Thursday, March 23, 2006

The Differences in KM Around the Globe

Organizations based in the US, most of whom operate globally, are focusing their KM efforts primarily in two arenas: collaboration and content management. Collaboration serves as the vehicle for sharing tacit knowledge and rapid problem solving. Collaboration is focused on enabling work teams scattered around the globe. What is new is the emerging prominence and formality of CoPs, responsible for finding and sharing best practices, create new knowledge, fostering innovation, and enhancing the organization’s image in the eyes of customers as a knowledge-based enterprise.

As for content management, organizations are trying to manage the knowledge and information they already have. Businesses are awash in valuable explicit information, and want to try to organize it, usually to support a work flow or product line, or to avoid litigation and risk, and make it easily available to employees. In some cases they are also making it available to customers and suppliers.

APQC is seeing equal emphasis on tacit knowledge exchange—communities—and on content management.

APQC does see a continuing shift in funding models. More and more, the business units, rather than a corporate group, are appointing KM managers and funding collaboration. They turn to the central IT organization as the key supplier for the tools to make it happen. For content management, the same picture is emerging.

The challenges have not changed: ensuring an ROI for KM efforts, giving people time to do it (or creating roles that are explicitly accountable), and dealing with other cultural barriers to having people spend time in knowledge sharing or content management activities.

What about organizations with their historical and cultural roots in EMEA and AP countries? Is the focus primarily on collaboration? Innovation? Content management? Are the challenges the same?