Survive or thrive? How KM can be the difference at KMWorld 2019

At KMWorld 2019, Adriaan Jooste, CKO, Deloitte Advisory, discussed how organizations can make the business case for continuing to invest in KM after the intranet is built and the KM foundation is in place—when management is questioning if it can cut the level of KM investment, and whether it is now possible to turn on automation and decrease headcount.

Videos of KMWorld 2019 awards presentations,  keynotes, and sessions can be found here.

In a session, titled  "Continuing Investment In KM," Jooste covered potential approaches for making the case for continuing to invest in KM by visibly demonstrating the value the KM team brings to the organization, including metrics that show the value and ROI of KM, ways to get ever closer to the business—where sales and delivery of services is offered—so KM is enabling business growth, service efficiencies, and revenue generation, and ways to use cognitive and AI to improve delivery (not to cut costs).

KM management programs are all about the business opportunities or problems the organization wants to address, said Jooste. Success in knowledge management is largely about addressing specific business needs with a reasonable scope. The systems, services, and capabilities are usually built out incrementally. According to Jooste, in 80% of the KM project that are deemed to have failed, the problem was with the people and not the technology.

Organizations need to decide on the focus of their KM initiative, whether that is speed to market, improving customer intimacy and knowledge, increasing employee engagement and satisfaction, improving internal processes to meet regulatory compliance and other requirements. This will help to focus effort on what to do first and how to measure outcomes. However, it is important to remember, said Jooste, that KM does not need to be all things to all people and, if it tries to be, it will have difficulty getting top management support. It is more effective to select a few key areas of concentration for the KM initiative. 

Once implemented successfully, however, some may wonder why KM doesn't pass a tipping point and simply become the new normal. But success requires that behaviors change, as well as a commitment to sustain the change, the willingness to continue to work at improving outcomes, and technological assistance.

In particular, Jooste said, in the event of an economic or business segment slowdown, rather than turning away from KM, organizations should use a slowdown in business as an opportunity to collect and create knowledge content, refine processes and embed knowledge, and build intellectual capital and knowledge-empowered services. 

What a company should not do in an economic downturn is:

  • Fire the people who are boundary spanners and connectors
  • Assume you km team should take a cost/headcount cut because they are not customer-facing
  • Put all longer term projects on hold
  • Be shy about asking your KM team to revisit their activities because they usually know which ones are people's pet projects and "check-the-box" requirements

The question for organizations is not whether they can afford to sustain a world-class knowledge management operation, but whether they can afford not to have one, said Jooste.

Many speakers at KMWorld 2019 are making their presentations available at

KMWorld 2019 is a part of a unique program of five co-located conferences, which also includes Enterprise Search & Discovery, Office 365 Symposium, Taxonomy Boot Camp, and Text Analytics Forum. 


KMWorld Covers
for qualified subscribers
Subscribe Now Current Issue Past Issues