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September 02, 2010

Knowledge Management Using Enterprise Wiki, Collaboration And Social Media? Absolutely!


Few people would argue that to be effective knowledge management must involve collaboration and engagement techniques. Using enterprise wiki, social media and other already existing tools might be an effective way to win over employees and build a reliable knowledge management environment. However, there are problems with using popular social networking and collaboration tools, be it TypePad, Twitter, YouTube, Zimbra or another “general purpose / general audience” software in a corporate environment.  These tools were never intended to work here and might actually hinder productivity by allowing discussion veer away from the work topic.  They often lack structure and user control, as well as granular security and privilege control essential in business. At the same time, traditional knowledge management software provides little incentive for employees to share knowledge, collaborate, provide peer feedback and advice.

Recently we ran into a situation in my company and for a lack of an existing solution had to create our own “dog food” that we now can share with the world at large. The problem was inside our production department. The company that services rather complex electronic machinery to my surprise had no KM system to speak of outside cell-phones with push-to-talk capability. Whenever something rare or unexpected happened, a more experienced technician had to be located and walk his less experienced colleague through a procedure. One day, when it turned out that the more experienced technician had retired three years prior, it became apparent that
1. This “KM system” is unsustainable; and
2. The situation is not unique in the business world.

That day we started developing a knowledge management system that would allow organizations to create structured knowledge base, at the same time providing opportunity for workforce collaboration. Given mobility of todays’ workforce, it is imperative that such a system could be accessed from a mobile phone, as well as a computer. Today this system is working and as one of the first users I am fairly satisfied with the result.

Absolutely! is entirely new enterprise wiki style knowledge management software which combines benefits of a traditional knowledge management system (structured categorized framework for entering and finding information) with the collaboration and engagement features of wiki and social networks. Authorized users can contribute information, discuss it, collaborate with the peers, seek and give advice and feedback.  It works on top of Google Apps, which turned out to be very convenient – users can select, mix and match existing information from various documents / web pages without the need to re-enter it again. If information is changed in Google Docs, it changes in Absolutely! automatically, making information maintenance much easier. And, mobile access comes very handy.



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