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KM Australia Congress 2013 – An interview with Simon Cheng from Ernst & Young

Simon Cheng is the knowledge leader for Ernst & Young’s Transaction Advisory Services in the Asia-Pacific region. He’ll be giving his session, Why should your CEO care about knowledge management?, on the second day of the KM Australia congress. The programme brings together lots of interesting speakers and case studies from a range of industries and sectors. In this interview, Simon talks about knowledge management in a global accountancy firm.
 
1. You’ve been at Ernst &Young for many years and, in fact, started out as a Tax Manager there. How did you find yourself in a knowledge leadership role? Were you identified as having an affinity for KM or did you forge a path?
At the time, it certainly felt as if I was forging my own path as, arguably, I fell into a KM career by accident.  During my time in tax, I did not envisage myself leaving.

However, in 2005, our …

KM Australia 2013

Coming next month is the KM Australia congress. Held at Luna Park’s Crystal Palace function rooms on July 23-25, the congress will be featuring some great international speakers and interesting workshops. In fact, if you’re interested in learning more about Knowledge Centred Support, Simone Moore and I will be conducting a workshops in the afternoon session on the 25th. If you’re a knowledge manager, KCS is a methodology you can apply to any support situation to speed up resolution, bolster self-service, trim costs, and keep knowledge flowing between customers and operational staff.

It promises to be another great few days of learning and networking with other passionate KMers. This year’s Chair is Cory Banks, and I asked him what he expects the hot topics for 2013 to be.

“There are two sides to this. There is what I believe people want to know and what people need to know. I think people will …

Decision management, but not as you know it

If you’ve heard of decision management before, you’ll know it as a set of processes for improving and streamlining action items. Decision management systems treat decisions as reusable assets and using predictive analytics, business rules, continuous improvement, etc., can provide automation at decision-making points along the way. You can imagine this happening quite frequently in the production line environment. But what about those decisions that can’t be automated—decisions that happen by committee, in a human environment.

Group decisions can be difficult to arrive at, and not just because of timezone considerations where stakeholders are not in the same location. But decision-making groups are also subject to the human flaws that affect other groups. There’s a terrific explanation of the pitfalls of group discussion on Wikipedia. Once we’ve arrived at a collective decision and we implement it, we might have tremendous success or colossal failure. Depending on the outcome, we may …

Living and working in startup town…for a week

One might think the Knowledge Bird had flown the coop. Not so much. But, I did fly Stateside to spend last week in the office with my Zendesk homies.

I figured, why not take advantage of Mr Knowledge Bird’s trip to Startup Town (aka San Francisco) and go meet-and-greet the people I’d been working with remotely these past few months?

San Francisco has been billed as a city not at all representative of the rest of the U.S. And Zendesk is not at all like the normal corporate environment. Though, as a well-known startup going through an über-growth phase, what else DO you expect? Truth be told, I was reminded a little of the early parts of my career working in tech support at One.Tel—a telco startup, of sorts—back when it was just a massively risky thing to do and not at all cool. The only things different in the modern …

In defence of forums

When I put “forums are” into Google, the first options that come up are: “dead”, “stupid”, “full of idiots”, and “a waste of time”. Granted, many of those are sensationalist titles for posts refuting exactly those things. Though the idiots are indeed plenty, online forums themselves are far from dead. Modelled on bulletin boards and UseNet of the 70s and 80s, forums are simply threaded discussions around a niche topic, with an invested core membership of subject matter experts. Usually. Naturally, a number of elements are needed to ensure ongoing usefulness, but as a framework for building knowledge and community, they’re pretty solid.

I’ve been an avid participant of different forums over the years. (Catching up on new posts is a great way to fill in time between those adrenaline-induced moments of “stuff is broken!” in a tech support job.) But when Facebook, Twitter, and other activity stream-style options appeared, …

The SKMS: elusive or unattainable?

The service knowledge management system (SKMS) is how ITIL describes all the knowledge and information that relates to IT’s provision of services. In this webinar, recorded last week, Rob England, Attivio CTO Sid Probstein, and I talk about knowledge management with Matt Hooper, and we explore some of the barriers we’ve come across in IT.

Despite a feeling that we might be all doomed to repeat ourselves, on several levels, I remain hopeful. Knowledge management sessions at the conferences and seminars that I’ve attended in the past 18 months have all attracted large numbers. The interest is clearly there, but so is the cultural chasm.

And what of ITIL’s SKMS? When it calls for a configuration management database to be a part of that ecosystem, is it destined for the bottom of an ever-growing to-do list? Listen to our conversation, have one with your colleagues, and then come back and tell …

itSMF Knowledge Café

Last week, the NSW branch of the itSMF held a knowledge café for the first special interest group session of 2013. Paul Bodie and I facilitated the session together with a group of 18-or-so service management professionals. We explored both the Gurteen approach to knowledge cafés and the original version that was developed in the 1990s.

For our Gurteen session we formed three tables—if we’d had a couple more people we would have split into four tables of five—and we began by discussing a single topic: The most successful service improvement programs include…

We had two table changes, each after 10-15 minutes of conversation, where 2-3 people would shift and continue the topic discussion with others. The topic discussion concluded with a group conversation where participants shared insights that surfaced during their smaller group discussions. Executive sponsorship of improvement programs was a key theme but we also identified that our …

How I use Yammer

Around this time last year, I was at the Yammer on Tour event, sucking down the Kool Aid and wishing I had a Yammer network to participate in. Now, I’m a member of two Yammer networks—one a collective of volunteers and the other, a thriving corporate network. I’m only new to the former, but it’s been interesting observing the dynamics in the latter.

As a remote contractor, it’s easy to feel on the outer. For one, I’m a contractor, but I think I must also be one of the few people who works solo. The headquarters are in the US, there are a few regional offices around the world, and a few other people working independently around the place. While the corporate Yammer sees a lot of action, what I’ve noticed is the regional and remote people are the ones who really drive the “work out loud” philosophy that’s required …

Book Review: The Phoenix Project

Late last year I was lucky enough to get an early preview of The Phoenix Project: A Novel About IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win. Written by what seems to be the holy trinity of the DevOps movement—Gene Kim, Kevin Behr and George Spafford—the book has only recently been released and is already #1 in Amazon’s Information Management category. I can see why.

The business novel genre is not somewhere I’d normally find myself. Comedic autobiographies and Clancyesque action-fiction is where you’ll generally find me. But when the manuscript landed in my inbox, I started reading straight away. The Phoenix Project tells the story of an IT manager, Bill Palmer, being assigned the hapless task of fixing a chaotic and messy IT environment within 90 days.

When I met with Gene last October, we talked about our past experiences, we talked about our hopes and dreams, and we talked a …

7 Ways Self-service is like a ShamWow

Like late-night TV, the mind can go from the sublime to the ridiculous when it’s dark and quiet. And so here I am with 7 reasons why self-service forums are like a ShamWow.

1. ShamWow’s in your face around the clock

Just like those ads, self-service forums can run around the clock. And if you have a thriving user community, those customers posting questions to the forums can get anecdotal advice and crowd-sourced help while you’re asleep or watching TV.

2. ShamWow is portable

That’s right the ShamWow can go anywhere. Keep one in the house, the car, the boat, the RV. Take a look at Mary Meeker’s 2012 Year End Update. Here’s just one slide that proves escalating mobile use. There’s plenty more in the full report.

Mobile-friendly self-service portals give customers access to support wherever they might be at the time. Your entire knowledge base could be in their pocket.
3. ShamWow just …