What I Heard at TSW: KM Culture, Social Knowledge, Gamification, KaaS
Last week was our Technology Services World Conference in Las Vegas. It was our biggest conference ever, with over 1,300 attendees. I spent most of Tuesday doing more than a dozen 1:1 meetings with members, answering technology questions, helping them create a short list of possible vendors for a planned technology purchase, or giving them a map of exhibiting partners to visit in the EXPO depending on the problem they were trying to solve. Since my Power Hour session on Monday was about the results of my August knowledge management survey, many of my member meetings were related to KM: what wasn’t working, what they would do differently next time, new technologies to invest in, etc. Based on questions asked during the KM session, and conversations with members and partners afterwards, here are some popular conversation threads I wanted to share with a larger audience.
Culture and KM
In my Power Hour presentation, I opened and closed with a focus on corporate culture and KM, and shared some results from my survey on how respondents rated their corporate culture, from a high of “Leaders set the example and reward knowledge sharing” to a low of “Share any knowledge and others will take credit”. We have very smart members, and Jodi McBride, Director, Knowledge & Content Management, Pitney Bowes Global Client Services, asked if there was any data correlation in the survey results between culture and KM success. Well, I hadn’t even thought about that. This morning I spent a bit of time slicing and dicing, and found a very interesting data story:
As you can see in these charts, I sorted all the KM survey responses into three groups by KM culture scores: poorest KM culture (bottom third), average KM culture (middle third), and strongest KM culture (top third). Then I looked at the average scores for each group for the question “How do you rate your existing KM system?” and it appears that culture plays a big role in how well a company’s KM program is going. For both customer-facing and employee-facing knowledgebases, the stronger the culture, the higher the KBs are rated. This played out in many member conversations, and at this point, I see culture as a primary indicator of KM project success.
I’ve had a few eye rolls in the past when discussing crowd sourcing knowledge, but that tide seems to have turned. There was a lot of interest in how to incorporate customers into knowledge creation and sharing, with more companies saying they were using wikis or ‘tribal knowledgebases’ to build and curate a knowledgebase by and for customers (Jive Software, who exhibited at TSW, got a lot of booth traffic around this topic). The most telling story came from Scott Bideau, Regional Sales Manager USA West, Coveo, who also attended my Power Hour session. He said that when companies push back on letting customers create knowledge, he asks them: “How many of you truly know more about your customer than they know about you?” After a bit of soul searching, most companies admit that customers DO know more about them than they know about the customer. So why, if the customer does know so much about you (your products, your employees, your website tools, even your culture), why wouldn’t you want to tap into that expertise? Face it, customers who interact with your products in order to do their jobs have a different and likely deeper understanding of your technology than you ever will. Not taking advantage of that would be very sad indeed.
I also received multiple questions about gamification, mostly companies looking for some good examples of how to gamify KM to encourage participation in submitting new articles and maintaining older content. I have to admit I have not always been the biggest fan of this topic, and even once wrote that, regarding gamification, “if the emperor is not naked, he is at least scantily clad.” My issue is that many examples I’ve been given of gamification dashboards and contests have been around for 20 years, and are just being re-labeled. One audience member, Chris Hall, Chief Marketing Officer, Transversal, chided me for my ‘grumpy old man’ attitude on the topic, and said there are some very exciting developments in this area. Send me your best examples, and I will blog about them! The bottom line here is that if gamification can be leveraged to encourage employees to participate in what even I admit can be a tedious process, then I’m all for it. But some good examples would be nice. 😉
Knowledge as a Service
This topic was discussed during my Power Hour, and also in several 1:1 meetings afterwards. I wrote about Knowledge as a Service, or KaaS, earlier this year as a hot KM trend, and I think the topic is getting some real traction. After sharing my survey data on “Rip and Replace,” showing that nearly half of companies were on their 3rd, 4th, 5th or more employee-facing knowledge platform, clearly a lot of service organizations have yet to find KM success, with the technology being a scapegoat for what is almost always a process problem. If companies can outsource calls, maintenance renewals, product testing, etc., to a strategic partner who can do it better, why not work with experts in knowledge management who can make your KM program a success? One of our KaaS partners, Klever, exhibited in the EXPO, so hopefully they had some good traffic on this topic.
In addition to these themes, I had multiple conversations about KM staffing, how to kickstart a KM program, and who/how/how often to provide KM training for employees. I also explained the difference between federated search and unified search, and the difference between full text search and natural language search, so many times I finally have a fairly short answer to the question. (Short for me, anyway.)
If you would like more information on the results of my KM survey, I will be doing a free webinar this Friday at 8am PT going over all the content I covered in my Power Hour. Here’s a link to register for the event: http://www.tsia.com/documents/Knowledge_Management_Industry_Pulse_Session/
TSIA members can access a copy of the research report detailing the survey findings here: http://www.tsia.com/documents/The_State_of_Knowledge_Management_2014/
If you aren’t a TSIA member, we are making a copy of the report available to all members of the Klever community for a limited time next month, so register now and you will be eligible to download the report: http://www.getklever.com/Public/Register.aspx
Thanks everyone who attended my session, scheduled 1:1 meetings, or sent emails about my KM survey results. And as always, thanks for reading.