KM 2.0: Knowledge Retrieval Beyond the Firewall
Last week I did an SSPA webcast with Chad Wolf, President and co-founder of eVergance, about the impacts of Web 2.0 on knowledge management (KM). Of course, we always need a new name for a new concept, and KM 2.0 is the moniker in popular use already. If you’d like to view an OnDemand version of the webcast, click here!
I wasn’t too familiar with KM 2.0, so in preparation for the webcast I reached out to friends and colleagues in the industry, and a few members, asking what KM 2.0 meant to them. The general consensus was, “Oh god, please don’t give me KM 2.0, I don’t have 1.0 figured out yet!” (There is also a certain jaded eye roll that seems to occur whenever I ask about anything ending in “two point oh” after the exhausting hype on Web 2.0. But I digress.)
So what is KM 2.0 and why do you need to care? I will definitely be writing more about this later in the year (click here to see my list of research topics for 2007), but while this was fresh in my mind I thought I would throw out some ideas and ask for your feedback.
Here is the bottom line: currently companies focus solely on knowledgebase and other content within their own firewalls to solve customer technical issues. But with customer, industry and partner Web 2.0 communities, as well as individual websites and blogs by industry insiders, companies must recognize that the knowledgebase of the future is a deconstructed, globally located, mess. And don’t think your company is exempt because your knowledgebase is in good shape.
Agents are resourceful, and they will soon all (if they aren’t already) be participating in online forums, adding bits of their wisdom (and your knowledge capital) to these communities. Ignoring these new content sources would be wrong: there is simply too much good information out there to leverage.
So how can companies leverage Web 2.0 to solve customer problems, without getting mired down in the mess? I think there are 3 pieces of technology that will become critical in a KM 2.0 world:
- Intelligent searching. I’m already a big fan of dynamic, intelligent search engines, but today they are used exclusively inside the firewall, searching the knowledgebase and a few additional libraries. When useful content libraries are formed in forums and blogs and other community tools across the Internet, searching must be able to index and retrieve this content as well.
- Web collaboration. Though Web collaboration software is available today, it is typically used for Web chat, with few companies taking advantage of other features such as page push and screen sharing. Add to the mix online meeting facilities and the ability to have virtual teams, including experts from external communities and technology partners, and you begin to see how complex problem resolution will occur in the future.
- Expertise management. Tracking who is the expert on a specific product feature or line of code is challenging enough today, when only internal resources must be tracked. But as experts emerge in industry and customer communities, being able to tap their expertise will make sense. And, being able to instantly identify an expert at a technology partner will also speed resolution for multi-vendor support issues. With presence awareness now possible via IP, you can choose from a global list of internal and external experts on any topic, and select from those currently online and available.
The good news is this is definitely the early days of KM 2.0, so don’t worry if this all seems way outside your list of things to worry about today. But, it is important to have a plan, and my bottom line recommendation here is that any time you add an additional piece of technology into your service and support environment, make sure it is from a company that ‘gets’ Web 2.0 and is investing in Web 2.0/KM 2.0 research and development. That way, the product will grow with you, and you won’t have to throw it out and pick another provider in 3 years.
- eService vendors with intelligent searching: InQuira, KNOVA/M2M
- Community (forums, blogs, Wikis, etc.) specialists: Jive, Lithium
- Customer service vendors with proprietary forum/community offerings: ATG, KNOVA/M2M, Talisma
- Customer service vendors with packaged integrations to community specialists: KANA, RightNow
What does KM 2.0 mean to you? Are your agents and/or customers already participating in forums or other communities outside of your sphere of influence? Please add comments or shoot me an email with your thoughts!