The great debate–how social is KM?

My Amazon author page!!!!

I’ve been having an interesting argument lately – that of the delta between KM (knowledge management) systems and social networks. The argument is the question should “KM systems adopt social networking technologies.”

My personal argument for a long time has been the KM systems should be “expert” systems. An expert system has a process of removing chaff and only publishing the wheat. This process is critical to the success of KM systems as I believe they are in place to solve one problem “getting the right answer.” To date, there aren’t any systems in place or functioning that are truly KM  systems. (examples below)

  • Parts ordering KM system: I take a picture of a part that is broken. I upload that picture and the system finds the replacement part for me. I don’t have to search through 20 systems to get the part.
  • Medical library – both for patients and doctors (these exist but need to be combined there are multiple iterations of these today) that allow people to get the best answer to their question.  If you search a medical problem on the internet today you will get an answer – but it will very seldom be the right answer for you.
  • Global sourcing – leveraging social networking technologies to improve KM but taking problems that don’t have specific answers and throwing them out to the social system for the system to mull potential answers.

There are many more answers that are needed of course and systems that support those answers. My contention is that people use KM systems when they have a specific question and they need “the right” answer. Social Networking technologies can be leveraged to improve the “feeder” systems for KM – but KM itself needs to operate as an expert system.

While this all seems pie in the sky, it in fact is possible.


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