The jury is still out on whether knowledge management is ready for prime time, but many forget that the success of these systems depends more on human management than on any technological aspect. Over the last few months, the need for effective knowledge management has been greatly magnified in the face of massive layoffs.
From an IT perspective, Ive seen many a company get burned either by its own management-driven layoffs or by attrition. Often, the sudden departure of these employees leaves an all-consuming vacuum of knowledge, which can have potentially devastating consequences when problems arise and the skills and know-how required to avoid disaster are no longer readily available.
So what happens in these cases? Typically, a company has two unsavory choices: kowtow to a recently excised IT staff member and pay him or her an hourly rate more than double his or her previous salary to fix the problems, or bring in hired-gun consultants and pray they can fix the problems in a timely manner.
Move this example to the sales or marketing department and the situation gets even worse because neither unsavory alternative will work in these cases. After a salesperson has been laid off, would they be willing to give up their prized contacts and leads? Likewise, how many marketing managers would be willing to fill in the blanks on an uncompleted product road map?
Using a knowledge management system, an IT manager has a way to capture the lightning of information in a bottle. In theory, that means that information created within a company stays there, even when workers bolt for other jobs.
You can build the best search engine with the latest technology and search algorithms from the brightest professors money can buy, but if that information isnt held within the company, none of it will matter.
In the end, as technophiles and IT managers, we have to remember that there is a reason “information” comes before “technology” in “IT.” If you cant get your employees to capture their information within the framework of a corporate network, no technology will make that information accessible.
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