We’ve all heard that old chestnut ‘knowledge is power’ and recognise the truth of it in our everyday working and personal lives. However, in recent years it has become clear that globally, we’re somewhat lacking in the technological and ‘high-end’ skills that many businesses and large organisations require.
Of course, in order to gain highly qualified employees, it takes a certain amount of investment. However, this takes many forms and one of the most important for modern enterprises is recognising and fostering those that have knowledge in the first place.
With the knowledge economy comes a growing demand to commit to an education that fosters new knowledges, capabilities and dispositions. Examples of this include responding positively to change, embracing technological understanding, developing critical awareness, thinking in new ways that cross traditional boundaries like culture or subject disciplines and imagining many futures.
Whilst this relates to the education system, it’s also true of enterprise. Organisations need to be innovative in order to attract and retain staff (and the knowledge they possess now and in the future) that can move them forward. These days, knowledge is not only power, it’s also something that can be used within an organisation to foster innovation.
What is Knowledge Management and why is it important?
According to Gartner, “is a business process that formalises the management and use of an enterprise’s intellectual assets. KM promotes a collaborative and integrative approach to the creation, capture, organisation, access and use of information assets, including the tacit, uncaptured knowledge of people.”
With this in mind, in the modern organisation, it’s essential to ensure that this integrated approach is taken if it’s to maintain an agile, productive and innovative working environment. Happily, the technology that’s required to do so is now easily assessable, more affordable than ever before and simple to deploy.
Databases, documents, policies: all of these are assets that an organisation is accustomed to managing. The same can't always be said about an organisation’s employees though and for those that have thus far not seen them as business assets, it’s time to ensure that they do.
In order to do so though, organisations must give employees the tools to ensure that they can share the knowledge they possess.
There are several reasons why knowledge management is important.
- It ensures all relevant information and resources can be accessed by employees when they need it
- Important knowledge is kept within the business even after employees move on from the business
- It avoids duplicated efforts
- It ensures your organisation effectively takes advantage of existing expertise
- It standardised processes and procedures for knowledge management
This all leads to faster and more effective decision making and easier collaboration. More importantly it stimulates innovation and growth.
The New Digital Workplace
To facilitate knowledge sharing is to ensure that it is retained within the workplace. For the most part, the problem that many organisations face is that the way we work and the demands put on modern organisations has changed beyond recognition.
The workplace was once composed of a physical office space with employees working face-to-face and through email during set hours between 9am to 5pm. Fast forward several years.
It is now the norm for employees to be working across multiple locations, hours and devices; the workforce no longer confined to a single office environment.
As these distributed workforces emerge, the need for team-based and collaborative, digitally connected work environments becomes to knowledge sharing, retention and access - aka the digital workplace.
Step Two Designs defines a digital workplace as a “holistic set of workplace tools, techniques, platforms and environments, delivered in a coherent, usable and productive way. It allows stakeholders to co-create content and work together with little to no friction, delay or challenge to perform their jobs more effectively”.
In this digital workplace employers must give their workers the support that they need to facilitate sharing which can take the form of:
All of this can be done by adding social and learning aspects to the intranet (which often forms the basis of an effective digital workplace), so that their distributed workforce have an outlook for expression too. Using intranet social tools also allows employees to get to know one another, no matter what department they’re in, thereby embedding them even further into the organisational culture.
We're seeing the younger generation leaving jobs that don’t live up to their expectations and this is something that organisations must recognise and attempt to halt. Whilst the global skills gap exists, it’s an employee’s market and this means that in order to satisfy and retain employees, enterprises must ensure they keep talented employees satisfied, but reducing any friction involved in letting them do their jobs efficiently and effectively.
The intranet is a great facilitator of this as it provides a central hub to be set up to easily share and access resources and social aspects to be added for better communication of information between employees in different departments and locations.
The social intranet is especially useful, as it can be used as a ‘go to’ for those who are looking to further understand the organisational requirements which enable them to do their job effectively.
In order to do this, it takes a little knowledge gathering and pre-planning:
- Audit of the existing digital workplace to identify areas for improvement
- Look at what areas can be expanded upon to increase value to client and employees
- Enrich that knowledge base with further information
- Enable organisation-wide sharing
- Assess future knowledge sharing and look at how it can be taken to the next level
The Social Intranet
Much of this can be facilitated by adding social into the digital workplace mix. This means that everybody, from the most senior to the most junior employees, can add what they know about their jobs into the organisations knowledge pool, which can then be easily accessed by fellow colleagues.
This can be done with the use of:
- Profiles for employees
- Collaborative team workspaces
Of course, who has the ability to add what to wikis and blogs will depend largely on the workforce and size of the organisation. However, the ability for employees to do this means that the knowledge base of the organisation is one that is constantly growing and further, belongs to the organisation, rather than an individual.
It’s necessary to plan with the following three key areas at the front of the pack:
Technologies come and go and most organisations are somewhat resistant to change, which is essentially what creates the problem in the first instant, so it’s highly necessary to place people in a centric position. Workers who feel that they are valued are valuable as they will essentially be happier in their work, something which leads to increased productivity.
Organisations of all shapes and sizes can easily add aspects into the intranet to form an effective digital workplace, ensuring that the working culture becomes and remains more innovative and collaborative, providing excellent customer service and retaining workers that become an asset.
Efficiently handling information and resources within an organisation is easier said than done. However, organisations that will be successful in the future will be those who tear down the divide between people, technologies and the workplace; enabling knowledge to be captured and flow easily between the right employees.
If there are no barriers dividing the workforce, everyone will be empowered to do their job with quick access to resources (both people and information), to be creative and productive wherever they are.
We strongly recommended you watch the Best Practices for Digital Workplaces video. It will provide you with actionable insights into the essential elements of a digital workplace, and how it can assist you in effectively capturing, storing and providing access to valuable knowledge and information in the form of databases, documents, policies, procedures, FAQs, online workspaces and more.