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KMWorld 2014: Enterprise knowledge & customer value

Knowledge sharing, innovation and trends in KM were the themes for tracks in the final day of the conference. In a session on the future of knowledge work, Jeff Stemke of Stemke Consulting Group discussed the implications of the “millennial crew change,” noting that talent development is a top priority for CEOs, who have some concerns about the differences in mindsets between generations. “Critical thinking and complex problem solving are not being adequately developed by today’s education system,” he said, “and sending an Instagram is no substitute for this level of thinking. Many employers are finding that the applicants’ skills are not matching the job qualifications.”

“Nexperts” are needed!

Another issue for the future is the structure of the work environment. “Because there will be more contractors and fewer employees in the future,” Stemke said, “developing virtual communities will be an important part of human capital management.”

The urgent need to develop the “nexperts” in an organization points toward a dual strategy of training novices and enhancing the knowledge of mid-career workers. Darcy Lemmons, senior consultant at APQC, presented a knowledge loss risk matrix that showed the likelihood of knowledge loss versus the consequences. The matrix provides a way of structuring information that enables an organization to focus finite resources on the most critical knowledge to retain.

Cutting-edge technologies such as cognitive computing were also part of the program. “Cognitive systems make complex problems computable,” said Sue Feldman, CEO of Synthexis. “These systems run on big data, and they integrate all types of information, particularly text, for a broader view of a problem. They can also act as assistants, sifting through mountains of information and offering recommendations.”

Cognitive systems excel at uncovering relationships across sources and finding unexpected patterns. In healthcare, cognitive systems have already helped doctors diagnose disease and uncovered causes of congestive heart failure hospital readmissions. In cybersecurity, cognitive systems can detect data breaches without having to rely on explicit rules. The ability to understand the current state of the business from every source available will make cognitive computing a critical part of KM in the future.

Taxonomy, SharePoint and more

Taxonomy Boot Camp provided an intensive program with sessions geared toward a range of different levels of expertise. From the fundamentals of taxonomy to the details of tagging, attendees benefitted from the expertise of experienced practitioners. In a closing panel, the speakers looked 10 years back and 10 years forward in the field of taxonomy, offering their insights on the profession.

“Ten years ago, people outside the profession did not know what a taxonomy strategy was or what it could do for them,” said Tom Reamy of the KAPS Group. “Now, people at the C-level recognize its importance.” On the technical front, Reamy cited text analytics as the most important change. “By adding metadata of all kinds and categorizing unstructured documents, text analytics enables us to close the gap between taxonomies and documents to tag more efficiently,” he said.

The well-attended SharePoint Symposium offered a series of sessions on strategies, architecture and metrics, as well as sessions regarding specific pointers on such topics as using video on SharePoint. Jill Hannemann, director of advisory services for Portal Solutions, and Laurence Hart, content management strategist for Alfresco Software, held a lively dialog about collaboration in the cloud, Office 365 versus the alternatives, comparing the advantages of an integrated set of applications with those that have more APIs and customization options.

A new feature of KMWorld 2014 that may well be continued in the future was a company showcase designed to elicit input from conference attendees. Royal Dutch Shell set up multiple workstations in a dedicated space and demonstrated the knowledge management system it has developed, gaining valuable insights from attendees who voiced their reactions and contributed their observations.

Power of the public

In the closing keynote, Eve Mayer, CEO of Social Media Delivered, treated the audience to a lively and interactive session on how to use social media effectively. She pointed out the new era of transparency, in which companies are forced to admit their mistakes as soon as a customer makes them public, or risk the consequences. But the power of the public can also be harnessed for the good of both the business and the customer.

Mayer advised companies to think through the goal of using social media, not just to join in the rush. In addition, a company’s social presence needs to be sustained over time, and must provide information that people find useful. Social media content should be entertaining in some way—through humor, controversy or by eliciting emotion. Social media reaches a broad range of individuals, particularly younger people who are constantly using mobile devices, and will continue providing opportunities for marketing, collaboration and knowledge sharing.

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