Technology plays a significant role in any successful KM system and utilising the right technology can make the difference between failure, mediocrity or success.
It can be difficult to select the right technology suitable for your particular KM needs and the level of document management integration that your business requires.
The right technology is a tailored solution
To get the technology right, you need to tailor your solution to the needs of your business, by considering your document, information and knowledge management needs and the budget available for implementing your new or upgrading your old system.
You should also ensure that whatever system you implement or upgrade to will be capable of upgrades, to ensure that your system can continue to grow and evolve with your business.
Unfortunately, in the current marketplace there is a significant disconnect between the development of consumer technologies and technologies aimed at high-end users of document management and KM systems. This is very simply explained by economies of scale: while the general consumer market has millions of participants, high-end business users of document management and KM systems number in the hundreds around the world, making significant development costs potentially difficult to recoup.
Technology should facilitate, not dictate
The key to a good KM system is to keep it simple and not to overcomplicate it with technology. Technology should facilitate your KM system, not dictate it. The right technology should simplify the collation, organisation and management of your documents, information and knowledge and should provide a simple, user-friendly interface for distribution to and access by your workforce.
In most context this will mean online delivery of your KM system via your intranet. I am a strong advocate of KM delivery online, as web-type interfaces (especially those utilising Web 2.0 technologies such as blogs and wikis) are now commonly used and therefore widely understood and easily adopted by employees, increasing user acceptance, frequency of utilisation and therefore productivity and costs savings.
Security will play a significant role in deploying any KM system. Your information is valuable intellectual property and appropriate measures will need to be taken to protect it, e.g. monitoring access.
Don’t try to be an expert … get an expert
It is important to recognise that we can’t all be experts in everything. Document, information and knowledge management are specialised areas and so is the technology required to implement appropriate systems.
Getting your technology wrong, either by investing in an overpriced system with all the bells and whistles you will never need or by going with the cheapest option and ending up with a system that fails to meet your organisation’s basic needs, can be a costly and long-lasting mistake.
It is important that you speak to the right experts, especially when it comes to selecting the technology you will implement for your KM system.
Plan, don’t rush
Finally, it is essential that you plan the implementation or upgrade of your KM system methodically. Allow time for studying your business needs, researching available options for your new or upgraded system and for its implementation.
Remember training …
You will only achieve the expected productivity increases and costs saving from your new or upgraded KM system if your employees embrace it and incorporate it into their day-to-day work routine.
Therefore it is imperative that you devote sufficient resources to training your employees in using the system and make sure they receive refreshing courses from time-to-time! Utilisation rates of your KM system will benefit from employees who are knowledgeable of the system and confident using it.