Ron from Prism Legal writes
knowledge management is in choppy waters (...) however, I do not think KM is in any fundamental danger. But we may be in a period of consolidation and more realistic expectations.
For almost two years now, I have been struggling with this nagging question: Can the knowledge economy create new business models? And I think I will also finally end up with a negative conclusion.
The advent of the knowledge age is undoubtedly transforming our lives very deeply. Organized web-enabled social networks that span across the planet change the way we communicate, the way we do business, the way we learn, the way we relate to one another... Our societies will necessarily end up transformed. John Chambers of Cisco was quoted saying back in the dot-com years "Education over the Internet is going to be so big it is going to make e-mail look like a rounding error." It looked like a revolution was coming.
But after four years it looks like the new business opportunities look quite traditional: Universities and business schools educate students about "knowledge management" (or any new name when this one starts to smell foul), combining Computer Science and Sociology. Consultants continue selling "change programs" to CEOs, and Software Editors create new apps and sell licenses. They might do it differently, with more emphasis on markets, like Open Source, and less on bureaucracies, but it looks like it will be more or less the same business models as those we have today.
Why is that? I think just because the pace of change of a human society is extremely sllllooooowwwww. In corporate life, knowledge sharing programs need to engage three levels of constituencies to be successful:
1- The CEO must be ready to sponsor the development of a new networking culture and assign one of his most trusted managers to run some kind of corporate change program,
2- The "Knowledge Officers" assigned to run the various change initiatives must be very well trained and educated to understand the methods, techniques and tools of social networking,
3- The participants must be "web litterate", which means proficiency in the use of technology and in the new writing habits that they impose on us all.
But the reality is that
1- Only those CEOs who are confident in their long lasting tenure, and have nothing to prove to investors truly support these sort of long-term change programs. The others are just pretending.
2- Very few people are actually educated enough to be good "knowledge officers". Most managers assigned to such positions are those left without a seat at the last reorg. They have very few credentials if any whatsoever.
3- Most employees only use e-mail and are reluctant to learn anything new. And they hate to write anyway.
Slow pace of change, same business models. Cry with me, all ye Knowledge Managers. Your salaries will not increase any time soon...