The impact of social media on knowledge management

Last night’s NSW KM Forum was the last for the year, so they finished things off with a knowledge café on the topic of social media. Is this the end of KM as we know it or its second coming? The knowledge café involved discussion around three questions on the topic, with one question at each table, and a small group discussing each question. After 15 minutes we moved on to the next table. One person would stay at each table to act as scribe while keeping the rest of us on track, and would recount the summary so far to each new group.

The three questions were:

  1. How can social media help achieve KM objectives?
  2. What is “KM as we know it”?
  3. Does KM have to change to survive? If so, why and how?

I can’t cover everything that was discussed, mainly because I didn’t take any notes, but I can tell you what I think. Traditionally, KM has been closely linked with librarianship—the keepers of structured document repositories. Document management will always exist in some form but knowledge managers are evolving to become curators and connectors. Social media is forcing creators to provide knowledge in consumable amounts, which makes it easier for those people to share their knowledge in the first place. As a result, we end up seeing the huge amount of information and anecdata stream by that we’re so familiar with on Twitter and Facebook. Knowledge managers with an active enterprise social environment in their toolset are having to let go and trust that the good stuff bubbles to the surface.

Rather than killing off KM, I think social media has brought it to life. It’s less about dusty tomes on bookshelves not being updated and more about connecting the dots in real time. It’s nimble and adaptable.

KM will always be about enabling better decisions, not just in the day-to-day but for idea generation, too. Approaching enterprise social tools with bravado and posting that idea, no matter how big or small, is empowering at all levels of an organisation. We no longer have to produce a document to get the ear of the CxO. Last night’s knowledge café was facilitated by Marie O’Brien and she highlighted the third era of knowledge management, as explained by Nancy Dixon. The third era is all about  Idea Management. It’s about enabling vertical knowledge exchange for organisational learning. On a purely practical level, enabling the whole organisation to be potential innovators is certainly easier with some kind of enterprise social tool.

What do you think? Is this the end of KM as we know it or its second coming?

  • Kelly Houser

    This was very interesting! Thank you!

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