Know or die: risk and opportunity of Knowledge 2.0
“And the web stormed the enterprise and disrupted roles, tasks and jobs: it cast speed, openness, flexibility and efficiency throughout, sparing no business processes: manufacturing, logistic, accounting, customer relation management, lead generation…”
The digital mutation is also profoundly disrupting how knowledge is acquired, organized and shared. Knowledge is an intangible, yet strategic asset of any enterprise. With businesses becoming more virtual and dematerialized, its value is patently and rapidly growing.
How does the enterprise adapt its Knowledge management practice to the digital age? Did the web annihilate the older knowledge management paradigms? How can the enterprise benefit, and not succumb, to a web-driven, pervasive and real-time knowledge? We at Scoop.it have noticed amongst our business clients a growing concern regarding the evolution of Knowledge sharing; we’ve run a survey (500 respondents) to better comprehend the challenges, objectives and stakes. Let’s share some insights.
But first, what exactly is knowledge and why should large enterprises care?
Some languages offer two words to translate knowledge, and the difference is interesting: for example, the French distinguish between connaissance and savoir. Connaissance refers to objective data and information, acquired by means of learning and understanding. Savoir refers to subjective collections of connaissance, aggregated and contextualized through a specific experience.
In a sense, connaissance is raw content while savoir is curated content: carefully selected, subjectively enriched.
While no such two substantives exist in English, this subtleness is nevertheless captured by two adjectives: I’m cognizant of a fact but I’m savvy in my field.
How is it relevant to the enterprise? Connaissance (raw data) is of course necessary to the enterprise but it has become almost trivial, commoditized. What is strategic is savoir: contextualized, field-specific, actionable knowledge. Being cognisant is table stake; being savvy is the objective! Knowledge sharing strategies are required.
How did the web disrupt Knowledge Sharing?
From Benjamin Franklin (“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest”) to Bill Gates (“How you gather, manage and use information will determine whether you win or lose”), there is no shortage of wise people reminding us the value of knowledge. This is not web-specific. How we acquire, organize and share it: this is web-specific. The enterprise knowledge sharing strategies need to adapt to the new paradigms.
Notably, the web changed (hm… rather pulverized) the following barriers:
Knowledge is now real-time; by the time your enterprise will just think of producing a formal piece of knowledge, the web will have produced – and made obsolete – hundreds of related pieces. Organizing yearly training session is good: we all need synchronization points. But on-going education is way better.
Internal vs External barrier
There is more knowledge is the outer web than you will ever produce – even about you! Of course, the enterprise will always possess this secret sauce, these patented know-how that will remain unique and private. But the rest of the world also produces lots content relevant to you. Open up, listen, use, repurpose!
Everyone is an expert. Everyone has access to social media, blogs, wikis… and appropriate tools to filter and monitor. Knowledge dissemination is no longer one-to-many. Leverage your experts where they are (R&D, support, sales, HR) to capture knowledge. Share knowledge across the functional silos.
What do we do? From cognizant to savvy via social curation
The new knowledge sharing paradigm in the enterprise is real-time information, in an open world, with pervasive expertise.
The enterprise needs to adapt… or die.
It’s a matter of will, procedure and tools. Decision might be sometime hard to take, but implementation is easier than it seems. The key is to adapt the mentality and forget the time, space and functional barriers that collapsed. New organization, procedures and tools can easily be deployed, that will:
Enable employees to monitor relevant content (from inside and also from outside the company) so as to acquire real-time knowledge, on an on-going basis
Empower experts to curate (capture, enrich, share) the most relevant content; Expert curators are the enterprise social brain that distill raw data into enterprise-specific, relevant knowledge
Make knowledge easy to consume: easy to access, palatable, intuitively organized, visual, contextualized. Your enterprise scarcest resource is your employees time: make them crave for and love knowledge; not struggle to find and digest it
While the system must be as open and flexible as possible (passing through the internal-external and functional silos barriers), keep control of the distribution process: some knowledge is public; other has a restricted, controlled audience
Gamify. The knowledge sharing process must be easy, engaging and rewarding, so your employees will be involved. To quote Benjamin Franklin again: “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I may remember. Involve me and I learn”
The benefits of a Knowledge Sharing solution
Recognizing the ever more strategic value of knowledge sharing; adapting the enterprise to web-compatible paradigm and deploying a consistent solution that involves (most) employees and leverages expertise through the time, space and function barriers: this yields lots of tangible benefits:
It increases the performance of each individual, by means of personal education; it is the most effective way to develop the enterprise human capital
It increases the performance of each group within the enterprise, by means of collaboration; and also through better understanding of each other, by better synchronization of the various levels of knowledge throughout the enterprise
It increases the global business intelligence of the enterprise, by means of better monitoring and better filtering of real-time web content
It increases the amount of relevant content available to the enterprise content strategy. Indeed, qualified knowledge is quality content and can be redistributed externally to demonstrate thought leadership, feed a community and an audience. And every enterprise needs lot of it.
It helps detect, develop and reward internal thought leaders
It helps nurture brand advocates
And it does not cost much resource, since every one in the enterprise is already an expert who discovers, reads, analyzes, filters lots of content… it is just a matter of adding this clever, pertinent little effort to capture and share the best of it!
The survey we ran recently with Business and Enterprise clients of Scoop.it clearly confirmed these benefits, with overwhelming statistics: According to our respondents, sharing of third party content in the enterprise:
Educates employees for 96%
Makes organization more efficient for 87%
Helps convince teammates for 69%
Helps convince clients for 84%
Conclusion: Knowledge Sharing makes you stronger. Adapt. Don’t die!
The benefits of Knowledge Sharing in the enterprise are numerous; it contributes to the excellence and to the sheer power of the enterprise, in many functional processes, including Business Intelligence, Human Resources, R&D, Marketing and Sales.
The enterprise certainly needs to invest some efforts to adapt to the web-driven knowledge cycle, which made the old barriers (time, space, function) obsolete; but the opportunity to grow stronger and faster is proven and the returns are substantial and tangible. And, given the appropriate procedure, mind-set, and tool, the benefits are easy to harvest. By entering the enterprise, the web forced it to evolve… but for the better.
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