Social Computing Upends Past Knowledge Management Archetypes

… or so Forrester Research holds in this report:

When knowledge management (KM) practices, tools, and architectures burst onto the scene in the mid-1990s, they looked a lot like the old economy businesses that built them, hierarchical and workflow-driven. Now, Social Computing tools are flattening those architectures and extending the reach of KM well beyond the walls of the conventional enterprise to touch customers and business partners. Information and KM professionals are becoming knowledge facilitators, and they must get smart fast to capitalize on this trend. Although disruptive, Social Computing will transform KM, shifting the emphasis from repositories, which are hard to build and maintain, to more intuitive, tacit knowledge sharing. Social Computing is becoming the new KM, moving it from an often too academic exercise into the real world of people sharing knowledge and expertise with each other naturally, without even thinking about it.

Overall I am glad that Forrester Research is pushing this specific application of social software, as this is good news for social software and knowledge management consultants like frogpond.

But I would elaborate on their argument, basically because when many past knowledge-management projects and initiatives did not work out as planned, they did so rarely because methods or tools lacked.

For social software to turn out successful, it can’t be sufficient to ponder, propose and promote (new) methods and tools.

What is also needed is appropriate groundwork and background, i.e. paradigms and principles that guide the selection and usage of methods and tools, and insight into the nature of complex organizational systems. Emergence, connectivity and adaptivity are traits of organizational systems that are supported and leveraged by social software – good for organizational knowledge management but not restricted to it.

If you’re eager to know more and are looking for social software support and consulting assistance, contact me.

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