The future of knowledge management tools.
Knowledge is power. The proverb may be overused, but the facts remain. The more you know, the better you’ll do.
The companies that prioritize, seek and value knowledge beat their competitors.
The individuals that keep on learning, keep on winning.
But how do you manage that knowledge on a corporate scale? It’s hard enough to retain what you know and keep your own google docs up to date. How do you effectively and efficiently manage hundreds of people and millions of files?
The problem is that the more information and people you have, the more difficult it is to create a clear, cohesive system and to find things. Managing a small team of five that works in the same building is a lot different than managing a team of 500 spread across countries and time zones.
Most of us use a knowledge management tool to simplify the process. Up until now, they’ve done their job well enough. But, the tools that are “good enough” today will not be enough to meet tomorrow’s challenges.
Let’s take a look at the qualities that a future-ready knowledge management tool should have in order to be effective.
Handle all types of knowledge
Video. Audio. Images. Plain text. PDF. Links. SMS. Zip files. Sticky notes. Google docs. Pages. Whatever file type Apple creates in the future.
Your knowledge management tool needs to handle all sorts of files with ease so that they can be accessed by anyone, anywhere, from any device.
But, it’s not just about the file type. Your tool should handle different types of knowledge.
Most tools manage explicit knowledge well because it’s easily sharable. But what about implicit and tacit knowledge that’s been gained through years of hard work and experience? They play a vital part in your success and are easily lost when team members retire, move departments or leave the company.
Automatically label and group knowledge
You can have access to the best information in the world but if you can’t find at the right time, it’s useless.
Organization is key. Your knowledge management tool needs to be a portable librarian, cataloguing and sorting information using a pre-defined system.
Make sure curators have access to the right labels and understand how everything needs to be structured for maximum efficiency.
Differentiate between information management and knowledge management
Information is passive and easily forgotten. How many of us remember the key points of an article we read last week?
Knowledge is active. It’s internalized. When you know something, you understand how it relates to other objects and ideas and can apply it in various contexts.
A tool that manages knowledge has to do more than gather countless files of information. It needs to capture know-how. It has to help users understand context and internalize what they read.
Capture the knowledge of outside experts and freelancers
More individuals are leaving traditional employment behind to go freelance. A 2016 survey by Upwork and the Freelance Union found that 35% of the American workforce are freelancing on a regular basis. Based on current trends, this number will grow.
These professionals bring unique expertise. If your company uses contractors on a regular basis, it may be beneficial to have a specific on-boarding and de-brief process that captures their know how.
Battle department silos and work with the clock
Your knowledge management tool has to be simple. We are dealing with enough complex tasks on a daily basis without adding more to the pile.
It needs to be something that works across departments and breaks the barriers between teams in different locations.
It has to be easy to use, easy to integrate, easy to share.
Lack of time is the biggest reason we don’t get things done. It’s why details get lost, projects get dropped and items get pushed further down the to-do list.
A knowledge management tool needs to be intuitive and make it easy to capture knowledge without taking up any extra time.
Integrate with your team’s favorite tech
To remain up to date and relevant, a KM tool needs to work together with the software that your team uses day in, day out.
It needs to be easy to import knowledge from one location to another.
This is why we created Paperbot, a chatbot that integrates with Slack and collects all the links and data that are shared there. Because that’s where your team is sharing data, that’s where they are talking, interacting, engaging with each other. An effective KM will find a way to get into the party and understand what’s going on.
Remain active and up to date
Remaining up to date is going to be the most challenging aspect of any KM system.
On the one hand, you don’t want software that throws out the old, proven information for the uncertain and new. On the other, developments in certain disciplines happen incredibly fast and have wide reaching effects.
Competitive companies have to make that knowledge easily available to their teams. A KM tool that can recognize influential new developments by scanning reputable, peer-reviewed sources and flagging them, will have an edge.
Your management tool will be a team player
There’s no turning back the clock- intelligent machines will take over a lot of mundane, repetitive tasks and become even more indispensable to us.
A study by Accenture found that the relationships between workers and intelligent machines will continue evolving and resemble human to human interactions.
That’s why your management tool will need to be a team player. It has to have the capacity to interact with other technology and gather data from various tools.
It’s going to have to play nicely with other platforms and meet the needs of the company.
Getting ready for the future
No prediction is going to be 100% accurate. Even the best guess is just that- an educated assumption based on current trends.
We know that knowledge is increasing faster than ever, with no sign of slowing down and software is getting better at understanding our immediate needs and fulfilling them.
Any tool that hopes to last, needs to evolve smartly, do more and learn with us. It needs to become an integral part of the team.
Is your KM tool ready?