Enterprise 2.0: AIIM’s KM Conclusion

Among the many results of the AIIM survey on Enterprise 2.0, I’d say we have strong contenders for the awards for most surprising and least surprising. Both are in Section 5: Generational and Cultural Impacts.

The surprise comes from the generational impact, or rather, from the weakness of that impact. Part of the rhetoric about E2.0 is that it will be driven by the Millennial generation. But Millennials (defined as those currently between 20 and 35) are not, according to the survey, significantly more likely to embrace E2.0 than are Gen Xers or Boomers.

So what does have an impact? That’s where the culture comes in. Specifically, organizations inclined toward knowledge management tend toward E2.0 more than do non-KM-inclined organizations. When this finding was presented at the E2.0 conference, my first reaction was: duh, E2.0 is a form of KM. Let me use my good nature and academic vocabulary to put it another way: the finding represents empirical support for an intuitively obvious association.

A search turns up the slideshow Enterprise 2.0 = Knowledge Management 2.0?, Dan Keldsen of AIIM posted to the web after presenting it in this very year in this very state. If we divide both sides of the equation by 2.0, we get simply E = KM: the assertion that the enterprise is all about knowledge management. I think that the assertion is interesting, true, and useful enough to be worth making.

That reminds me of an article about KM that’s interesting, true, and useful enough to be worth at least a skim: What’s Your Strategy for Managing Knowledge? published in Harvard Business Review a few years ago by two academics and a consultant. It was based on research conducted in consulting firms.

The consulting business employs two very different knowledge management strategies. In some companies, the strategy centers on the computer. Knowledge is carefully codified and stored in databases, where it can be accessed and used easily by anyone in the company. We call this the codification strategy. In other companies, knowledge is closely tied to the person who developed it and is shared mainly through direct person-to-person contacts. The chief purpose of computers at such companies is to help people communicate knowledge, not to store it. We call this the personalization strategy.

We can use the distinction between these strategies to classify the tools of E2.0. For example, wikis are tools for codification, while social networks are tools for personalization. To illustrate the difference with consumer-facing Web 2.0 tools, Wikipedia is about codification, while Facebook is about personalization. This reminds me of my distinction between content and connection, although that’s more because it’s my distinction than because it’s become widely used.

And now, it’s time to end this post and formulate what may be the world’s first and last “Two academics and a consultant walk into a bar” joke.

5 thoughts on “Enterprise 2.0: AIIM’s KM Conclusion”

  1. Hi Andrew – thanks for the commentary.

    It is funny – we specifically wanted to measure the age difference issue, because it did seem to have both the potential to be true (duh, young people are swimming in new tech, and in general are faster to adapt – that’s the nature of the human mind), and false (the “old people” didn’t get to be in the positions they are in by sitting around like lumps – they wouldn’t be employed if they were purely obstacles to progress). So, nice to get some data to back up where things are and aren’t.

    On the Enterprise 2.0 = Knowledge Management 2.0 front, seems we’re circling in similar orbits for sure.

    That’s why I disagree with Ross Mayfield (of SocialText) on “if we have to settle for KM-inclined companies, we’ll have a really small market.”

    Well, if enterprises don’t exist to perpetuate their own knowledge (by selling products, services, expertise, etc.), how do they stay in business and prosper? Can’t learn and improve without knowing what did and didn’t work, or at least knowing what was done before. Capture your practices and thoughts (of any kind) at the least, and perhaps get to the holy grail of identifying best and worst practices, as KM practitioners have done now for some 10-20 years at the least. Whether people are allergic to KM as a term now, is certainly up for debate. So call it something else, but that’s what Enterprise 2.0 is about.

    And to the topic of our forthcoming research, the Market IQ on Findability, a major point of Enterprise 2.0 is to bring forth all of this “stuff” (content, information, knowledge, data) out into the open so that it can be found, re-used, manipulated, etc.. Otherwise, what is the point of wikis, blogs, rss, etc.?

    I like your point about connection – the raw content may not be the entire desired end result. But without some initial content, how would people know that they would like to connect/network with someone? (internally or externally)

    Content (via blogs, wikis, microblogging, podcasting, etc.) provides the context to understand what value can be had by connecting, and takes networking into the realm of value rather than a pure numbers game (although large networks certainly hold more possibilities than small).

    Anywho, this is all really interesting stuff, and folks, there is honest to god UTILITY/USEFULNESS in all of these technologies.

    Incidentally, I’m more than happy to network widely and deeply – feel free to connect with me via LinkedIn ( http://www.linkedin.com/in/dankeldsen ) or various other social media/networking services, and let’s see what we can accomplish together.

    (And being in Boston, I’m always interested in meeting in person, to add even more “reality” to networking. I’m in the Financial District – and summertime is here. Stop on by!)

  2. Dan,
    Thanks very much for taking the time for such a thoughtful and wide-ranging reply.
    One thing that occurs to me about the age thing: what you found was that there was little difference between generations *among those who responded to the survey*. But are your respondents representative of the population?
    I’ll respond to some of the other points in email, or, I hope, in person soon.
    By the way, folks, Akismet thought that Dan’s comment was spam. It’s one of the few mistakes Akismet has made on this blog. I’m not sure what it is about Dan’s comment that looks suspicious.

  3. Another response to Dan: interesting that the next project should be “Findability.” Interesting for two reasons. First, because your E2.0 survey points to the existence of E2.0 activity within organizations, but to a lack of awareness, let alone management, of the activity on the part of execs.
    Second, I had trouble finding your report at first. Both Google search and the search box at the AIIM site pointed to what seemed to be an old URL. Now there’s a failure of findability!

  4. Irony is something else, eh? 🙂

    Findability and E2.0 – the SLATES and FLATNESSES frameworks both talk about Search and Tags (and for that matter Links), which add up to (we hope) a whole lotta find going on. Should be more likely than ever to find content as a result of multiple means to the end.

    That said, what were you searching on that popped up old URLs? I want to look into that and bring to the attention of our IT folks, for anything that’s in our control.

    The shortcut to the research is http://www.aiim.org/enterprise20 – for what it’s worth.


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