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.