enterprise social networking

Making knowledge management manageable


Heavy industry of KM

I’ve been thinking about knowledge management (KM) over the last few days as we have a new KM programme kicking off in BT. This is good news as KM has languished a bit over recent months.

Inevitably, the meetings have begun to happen and the latest set of KM papers are starting to circulate for comments/sign-off etc. (… good news is they are in a wiki for anyone in the company to edit/comment upon 🙂 ).

The problem for me is that we are also at the stage where the enormity and complexity of the task ahead becomes apparent in an organisation as large as BT. The temptation is to wheel out the old heavy industry KM powerpoint decks so the strategy becomes so complex that the whole things grinds to a halt and becomes a long series of turgid meetings discussing impenetrable diagrams and concepts.

The truth is, I don’t think we have any chance whatsoever of managing knowledge in BT – if it’s actually possible to manage knowledge anywhere. What we can do is help people to help themselves and others as simply as possible.

It got me thinking about what we can reasonably expect to achieve and which would actually make a difference to the way people share what they know.

If we could achieve three things, I think we will have made more progress in the field of KM than we’ve ever managed before. Those things are:

  • expose in the network who people are and what they are interested in/working on/thinking about …
  • provide a way to search through the above and then offer a simple mechanism to connect like-minded people together in networks
  • automatically expose the activities of individuals to those in their networks through activity streams.

That’s it … simples!

Well … possibly not as simple as it sounds … but achievable at least.

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Enterprise social networking has landed in BT

Last weekend we launched our internal enterprise social network … my profile page is below (still a bit empty as I haven’t had a chance to play with it yet).

BT enterprise social network

So what’s on offer on this page?:

  • top left is the normal friends functionality … only we call them contacts because it would never do to have friends at work 😉 … this also displays a newsfeed of your contacts’ current activities or status (you can edit your status at the top of the page)
  • below that is My personal FAQ which is a place that you, or others, can pose questions that you would like answers for … searchable, of course
  • top right is social bookmarking … although mine is currently empty
  • below that is a newsfeed of activity on my profile page
  • out of sight below the fold is wall or message board functionality.

All good stuff – but what I REALLY like are the two sections (also just below the fold in the central column) called skills and interests. When you type in a new skill or interest, if someone else has already typed in that skill or interest, you are offered that option in a drop down menu. If you select that interest from the drop-down, the system connects you to the other person with the same skill and creates a group page on which you can collaborate … lush! … as my 7yr old son says.

We’re looking at integrating Twitter and blog posts etc. to ensure the page fully reflects all your social activity. It’s very exciting and I can’t wait to have a play! 🙂