What is a Knowledge Management System?

A blog by Martin Erasmuson.

This blog is a response to the article and commentary on the LinkedIn Knowledge Management group titled: How to find the ROI of a knowledge Management syystem?

What is a Knowledge Management System?  Or more precisely, what is a Knowledge Management System today?  Many folk in the KM game can likely recall being part of ancient (20th Century) KM initiatives that might have included: an electronic document & records management system (EDRMS), Knowledge-Base, content management system (CMS) and possibly hard copy records management (RM) to name a few.  Notably, back in the day, these were invariably on-premise systems and likely not integrated.  Even pre-2000, establishing the ROI of such systems was difficult but at least the on-premise costs and over-heads were relatively straightforward.

So back to the question: ‘What constitutes a Knowledge Management System today’?  And assuming it is possible to answer that question, ‘How would you go about establishing the ROI of such a system’?

In my blog ‘Good enough is the new perfect’ I quote David Russell Schilling who, back in 2013, suggested that ‘human knowledge was doubling about every 13 months’.  And then IBM theorize (human knowledge] could someday double every 12 hours!  What does a KM System look like to adequately respond to such a changing landscape?  Before we all reach for the water-proof safety underpants, I go on in that blog to quote author Liz Wiseman from her book ‘Rookie Smarts’: “When there is too much to know, the only viable strategy is to know where and how to find the information you need, when you need it”.  As Wiseman asserts, this is the ‘only viable strategy’ for organisations in the 21st century.

In today’s world those ‘KM Systems’, we knew in the past, assuming they even remain relevant, will just be part of a plethora of on-premise and XaaS applications, RSS, Atom and any number of other web and data feeds.  But more important than the constantly changing technology will be the requisite culture shift within organisations that acknowledges and accepts the new 4th Industrial Revolution world that Wiseman describes will be notable for changing, just as soon as you think you know what the heck is going on.

For those wanting to work out the return on investment in such an environment, good luck.  If IBM are correct, you’ll need to work that out, understand what it means and implement any actions in less than 12 hours.  Perhaps the real question then is: ‘What is the ROI in even trying to work out the ROI on a 21st century KM system'?