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KM and the future of work at KMWorld 2023

The growth in popularity of AI and machine learning (ML) has greatly impacted almost every company in every industry. In the world of KM, these technologies hold a promising future—though not one without various conditions and requirements that must be met to yield positive results.

Lynda Braksiek, principal research lead, knowledge management, APQC, and Jeff Willinger, digital experience director, Withum, led KMWorld 2023’s session, “KM & the Future of Work,” to discuss the latest advancements in technology and how that will alter the path of KM and its practitioners.

While tech like AI and ML are touted as ways to make everything and anything better, this is far more misleading than it is truthful. In reality, to derive any sort of value from AI and ML, organizations and employees must develop new skills and competencies—such as data analysis and data literacy—for maximum efficacy.

Braksiek launched the discussion by comparing GenAI to buying a new car; it’s new and shiny, but still requires a lot of research before any kind of commitment is made. 

According a 2023 APQC roundtable, organizational drivers for implementing AI/GenAI or other advanced technologies include:

  • Generating new content
  • Enhancing current content
  • Moderating current content
  • Enhancing search capabilities
  • Creating efficiencies by developing profiles to locate experts more effectively

Braksiek explained that there are three areas for KM to be effective in the era of AI: understand the business need for AI, ensure effective content management, and focus on the impact to people.

There are a lot of priorities for a business, and AI is no different; it adds onto the plethora of other needs that a business is already asked to focus on. If you have a new car, don’t you want to know where to park it?

“Once you understand your business priorities, leverage the KM approaches you already have,” said Braksiek. “And build the KM approaches that you will need.”

Effective content management helps avoid a chaotic start to your AI journey, explained Braksiek. Determining what’s relevant and what needs to be curated will act as a robust, underlying foundation for the brand new technology to sit atop of.

She offered the following best practices for content management:

  • Develop a strategy to connect people to continent
  • Create content people want
  • Manage the end-to-end content lifecycle
  • Ensure content is findable when needed
  • Leverage collaboration throughout the lifecycle
  • Manage change and measure success

“Recognize your current content management capabilities,” said Braksiek. “Know what you have—the good and the bad.”

Finally, Braksiek highly emphasized focusing on the people, expressing that, “KM is a people-first business—and AI is both a scary and exciting thing to people right now. You have to manage both sides of the spectrum.”

She offered these three keys for successful change management:

  1. Drive implementation from the top with an executive champion
  2. Work to instill a knowledge sharing AND data-driven culture
  3. Educate employees on what AI means for them and upskill appropriately

Willinger echoed Braksiek’s points, explaining “the way we work today is going to be different from the way we work next year, in two years, and beyond.”

Regardless of the ongoing change, the current hybrid and remote workforce is fraught with various anxieties and is highly diversified, bringing in five different generations, coupled with an increasingly team-based, collaborative, global, and mobile workforce.

The new and changing workplace environment has many unengaged employees, according to Willinger. This is at odds with another truth: Highly engaged employees are critical to an organization’s business success.

How can this be rectified? By meeting employees where they work, giving them instant access to tools, knowledge, and expertise needed to their job anytime, anywhere, and on any device.

Ultimately, enterprises should:

  • Personalize the experience based on the role in the organization
  • Anticipate the information they need and bring that to their immediate attention
  • Simplify and accelerate search
  • Surface key business metrics seamlessly and contextually
  • Deliver intuitive navigation

“Organizations are 80% culture and 20% technology,” Willinger warned. “You have to start somewhere or else it will be a mass of chaos.”

KMWorld returned to the J.W. Marriott in Washington D.C. on November 6-9, with pre-conference workshops held on November 6.

KMWorld 2023 is a part of a unique program of five co-located conferences, which also includes Enterprise Search & Discovery, Enterprise AI World, Taxonomy Boot Camp, and Text Analytics Forum.

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