Knowledge management: Firms will adopt a global approach in 2022
Javier Magaña García assesses the drivers of knowledge management in the professional services sectors, including firms, going into 2022.
Over the last two years, driven by the need for collaboration in a predominantly dispersed and home working environment, firms have recognised the need for knowledge management (KM) as a business-critical function.
In many organisations, access to the firm’s ‘collective experience’ was restricted for various reasons, from poor connectivity issues through to security and data protection protocols, potentially because processes were essentially designed for office-based activity.
To address these problems, firms revisited their approach and processes related to KM, making significant strides. Thanks to the business value these measures have delivered, from all reports, firms will not be resting on their laurels. Rather, they will continue to build the function.
Expansion of repositories
Whilst the KM function delivered significant benefits to firms during the pandemic, at the same time, it brought to light the function’s limitations, mainly due to configuration and structures as country-specific repositories. The sudden switch to remote working, and now the new hybrid work environment, has created the need for firms to expand their KM systems to serve as centralised global, yet multi-lingual-enabled knowledge repositories, working as effectively and intuitively in each of the identified languages.
In 2022, multi-jurisdictional firms will focus on revisiting the taxonomies and document classifications in their KM systems so searches for knowledge deliver results equally and effectively, regardless of the language in which the search is conducted. For example, if a document is classified or labelled as ‘tax,' the same document must surface if it is searched for in Spanish as ‘impuestos’ or in Italian as ‘le tasse.’
Professionals search for ‘knowledge’ that is generated internally, but equally routinely explore external third-party content resources – legal databases, the web and such – for relevant information, which can be anything from documents and legal precedents to named experts and online articles.
In most organisations, due to a lack of integration of technologies and resource repositories, professionals often have to look for information in different resources individually. This is time consuming, but more crucially, it restricts 360 degrees view of the subject matter they are searching on. So far, establishing this kind of integrated KM capability has been lacking due to the technical challenges it poses to technology providers and firms alike.
In 2022, firms that have reached a reasonable level of maturity in their KM functions, will actively work with technology solutions providers to attempt to create enterprise-wide knowledge portals to facilitate holistic searches across all repositories and resources.
The proof of a pudding is in its eating. For KM departments to ensure the function is tailored to the needs of its professionals across the enterprise, insight into how the KM system is being used and where the gaps exist, is essential. Intelligence such as what kind of searches are conducted, the differences in focus by country, whether professionals find the information they are looking for, in what subject areas is knowledge lacking, and so on, are important insights to help drive improvements in the KM function.
In 2022, KM departments’ focus will expand beyond maintaining the technology and software – i.e., the KM system – to actively leveraging reporting and analytics to monitor adoption of the function and the value it’s delivering to the firm.
Additionally, with a move towards global, multi-lingual KM functions, analytics will be indispensable to ensuring KM is geared to meet the needs of all departments and jurisdictions equally.
This will lead to greater user adoption which in turn will encourage firms to explore newer technologies such as artificial intelligence for the KM function – and the cyclical nature – i.e., technology delivering business value, users adopting the function more and more, firms then increasing investment and so on – will continue and indeed gain momentum.
Javier Magaña García is technical director at Lexsoft Systems lex-soft.com