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Enabling content management, digital workplaces, and information architecture at KMWorld Connect 2021

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To address the requirements of increasingly remote, digital workplaces and rapidly evolving business needs and processes, content management (CM) systems are becoming increasingly sophisticated.

At KMWorld Connect 2021, Amber Simpson, senior manager, learning & development, Walmart, and Todd Fahlberg, senior KM consultant, Enterprise Knowledge, shared details of their work together over the past 2 years to enable a seamless learning experience for Walmart.

Walmart U.S. Learning designs, develops and implements programs for Walmart U.S. store associates, supply chain, Walmart U.S. Ethics & Compliance, and more.

In terms of the scope, there are more than 1.3 million associates across the U.S. alone; 21,000 pieces of learning content; 32,0000 knowledge checks, questions, and assessments; and a SharePoint site containing 1 million documents averaging 9,000 site visits per week.

Goals and challenges

Challenge #1: Needed efficiencies to create, maintain, and sunset content

  • There was a lack of accessibility and awareness of existing content and assessments
  • Unnecessary time and money spent recreating, manually and managing, duplicating, search for content
  • Over-reliance on the power of Excel

Challenge #2: Associate Experience & Learning Data as a Service

  • Needed the ability to deliver learning material to learners before they know they need it
  • Inability to provide recommended content and personalized experience
  • Lack of one centralized location for indexing learning content

Challenge #3: Taxonomies, Ontologies, and Metadata

  • Lack of “seeded taxonomy” to enable machine learning. A taxonomy is the Rosetta stone that tells ML how to read and understand content.
  • Inability to leverage search tools and technologies that automate tagging.

Despite Walmart’s size, Simpson and Fahlberg said they believe the challenges they faced are universal and applicable to other companies, said Simpson.

One thing that they learned, said Simpson, is that they had to stop referring to KM as a separate entity and instead needed to embed KM into the ways of working so it was not a separate silo.

Simpson and Fahlberg shared the timeline of what they have achieved over the past 2 years since they started working together as well as their future vision.

One of the biggest lessons Simpson said she learned is you have to have a trusted partner who will give and receive feedback, understand and support the company culture, and is willing to teach, train, and mentor. It is also important to keep things “Sesame Street simple.”

Simpson and Fahlberg have developed the Learning Content Database (LCD) that provides “one source of truth,” a learning metadata hub/repository, relationship (mapping) between learning content, and enables search, content management, and content recommendations. The LCD leverages technology from PoolParty and Solr.

The LCD is the digital library and system of reference for learning content and associated metadata found in external repositories (source system). The content record’s metadata originates from learning content source systems and also is applied manually by L&D associates or automatically by technology.

Key takeaways

According to Simpson and Fahlberg, lessons learned from their work are:

  • Keep it simple. It not should be complicated.
  • Meet people where they are: what’s in it for them?
  • Training, training, training, training.
  • Don’t try to boil the ocean.
  • Clean data is a must, but waiting for perfection will delay your start.
  • Find a place where you can make an impact—identify a problem and dive in.
  • Identify a trusted partner who can teach, mentor, and provide guidance.
  • Make sure you have stakeholder business and tech alignment.
  • Know your organization’s culture and understand your customer.
  • Show yourself grace (and give yourself time): Simpson said she includes this last piece of advice because 2 years ago at the KMWorld conference, she was in a session and had no idea what the speaker was talking about, but now she is teaching others how to implement a content management system.

KMWorld Connect 2021 is going on this week, November 15-18, with workshops on Friday, November 19.

On-demand replays of sessions will be available for a limited time to registered attendees and many presenters are also making their slide decks available through the conference portal.

For more information about KMWorld Connect 2021, go to www.kmworld.com/conference/2021.

Access to session archives will be available on or about November 29, 2021, so be sure to check back for on-demand replays.


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