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Readers define KM's strategic values

Top-down mandate, cultural change propel its success

Business executives who believe ROI is the primary measurement of IT initiatives should start developing some new and more relevant metrics for ROI that include ways to calculate the value of such notions as sustainable competitive advantage, innovation, improved decision-making and customer care and retention.

Those are the areas that readers of KMWorld see as the "most important benefits" that knowledge management can deliver to their organizations.

At press time of the one-year anniversary issue of KMWorld, the early results are in from the first, full online survey of readers on their knowledge management perspectives. The survey was taken across a random selection of active subscribers totaling approximately 5% (5,000) of the total audited circulation. The results reported here are on a 13% early return rate.

As to the "important benefits of KM to your organization," this is how respondents viewed them:

  • decision-making and action-taking	70.6%
  • competitive advantage	69.0%
  • innovation	69.0%
  • productivity	68.1%
  • customer care and retention	58.9%
  • quality	55.7%
  • bottom-line, ROI	48.6%

    The majority of readers, 77.3%, think that KM requires an enterprisewide, IT and communications infrastructure-based approach.

    A slim majority of 52.7% said that KM solutions are individual applications aimed at solving specific problems. But overwhelmingly, 94.2% think KM can be deployed both at an enterprise level and at a departmental or "point solutions" level.

    Most KMWorld readers, 62.8%, work in organizations that are currently involved in a KM or KM-related initiative, with another 22.3% expecting their companies to be so involved within the next 12 months.

    Paralleling that, 58.9% of readers are themselves involved with those KM projects, while 23.6% expect they will be within the next 12 months.

    Most of those current or planned KM projects (60.3%) are global or enterprisewide in scope, with 34.2% being at a departmental or unit level and 5.5% being at workgroup implementations.

    KMWorld's respondents are clearly directly involved with those initiatives: 33.2% are involved in the direction or management of such projects, with 46.4% serving on a planning or project implementation team. Another 20.4% provide technical support.

    And those projects are nearly evenly split as to whether they are "pilot" (49.3%) or full "operational deployment" projects (50.7%). Over half of the respondents (60%) said that there has been a top management mandate or clear expression of strong interest for KM initiatives.

    Success of KM initiatives, in the minds of KMWorld readers, depends on a number of things, but first and foremost--at 86.5%--they rate a "high degree of top-down interest," mandate or buy-in at the senior executive level of the organization.

    Second in importance is "cultural and organizational change" and development (77.5%). Picking the right team ranks next at 74.5%.

    Most readers (70.9%) think that the success of KM initiatives depends on "easy, intuitive and as effortless as possible (processes and tools for) knowledge sharing and collaboration."

    Among the other important attributes to the success of KM projects are:

    • picking the right project leader	67.7%
    • better use of existing IT	61.7%
    • identifying the right pilot project	61.5%
    • specific KM technologies	54.6%

    By overwhelming margins, readers think that IS/IT and network communications management job functions outweigh business-side managers in terms of their importance in planning strategic business initiatives such as KM. The technology managers average a 67.8% ranking while business-side disciplines average only 39.3%.

    Senior IS/IT and MIS management are seen as most critical to success at 87.2%. CIOs and CTOs rank second at 80.5%.

    The only real "beef" on the business side goes to departmental and line-of-business managers at 71.1%. But CFOs are seen by readers as the least relevant of all to the success of KM initiatives at only 17.9%.

    Top corporate management is seen as critical to planning success by 52.1%. The lesson, here, is make sure your project has senior-most executive support or mandate (remember, 86.5% of readers say success depends, first and foremost, on top-down mandate), but don't expect the CEO to carry any water buckets up the hill for you.

    While only 15% of respondents say their organization now has a senior manager with either the title or job function of a chief knowledge officer, 62.7% can envision their organization having a permanent title or job function (like a CIO, CFO, etc.) in the future.

    Of KMWorld readers, 54.8% can envision themselves fulfilling this function as part of a career path.

    The CKO will report to the CEO in the opinion of 41.7% of readers, while 37.2% think that function will fall under the CIO.

    How do readers feel about the level of importance that their organization now places on KM?

    • highly important	14.5%
    • important	31.2%
    • undecided	32.6%
    • unimportant	16.3%
    • highly unimportant	5.4%

    With relatively few products and/or vendor strategies now specifically targeted toward KM, readers were asked which of the following tools or applications areas they consider to be part of or meant by a knowledge management system.

    Here are the responses for all applications areas that at least 50% related to KM:

    • document management	82.8%
    • workflow	75.2%
    • intelligent content and context searching, browsing, crawling and navigating	72.0%
    • content management	68.6%
    • decision support	67.7%
    • data mining	67.7%
    • document imaging	66.5%
    • data warehousing, data marts	65.1%
    • messaging and collaboration	64.9%
    • business and competitive intelligence	60.1%
    • intellectual property and asset management	56.9%
    • compound document management	55.5%
    • forms processing	54.6%
    • business process design	54.6%
    • learning/training support	53.4%
    • optical and intelligent character recognition	52.8%
    • customer relationship management	51.6%
    • work management	50.7%
    • project management	50.0%

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