The State of Knowledge Management 2014

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I recently released the findings of TSIA's 2014 Knowledge Management Survey, which looked at knowledge management (KM) processes, staffing, and technology. Having presented the data in several conference sessions and Webcasts, as well as discussing the findings with dozens of TSIA members, three themes emerged as hot topics: corporate culture's impact on KM program success, the frequency with which companies "rip and replace" their KM technology platforms, and crowdsourcing knowledge content.

KM Culture

Much of the success of knowledge management programs can be directly linked to corporate culture. Some companies embrace and encourage the sharing of ideas and information, while others seem to reward experts for hoarding their knowledge. If corporate executives set an example for knowledge sharing, and actively encourage all employees to participate, KM initiatives have a much better chance of success. The 2014 Knowledge Management Survey asked, "How would you rate your company's culture regarding knowledge sharing?" using a 10-point scale, with one representing "Share any knowledge and others will take credit," and 10 representing "Leaders set the example and reward knowledge sharing."

With an average score of 5.8, it appears that tech firms still have some work to do to create a culture of knowledge sharing. Though making changes to people, process, and technology to improve knowledge capture and sharing may be difficult for many companies, the payback of achieving an effective KM program holds enough promise for companies to continue to fund projects. When asked how much improvement to productivity could be achieved if the organization was sharing knowledge as well as it possibly could, respondents indicated there were major benefits yet to be achieved.

Forty percent of respondents said that productivity could be boosted by 20 percent to 30 percent with effective KM. A total of 33 percent felt their productivity improvement could be more than 30 percent, with 14 percent claiming more than 50 percent. With this much at stake, companies should take a long look at corporate culture and make sure employees are being sent the right message regarding knowledge sharing. Shifts in corporate culture require a top-down approach, and having executive support for knowledge capture and knowledge sharing is a good place to start.

"Rip and Replace" Cycle

Though adoption of KM technology by support technology is nearly 90 percent, more than two-thirds of technical support organizations, 69 percent, have budget for new or additional KM tools in 2014–2015. At the root of this spending is widespread dissatisfaction with current knowledge tools. In the KM survey, I asked respondents to rate their satisfaction with both customer-facing and employee-facing knowledge systems. Using a 10-point scale with one representing "Needs a lot of work," and 10 representing "Awesome," the average score for customer-facing knowledge systems was 4.9; the average score for employee-facing knowledge systems was 5.0. This ongoing dissatisfaction with the current program has caused many companies to throw out their tools and reboot the KM program, over and over again.

The survey asked respondents how many KM solutions their company has used over the years. Roughly one-third of respondents said their current system is the only solution they've had, another third said they were on their second system, with the final third admitting to having used three or more systems. Those that 

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