Big Data in Knowledge Management

For Rae Anderson, enterprise data and knowledge management begin with an understanding of what an organization needs to do with that content now and in the future, and ends with a hard look at how well we’ve succeeded in accomplishing our goals. And what we need to focus on next! —Editor

Author: Rae Anderson

I believe that knowledge management as a discipline developed because technology enabled the deluge of data we began experiencing about 20 years ago. The ways that we used to organize and share our information were no longer adequate to the task and we needed something new. I’ve spent the last five or six years focusing on data, more specifically on helping organizations treat their data as a strategic asset that requires the same stewardship afforded any other valuable resource within the organization. Given my knowledge management proclivities, through this work with data I’ve come to think that everything we do requires knowledge management, both individually, and organizationally, whether it’s part of managing ourselves, our work, our organizations, and even our families. So, if everything requires knowledge management, does nothing? And has this increasing data deluge changed how we manage our knowledge?

I recently started supporting sponsors with a desire to implement knowledge management methods to help them be more effective and efficient in their ability to share and use their information. Since it’d been at least five years since I worked in this area, I wanted to refresh my knowledge of techniques, tools, and focus areas. With the greater focus on data—including Big Data—and the advent and rise of a number of social media outlets, I wondered what impact these approaches had on the fundamentals of knowledge management: connecting people and processes with the needed information.  

No matter how knowledge management is defined, I firmly believe these connections are the key. You can apply any technology, or not, but the connections are necessary for knowledge to be managed. And frankly, sometimes it’s the technology that gets in the way of good knowledge sharing.

So, what did I find? That the fundamentals of establishing knowledge sharing within an organization remain unchanged. Like good systems engineering, programming, or even athletics, the foundations of the discipline are built on understanding the organizational gaps that define a need for sharing knowledge and where that data exists, establishing a knowledge strategy integrated or aligned with the organization’s strategic plan, implementing clearly defined changes over a discrete period, and evaluating how well they meet stated outcomes.

But what about all the changes…big data? Social media? These evolving approaches and technologies, coupled with an increasing consciousness that we really must get a handle on our information and share it better, and bring a richness to any knowledge conversation. With cross-continental teams, teleworkers, and multi-generational organizations, the way we communicate and collaborate begin to demand the disciplined approaches found in knowledge management. We live in exciting times….

Jan 29, 2015

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