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Celebrate the Success Stories of Knowledge Management - 2022 KMWorld Awards

Alan Pelz-Sharpe looks at where KM is going in an increasingly distributed world at KMWorld Connect 2021

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Where KM is going in an increasingly disconnected and distributed world at KMWorld Connect 2021

At KMWorld Connect 2021, Alan Pelz-Sharpe, principal industry analyst, Deep Analysis, looked at how new technologies such as machine learning and AI are bringing new life to old KM concepts. Driven in part by the ever-increasing volume and variety of information sources, advances in technology, and the accelerated by the enforced remote working environment of the pandemic, KM is more critical than ever.

Deep Analysis is an open source research firm that is focused on emerging technologies and challenges in information management and automation.

Pre-pandemic trends versus now

Pelz-Sharpe shared key KM directions today and highlighted how they have diverged from pre-pandemic trends.

Looking at the impact of the pandemic, Pelz-Sharpe noted it is clear from his company’s research that the majority of employees (91.6%) are quite happy with most aspects of working from home including the ability to collaborate virtually with colleagues through various platforms. However, one area that has been sub-par is their ability to find documents and information, which presents an opportunity for knowledge management vendors in this segment to shine.

Increasingly, he said, companies are also prioritizing employee satisfaction and their needs, which represents a shift from the past, in the belief that if the employee is happy, the customers will be too, and that will make owners and shareholders happy as well.

Pre-pandemic, “faster, cheaper better” was the mantra, but now companies are rethinking their priorities on a range of fronts, said Pelz-Sharpe.

AI had also been seen as the panacea for everything, but, now, he noted, that view is also shifting to more of a focus on projects that help achieve what is needed to get the job done.

AI and machine learning are particularly useful in three areas, said Pelz-Sharpe. One bucket is the ability to classify knowledge assets at a speed and volume that mostly exceeds anything humanly possible, another is continuous learning and improvement, and the third is insight delivery, which is evolving from pulling information when users search for it to pushing it automatically to them in the context of their work activities.

While synchronous collaboration platforms such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, webex by Cisco, and BlueJeans, have  been widely accepted, Pelz-Sharpe said asynchronous collaboration for people who are communicating and working together at different times and different locations, supported by products such as Loom, Miro, Yac, Discourse, and Tettra were “where the real heavy lifting comes in.”

Key AI components, said Pelz-Sharpe, are OCR (optical character recognition) to see information, NLP (natural language processing) to read, NLU (natural language understanding) to understand, and NLG (natural language generation) for conversing.

Despite the promise of AI and automation, now more than ever before, there is great opportunity for knowledge managers, said Pelz-Sharpe. While AI and its core component technologies are still seen as important trends, Pelz-Sharpe noted that AI systems are only capable of recognizing patterns, learning, and making decisions by being fed data. They are as only as smart and helpful as the information that is provided, and the need will never go away for experienced knowledge managers who can ensure that the information that is being leveraged is correct and curated.

Pelz-Sharpe closed with his recommendation for anyone thinking about deploying new technologies: "Know and agree on why and what you hope to achieve before doing anything."

4 criteria when making a product or vendor selection, according to Pelz-Sharpe, are that it:

  1. Solves Problems: Can this product provide a solution to difficult, costly, or complex issues?
  2. Applies Ingenuity: Is this an effective application of a novel solution to meet existing requirements, unarticulated needs, or new needs?
  3. Adds Value: Is this product able to enhance and add value for one or more groups (employees, customers, partners, etc.)?
  4. Shows Flexibility: Can this product change according to need

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—including Pelz-Sharpe—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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