There seems to be a lot of discussion around Knowledge Management (KM) and where it fits within the ever popular Enterprise 2.0 (E2.0) world. Seems like the discussion is coming straight out of a Dickins novel: “Knowledge Management in 2009… It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

We took a jab at KM and its IT relationship earlier this week where we noted that E2.0 may be an opportunity to break the efforts of relying too much on technology to create the information you need from your knowledge management program. There have been a couple of good (although a little “pie-in-the-sky”) white papers from ILTA and KM World on how E2.0 will fundamentally change the way KM operates. Over at rickmans’s posterous, Rick provocatively blogged the question of “Should Knowledge Managers look for a new job?” And, one that isn’t specifically KM, but discusses the value of knowledge workers states that we are the new “blue collar workers.”
So, there seems to be a line drawn in the sand that E2.0 is either the savior of KM or the Harbinger of Death for KM. And, if you look closely, it seems that push of E2.0 into the KM process seems to be coming from external (read: Vendors) rather than from internal (read: KM managers). Not that this is unusual, most change comes from external pressures rather than internal insight, but the stark differences of opinions should be viewed with this in mind.
I did like the reaction that Carl Frappaolo had to the whole KM & E2.0 discussion. In the post “NOW knowledge management is possible – Whaddya Kidding me?” Carl hits upon one of the underlying issues regarding the KM/E2.0 discussion. Do you think this is an “evolution” or a “revolution” in KM? Frappaolo takes on Andy Moore’s view that E2.0 is a “revolution” in KM because the E2.0 is a “bottom-up” approach to KM. Frappaolo counters that E2.0 is an “evolution” in the KM process and that KM “is a business practice and ecosystem, that evolves over time.”
It is fun to follow the arguments back and forth. My opinion (and I know that you all value my opinion) is that the KM process is “evolutionary” and can adapt to new ideas such as E2.0 brings to the table. However, those pushing how E2.0 is the savior of KM are being a little to Pollyannish about how it will “revolutionize” the KM industry by putting the power in the hands of those creating the knowledge.
On the other hand, those running KM departments are at a tipping point (or at least approaching the Fulcrum) of how E2.0 will be integrated into the current KM process. From what I’ve seen on the KM Management side, there isn’t a lot of rallying around the E2.0 flag. Vendors need to take note of this fact.
The reality of the situation is that E2.0 is coming, and its coming fast. KM managers better be preparing for its arrival and not wait until it has become a de facto process in the firm.
  • Greg –

    Before I left the world of knowledge management for compliance, I saw many similarities between the two. Tom Davenport even called Enterprise 2.0 as Knowledge Management re-branded.

    As you might expect, there are two camps in E2.0: the IT vendors and everyone else. The vendors focus on the tools and everyone else focuses on the behavior changes, culture and transparency aspects.

    Personally, I think of Enterprise 2.0 as more analogous to the personal knowledge management. These are tools focused on the individual or small groups. That is where the direct benefit lies. A by-product is the ability of others to find the information.

    Early KM was focused on the enterprise as whole, looking for people to add content to centralized system that offered little direct benefit to them.

    Enterprise 2.0 is savior to Knowledge Management.

  • Greg–

    Doug neglected to mention that (before he left) he was certainly one of the KM Managers pushing E20, in the law firm space (as I am trying to continue to do–not for E20s sake, but because they are better tools).

    I see the sharing and collaboration aspects of E20 as entirely consistent with the goals if not the methods of traditional KM. I admit that many traditional KM managers may appear somewhat suspicious of E20 approaches. Such people I believe have not actually tried these tools and have not seen how opening up authorship, communication paths, and context addition through E20 tools, combined with approaches to that encourage and reward collaboration, can help the business in many ways.


  • Just for fun, don't miss @gyehuda's post today.

  • You can't kill something that never was : )

    [Doug: Davenport was almost laughed off of the stage at E2.0 conferences.]