Notes on SharePoint for Knowledge Management (July 1, 2008)

Mark Ginnever from Intergen is presenting tonight on Knowledge Management and SharePoint, at the Christchurch SharePoint User Group Meeting. Mark thinks that SharePoint offers an opportunity for the re-birth of knowledge management, following on from the early ideas and then the death of KM in the 1990s (because senior managers didn’t understand it). Mark’s work in the KM area started with his MBA in the UK and associated papers on KM, and consulting work in KM.

The key area of focus tonight is “Knowledge Management within Customer Services — could SharePoint be your Enabler?” The session was jointly run with the Christchurch branch of the New Zealand Knowledge Management Network.

Agenda:
– Business pains and goals
– Understanding the term KM
– Components of a KM strategy
– IT’s role within the strategy
– SharePoint as your Knowledge Enabler
– Microsoft Initiatives

Business Pains and Goals
A new person arrives at a bank, and asks which customers are eligible for a ‘Quick Loan’? The answer is fairly fragmented … Look in the shared drive, see the loan process manager, or wait until the conference later in the year.

Typical answers … Getting a new system to store and surface information about the customer (really information management), delivering enhanced customer value (really process management), or let’s hire a new person (really role management).

Knowledge Management Strategy Enablers
– HR strategy
– Business process
– IT platform
– Culture
– Measurement

Customer service business goals:
– Improve customer satisfaction
– Deliver a consistent, effective services across all channels. They have to sit in between the customer and the people inside the organization.
– Provide fast resolution to queries. Who is the right person to deal with?
– Understand and communicate status, actions and alerts. Perhaps handle this through a dashboard.
– Produce a barometer of customer thinking. These are the people with the real knowledge of what can help the organization service customers better.

Knowledge Management Theory
Definitions:
– “An improvement of the organizational capabilities on all levels of the organization through better handling of knowledge as a resource” (Probst and Romhardt, 1997)
– ” … creating market value through an intangible asset — knowledge — that is held within and between individuals” (Swart et al, 2001)
– “information that is defined further by context or experience or both” (Mark Ginnever)

Terminology:
– Tacit and Explicit Knowledge … From Nonaka and Takeuchi, 1995 … Tacit knowledge is in someone’s head and is difficult to codify, vs, Explicit knowledge is something that can be written down and taught and is less reliant on the context or experience.
– or Sticky and Leaky Knowledge … Brown and Duguid, 1998 … Sticky knowledge is generated from interaction of practitioners, and Leaky knowledge can be used easily in another context.

Knowledge creation and proliferation:
– see the Nonaka, Toyama and Konno 2000, for the socialization, externalization, combination and internalization.

The cultural enablement:
– the aim is to provide a trusting environment where people can share knowledge
– analyze the behavior of staff and understand what support they require
– a collaborative trusting environment is required and this should extend across the boundary into the wider community
– knowledge advocates are required at all levels alongside specialist brokers and translators identified

Knowledge architecture (from Star and Greisemer, 1988):
– translator … A participant between two groups that are exclusive (a mediator)
– broker … A participant in overlapping groups
– boundary objects … Objects, techniques or technologies
– business process (co-ordinated through enablement rather than coercion)

Key roles (from Brown and Duguid, 1998):
– customer service representatives … Needs to respond to the customer agenda
– middle managers … Crucial intersection vertically and horizontally
– chief knowledge officer … Owner of the knowledge vision and vibe (culture)
– lurker … Has cross organizational scope

IT As An Enabler
– needs to support the informal
– reach, reciprocity and reward
– interactivity, participation and learning
– from searching to find and interact … Have to go beyond “findability”
– providing multi-channel communication

The Bank of SharePoint: With a Story
– Mark worked through an example, with screenshots, of where and how SharePoint can be used for knowledge management within a bank.
– Products included SharePoint, Office Communicator, Office Communications Server, some lookups to other systems, email upload to a SharePoint Document Library from Outlook, live chat within a Web browser for customer help, InfoPath Forms, Enterprise Search in SharePoint (for people and documents).
– You have to think SharePoint through correctly to get all of these benefits, My Site

Mark concluded the story by going through a checklist of knowledge management … And concluded that we’d done them all within SharePoint.

Microsoft Initiatives
– Knowledge Network, for collaboration auto-discovery. When you lose a key person, Knowledge Network will tell you who the person was connecting to.

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