A round-up of the last three months of Jinfo coverage of knowledge management plus insights from our director of research, Robin Neidorf.
During a recent presentation to a Boston-based group of pharmaceutical information professionals, I was asked to provide Jinfo's definition of knowledge management (KM). I defined it as follows:
Responsibility for setting strategy, systems, processes and measurement for maximising the value of knowledge in the organisation.
Part of that presentation involved discussion with the group around the potential opportunities for them to make a valuable impact on their businesses through ownership of knowledge management. This observation came from our Research Focus: "Benchmark information roles - optimise your structure", which closes this month.
Which services do you provide?
When interviewing benchmarking participants, we asked if their information departments (or equivalent) own or run any of these four core information services:
Figure 1 shows their responses. There are interesting variations by industry on this datapoint: information teams in pharmaceuticals and manufacturing are far less likely to include knowledge management as one of their services than are teams in professional services and related industries. In fact, teams in professional services were likely to tell us that they report into a knowledge-oriented part of the business, leading up to a chief knowledge officer in many cases.
Figure 1: Which of these core information services are performed by your department?
Where do you report into?
Figure 2 shows how the line of reporting coincides with the likelihood of the department offering the four core services.
Figure 2: Likelihood of core services offered by information team, based on line of reporting
We have reiterated a key point throughout our analyses of our data: no particular configuration of services or reporting structure is the "right" one. Instead, we recommend that information managers maintain a deep understanding of where these areas of expertise show up across the organisation and create strong connections with complementary parts of the business as a result.
Who should be responsible for knowledge management?
Knowledge management can be the responsibility of internal communications, human resources, innovation or the information service... but it does need to be somewhere. And it cannot be outsourced to technology.
To be sure, there are incredibly clever and powerful systems that support knowledge management. We're hearing about more data mining and AI-based tools deployed against the challenge of making knowledge visible and available. But these tools are not "the answer" any more than discovery, federated search or intranets were when they were first achieving widespread adoption.
In the coming months, we have two Research Focus projects with components highly relevant to knowledge management strategy:
Both speak to the combined strength of technology, source material, information expertise and user behaviour to leverage the visibility and value of knowledge.
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Current and upcoming research and events
The next Research Focus: "Define and manage value for current awareness" runs from October - December 2017, and examines the re-balancing of sources, content, technology platforms and user behaviour in creating an information-savvy environment. Knowledge managers will be particularly interested in our coverage of technology platforms and how they support interactions with and awareness of a range of internal and external resources and make it easier for users to connect with the information they need.
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