Knowledge Management and Technology

April 9, 2007

This article has been moved here…..

When i started this blog the underlying reason was that there was a huge disparity between what i’ve read about knowledge management and the way its actually implemented in most organizations.

If you ask any KM expert about whether there is a standard method of implementing KM chances are he/she would probably say there isn’t one. It entirely depends on what your goals are and how these processes are received by your audience. At the end of the day, that is what really matters. The greatest KM Framework would still flounder if there isn’t buy-in from the grass roots level.

It has always been stated that Knowledge Management is not about technology. However from what i’ve seen in most companies (these are relatively large corporates which have their people spread all over the globe) technology seems to be the backbone of the KM initiative. Unless you have a platform that allows people to extract the information they want and allow them to contribute to the system, chances are your KM strategy will not work.

This is because the average employee in the organization is so focused on his job that anything above and beyond is considered an effort. Though, dont expect people to come running just because you have built a system. There has to be a benefit to the employee, this can either be in the form of making his job easier to do, or providing an incentive for him to contribute to the system.

There are exceptions however, the whole open source community is built on a knowledge management model. The initiatives here aren’t driven by incentives – and while there were skeptics, at the end of the day these have showed us that knowledge management can sustain itself in the long run.

I’ve tried to put down the basics of KM in the form of strategies that you might want to use to create an underlying framework to tackle an initiative like this. You can read those articles here.

The bottom line is, regardless of what technology you use, at the end of the day you need to get your people the right information at the right time, with as little effort as possible.

MS Wiki Vs Wiki

April 2, 2007

This article has been moved here…..

Right, i’ve already put up two prior posts on the wiki functionality thats available on MOSS 2007 ( Microsoft Office Sharepoint Server 2007 ) , You can read them here and here.

Now while it’s a great thing that Microsoft have finally awoken to the wonder that is the wiki, an in-depth look at the functionality would give an average wiki user the shudders.

While it is true that MS Wiki ( thats what i’m going to call it going forward ) does have a few of the basic features that we’ve come to expect of any wiki, the features it doesn’t have really makes you wonder if this isn’t a 1.0 version that’s been launched on the unsuspecting public.

Being a fan of mediawiki i’ve come to expect that all other wiki’s display the same high standards ( i’m pushing it here i know ) . But basic things like a categories function seem to be missing from the MS Wiki package. Which means that grouping the “articles” you create becomes a logistics nightmare. The only actual wiki feature that microsoft have managed to incorporate into the product is a web based UI and an interlinking feature ( i dont consider versioning a true innovation as its functionality derived off MOSS 2007 ).

So, to sum it up…….. What Microsoft seem to have done is create a web based front end for microsoft word, and slipped in a interlinking system and called it a wiki. Even with the versioning system this is probably the simplest and least effective wiki i have come across ( Please feel free to disagree with me if you’ve seen worse ). I truly hope they plan to move to a “2.0” version quickly, ’cause i dont see people waiting till MOSS ’09.

Wiki’s in SharePoint 2007 – Part 2

February 22, 2007

This article has been moved here…..

My last post introduced you to Wiki’s in Sharepoint 2007 ( MOSS 2007 ). I have since had the time to explore this feature in greater detail, and to be honest was very impressed by what i discovered. I was a little apprehensive about the wiki feature for the simple reason that being part of the Sharepoint platform might have encouraged over-engineering. However aside for the rich text editor ( which makes the process of adding content that much easier ) the basic layout and functionality of the wiki hasnt changed. So if you are a contributor on Wikipedia you needn’t worry.

The major benefit for corporates of having Wiki as a part of the new Sharepoint Portal is two-fold. The first obviously is that now corporates have the ability to tap into and facilitate the creation of information using tacit knowledge. The second is making use of Sharepoint features like security controls allows them to impose a greater level of control that doesn’t exist in wiki’s like Wikipedia ( a thought that scares them half to death i’m sure ).

So what does Sharepoint allow you to do with the wiki?

  • Wiki pages can be created under any group or library , if for example you have a particularly interesting post on your Blog ( Another new feature of MOSS 2007 ) you could spin this off into a Wiki and have other people collaborate on it.
  • Permissions can be set at a page level, which means you can restrict which pages other users have acces to within the wiki structure ( something i havent heard off in most other wiki’s )
  • You can also add Meta-data to your wiki pages, as with any other document library. So you can showcase pictures ( for eg ).
  • You can also set e-mail alerts on your Wiki pages.

It also offers other features than we’ve come to expect from all Wiki’s :

  • Interlinking / Creating new pages using double brackets ( [[ ]] ).
  • History tracking of the document. The added advantage here is that being incorporated on the Sharepoint platform you can actually pull the persons contact information of the exchange server.
  • Lastly, versioning and reverts of wiki pages.

If you are interested in the product i’d suggest downloading a free version and experimenting with it.

Wiki’s in SharePoint 2007

February 21, 2007

This article has been moved here…..

We’ve known for a while now that Microsoft was slow in catching up with the rest of the world when it came to online collaboration and social networking. SharePoint 2003 is still being used to this day by a large number of corporations, and is widely renowned as the product that failed as a Knowledge Management tool.

SharePoint 2007 has made huge leaps ahead with incorporating social networking features like RSS, Wiki’s and Blogs as part of its basic setup. Sticking to the simplicity that we’ve come to expect from Microsoft products a person with zero technical knowledge can make use of these features. Though there will be a slight learning curve for new comers as most corporate users arent aware of what a wiki is and how it can be leveraged to generate information.

Creating a wiki is a pretty simple process, its like creating a document library , and once you’ve set it up the process of building on it is pretty straighforward. It even incorporates a full set of rich text tools and buttons that we have gotten used to on Word. They’ve even provided a provision to track the history of every wiki page!!

I’m still in the process of experimenting with the wiki’s on Sharepoint but from what i can see the future looks very promising. Sharepoint as a Knowledge Management platform? never thought i’d say those words, but looks like Microsoft have finally gotten their act together. A blessing for the organizations running 2003, if you still indend on sticking to the same platform i’d suggest upgrading, and upgrading fast.