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How Should Your Knowledge Management Strategy Evolve?

By R. J. Stangle / Mar 05, 2015

Search engines and social tools have transformed how we access, share, discover and judge information. 

We rate, review, comment, upvote, downvote. We curate and select the content that is most relevant to us through platforms like Pinterest, Tumblr and Evernote.

I recently read an enlightening piece, Where is the Web Going, by Nir Eyal  author of Hooked. As he describes the evolution of the web, there are clear parallels to knowledge management and lessons from our past that can be applied to our strategies today.

Whereas Web 1.0 was characterized by content published from one-to-many and social media was about easily creating and sharing content, from many-to-many, the curated web is about capturing and collecting only the content that matters, from many-to-one.

Web 1.0: “In the beginning we published”

From the late 90’s to mid 2000s, we entered the era of Web 1.0: the “informational web”, made up of relatively static pages and functioning much like an immense library of magazines and newspapers. As with the offline world, content creation was dominated by a small monopoly of publishers, AOL, Geocities and eventually Time Warner – who together effectively controlled the information the majority of us consumed.

The early days of knowledge management looked much like Web 1.0. The field of knowledge management emerged around the mid-70s but really came to prominence in the 1990s – with companies investing in centralized content management systems with strict publishing rules and approval workflows. These systems were controlled by a KM team, responsible for defining and publishing all the relevant information employees and support teams needed to know.

Web 2.0: “Then we shared, and shared, and shared, and shared some more”

With the launch of MySpace (2003) and Facebook (2004) the Social Web came into its own. User-generated content grew exponentially through social publishing and sharing platforms like YouTube, Instagram and Yelp. More than 65,000 new videos were uploaded to YouTube in 2006. MySpace was getting more than 20 million visitors a month.  This era echoed back to Sir Tim-Berners Lee’s original vision of the Internet as a social platform,

“A collaborative medium, a place where we could all meet and read and write”

Knowledge Management followed the path of the web and went social in the late 2000s with the rise of solutions like Get Satisfaction, Lithium and Jive. Now, user-generated content was being created in a business setting, with people-powered online communities, company social intranets, and employee communication solutions.

In this social era, knowledge is no longer defined and controlled by a central authority, but is created and shared by employees across the company, as well as by customers.

Web 3.0: “Turn down the noise: welcome to the curated web”

It appears that there can in fact be too much of a good thing. If Web 1.0 failed us by publishers controlling too much content, the Social web is failing us by having almost no controls. We are overwhelmed by the endless flow of essentially unfiltered news, photos, videos, etc. This in turn has created a need for a curated web; a way to focus only on the content that matters. From LinkedIn Influencers to Pinterest and Tumblr to Evernote, Web 3.0 is all about curating the best content from across the web.

As with Web 1.0 and Web 2.0, Knowledge Management will once again follow suit. With so much content across an enterprise, even enterprise search is failing. Unlike web search, where algorithms like Google Page Rank are able to discern relevance, the enterprise has no such signals. Enterprise content must be curated. But unlike the web, where curation is done by individual experts and influencers, the modern enterprise is team based. And the curators of knowledge in an enterprise will be teams.

KM 3.0: Curated Knowledge Management 

Imagine a Pinterest or Tumblr for your business that allows teams to curate not only web content, but enterprise content as well. Imagine content from your knowledge base, your wiki, your communication channels (email, chat), your ERP system, your documents, all curated and searchable from a single interface. Think about team-specific knowledge (like the latest in content management strategy for your marketing team), project-specific knowledge (think research for a legal file), or topic-specific knowledge (like information security best practices); the possibilities are endless, just as they are specific and unique to every team.

At AppHelp we’re building Reveal to help teams curate the best content from across the web and their enterprise, making knowledge discovery and sharing as simple and effective as it can possibly be.