today’s systems such as those listed in the KMWorld rundown of 100 Companies That Matter (see page 14)are going to require new features and functions.
  • Organizations will have to find ways to integrate systems that have previously existed as “silo-type” functions—for example, internal security and firewalls.
  • Managers will have to master a range of tactics that allow different demographics of workers to contribute their efforts for the benefit of the organization.
  • Entrepreneurs will have numerous opportunities to reinvent or redefine knowledge management to take advantage of Solis’ disruptions.

In 2015, knowledge management will want to start its innovation engine.

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