Monday, October 20, 2008

Debate on Social Media vs. Knowledge Management

Vekat Rao spurred the debate on Knowledge Management (KM) and Social Media (SM) philosophies with his thought provoking article Social Media vs. Knowledge Management: A Generational War. He reasoned that as much as IT senior leaders think KM and SM are loosely aligned concepts, there are fundamental technical, cultural and philosophical differences between Knowledge Management and Social Media. While KM is centered on predefined charters, expected value and governance, the themes and charters of SM endogenously evolve with group behavior and opinion leaders naturally emerge as a result of the group behavior itself. He points that KM is an unsuccessful attempt to dictate how the world should be, while SM is a real attempt to figure out how it is. Venkat predicts that KM will eventually die and SM will evolve, perhaps by incorporating some best of KM.

While I agree with Venkat’s explanation of SM evolution and its applications in enterprises, I am not in total agreement that KM will eventually die. In my experience so far, I noticed profound applications, driven by underlying business need, for both of these models. For example, the business need to create, approve, authorize and deliver just-in-time corporate compliance, policy & procedure content necessitate the need for traditional KM style
Content Management Systems. Think about the content for Corporate Compensation Policies and HR Polices – while content in this case is incarnated by various corporate specialists, SMEs, the business need demands for clear charter and governance structure for incarnating, approving and authorizing the content. In contrast, when the underlying business driver is to drive innovation with group wisdom, SM is a perfect fit. In fact, in some of my earlier enterprise implementations we successfully used both of these models – Knowledge Management style systems to incarnate, maintain and deliver just-in-time context-sensitive role-based policy, compliance and procedure style content, and Social Media to drive innovation with group collaboration and wisdom.

1 comment:

Gopi Padakandla said...

Brent Miller and Venkat responses to my comments at -