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KMWorld 2023’s second day keynotes strike the balance between human connection and AI

Today’s world of KM—particularly as it relates to digital transformation, enterprise assets, and generative AI (GenAI)—is, undoubtedly, a rollercoaster. Consisting of seemingly endless “ups” and “downs,” modern KM takes everyone on a ride, though through implementing various strategies and best practices, it can be a rather enjoyable one.

At KMWorld’s keynote session, experts in their fields covered a myriad of KM topics pertinent to the dynamic nature of modern business. Each speaker emphasized an overarching purpose regarding knowledge at the proprietary level—that it should spark joy and productivity, bringing users extraordinary experiences and new, exciting opportunities.

Sandra Montanino, founder and principal, Navig8 PD and formerly director, professional development, Goodmans LLP, and Kim Glover, director, internal communications, global, TechnipFMC, opened the keynote with a focus on enterprise-wide collaboration and engagement.

“We felt that the future of work was being narrowly discussed in terms of where we were going to work, and not how we were going to work,” said Montanino.

Certainly aggravated—though not necessarily created—by the Covid pandemic, the process of connection at work has shifted. The meaning, the speakers pointed out, has not: “Conversations are at the heart of learning, sharing, and knowledge management,” said Montanino.

“Connection is critically important,” added Glover. “If you want me to share my knowledge with you, there needs to be trust.”

Technology can certainly optimize the way we connect, though it cannot be entirely relied upon. A break-up text may be technically “easier,” though it is not an effective, meaningful way to conversate, according to Montanino.

The speakers emphasized being cautiously optimistic about new technology—such as GenAI—in its application. Like their previous point, it can be used to enhance the conversation experience, but reconnecting with what makes us human will be a crucial piece of its usage.

“The best technology is one that enables things for humans,” said Glover.

“There is a whole other element when having a conversation with a human,” said Montanino. “There’s a certain warmth and feeling that ChatGPT cannot give you.”

Glover echoed Montanino’s points, adding that the co-created meaning when connecting with another human is transformative—it creates a whole. However, there is some risk in the potential to not be seen, heard, and understood. Trust is another component of conversation that contributes to its novelty; without trust—much like AI—conversation’s capacity for connection is decreased.

To cultivate an environment of trust necessitates action, which will inevitably influence others to act and engage. 

“In order to ensure that you’re not seen as a workforce commodity, you must start now to invest in your human relationships,” said Montanino. “And to do that is through conversation.”

Maintaining an active presence and making human connections requires an element of courage. You must model the behavior you wish to see reflected in your workforce and “invest trust in others,” said Glover.

Create a space where conversations are encouraged, empowered, and trustworthy. In turn, you will see better business outcomes, similar to the process of investing meaningfully in a client to spur on enterprise success.

Looking at knowledge as a source of growth

Eyal Cahana, knowledge capital practice lead, Deloitte, moved the conversation toward seeing KM as more than a storage repository. Instead, he envisions KM as an enterprise’s most crucial asset, capable of growth and driving better business outcomes.

Despite this, buy-in and budget are some of the most difficult things to secure for KM initiatives.

To nurture a successful KM initiative in your enterprise, it must follow this knowledge framework:

  1. Strategy: How can KM enable the business strategy?
  2. Governance: How will knowledge be managed and promoted?
  3. Processes: Where is knowledge created and consumed in business processes and where can it be pushed to provide value?
  4. Content: How can content be structured, and knowledge architected for maximum value?
  5. Tech: What is the best UX and UI to achieve the business and functional requirements?
  6. Impact: How can KM be seamlessly integrated into ways of working for sustainable outcomes?

By adhering KM initiatives to the aforementioned tenets, you can change the way knowledge is understood across the enterprise.

“While our leaders can’t envision the ROI, we must think of knowledge as currency,” said Cahana. “It is the social growth of your organization.”

The emphasis of knowledge as currency can prompt improved decision making, better business outcomes, and greater social capital—this must be communicated to executive leadership, according to Cahana.

As the previous speakers pointed out, the fear of AI has wildly impacted KM. Cahana explained that these fears don’t reflect reality; AI won’t take your job!

“Human connection will always be necessary. Innovation happens when we connect,” he said.

AI’s utility for KM is entirely related to the two components’ synergy. Creating teams dedicated to this specific outcome can simplify KM’s success and dispel any AI fears.

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