The KMWorld 2013 conference—Building collaborative enterprises
Collaboration was a pervasive theme at KMWorld 2013, illustrating many ways to bring knowledge sharing into organizations. The event, held in November in Washington, D.C., offered a rich array of options for attendees, including the Taxonomy Boot Camp, SharePoint Symposium, Enterprise Search Summit, as well as the main conference.
At the opening keynote presentation, "Building Collaborative Organizations," author Nicco Mele provided his take on the impact of a connected world. A pioneer in the use of social media in politics and fundraising, Mele spoke about how technology changes organizations.
"Through technology, individuals are gaining power, sometimes at the expense of organizations," he said. "The ability to provide leadership in an environment of distributed power, and to channel the energy of a diverse group of people into accountable systems of integrity, helps create a flexible yet stable society."
A session called "Empowering Knowledge Throughout the Globe," which focused on the U.S. State Department's knowledge leadership initiative, was among the collaborative projects described at the conference. The goal of the initiative was to enable State Department personnel to find and share knowledge anywhere, any time. Presenters Bruce Burton and Eric Brassil explained the development of carefully designed tools that encompass search (searchstate), reference (Diplopedia), a professional networking platform (Corridor), communities of practice (communities@state) and a personalized newsfeed (Current). Systematically developed over nearly a decade, those resources now work together so that an employee might, for example, read a news article, share it, comment on it, read a related report, and locate and contact the author.
Implementing new systems requires change, and a number of the sessions highlighted the difficulty of transforming a culture and offered strategies for overcoming those barriers. Michael Grigsby of the Kansas City Police Department presented four keys for success in facilitating organizational change, starting with acknowledging the necessity of change. "Policy is less important than culture," said Grigsby. "The culture embodies the assumptions and beliefs that are often not questioned, which makes change difficult." The established power brokers in an organization are most likely to resist change because they have the most to lose. Assessment, planning and commitment round out the remaining keys for success. With the right follow-through, change is both possible and beneficial.
For skeptics who doubt the potential of gamification to contribute to knowledge management, Rebecca Rodgers, senior consultant at Step Two Designs, offered some convincing arguments. More than 235 million people per day play games, and play is a fundamental part of social behavior. The rewards and, more importantly, the recognition from games in a work context can boost learning, sharing and organizational performance.
Sabre Holdings, which provides travel services, set up a scoring system for getting questions answered. Nearly 70 percent of the questions were answered in an hour, and 88 percent were answered within 24 hours. The company estimated that it saved $500,000 from using the system. "One of the main factors for success is the corporate culture," said Rodgers. "Not every company is a good fit, but for those that are, games can be very effective for employment engagement and performance."
Attendees came from many locations, including Canada, Australia, South Africa and Israel to participate in the sessions and explore the products and services represented at the Enterprise Solutions Showcase. They were enthusiastic, interactive and appreciative of the broad range of learning opportunities that the conference provided.
Perspectives on big data
Big data is overhyped right now, according to Kamran Khan, CEO of Search Technologies, but it will become a critical part of the architecture of search. In his keynote presentation, "A New Search Architecture for the Big Data Era," at KMWorld 2013, Kahn explained the method used in analysis of big data, which entails breaking down very large data sets into pieces that can be stored on commodity computers, analyzed and the results re-aggregated. The technology originated with Google, which created MapReduce to analyze log files on usage of websites.
In his presentation on "Big Data vs. Human Data," David Snowden, founder and chief scientific officer of Cognitive Edge, spoke about the importance of using technology to augment human intelligence rather than replacing it. In the past, attempts were made to use computers to replace people in key positions, especially those involving judgments, which was ineffective. "Big data is dependent on things happening so it can study the events," Snowden explained. "In contrast, human networks can be deliberately created that can be polled to explain why things happen under conditions that could not have been predicted."
We are data rich and information poor, according to Jeff Veis, VP marketing, Protect Solutions, Autonomy, an HP company (hp.com). His presentation on "Enterprise Search in the Age of Big Data" also discussed the challenges of search. "Transactional data is surrounded by unstructured data that is difficult to analyze," said Veis. Large financial institutions are archiving information with Autonomy, on the order of a trillion interactions per month. Those records are then analyzed for signs of fraud based on word patterns, because such patterns can reveal fraud even though no "red flag" words are used.
KM and big data was the first on the list of Top 5 Knowledge Management Predictions for 2013-2014 presented by Jay Liebowitz, professor and author of Big Data and Business Analytics. "Big data can provide big knowledge and insights," said Liebowitz, "but the integration and synthesis of big data with analytics can be a challenge." Developing a big data framework and taxonomy are important for the proper application of analytics. In addition, organizations also need to put the right talent in place. The number of jobs for big data specialists is expanding more rapidly than the near-term supply. Finally, the right workflows and incentives need to be created, in order to enable access to the large volumes of third-party data that support big data analytics.