A business is, in essence, a vast collection of knowledge and information. It's what's behind the creation of benchmark products and services, and it exists as a web of insights and ideas shared by staff. It's in your documentation—your manuals, guidelines, lists, databases, memos, and files. And it's also in the minds of your team members, as the expertise you need to capture to enhance your business. Knowledge is power, and when properly harnessed, it fuels a successful company.
Technology has had a tremendous impact on knowledge management (KM), inspiring the development of robust software platforms to leverage KM strategies. Knowledge management software continues to evolve in response to new demands and challenges.
Let's look at 15 emerging knowledge management trends for 2017 that are changing the course of KM software.
Social media has revolutionized the way we use the Internet. People are taking to Facebook and Twitter not only to share personal stories but to promote their business' products and services and to connect with larger audiences. Social networking sites are highly effective tools for marketing and communication, and they're also extremely easy to use. As a result, the "social" element can be integrated with a variety of application types, including knowledge management software.
When social media elements are blended with KM software, the workday becomes easier. Staff can communicate more intuitively and engage more effectively, since social elements are "second nature."
Search functionality is critical, and largely depends on indexing, which organizes search results so that they're relevant and coherent. Social business applications like social intranet software and KM software rely on robust search functionality to ensure peak performance.
As search indexing continues to mature, users will be able to retrieve files and documents more rapidly, increasing productivity.
Collaboration enhances business processes, but connecting your team members can be a challenge, especially if you have staff working remotely. Fortunately, KM systems are becoming more collaborative than ever, as seen in social intranet software, allowing individuals to work on documents and communicate with each other in real time.
Look around any coffee shop these days, and chances are you'll see at least a few people staring at their smartphones or tablets. Mobile technology has become a primary means of accessing the Web for both personal and professional reasons. Mobile devices save both money and time, and as a result, mobile technology and KM software will soon be inseparable.
Staff members need access to an organization's knowledge management system (KMS) while they're on the go. Vendors are making sure that their social intranet software works on smartphones and tablets without issue in response to this demand.
Early versions of KM software featured long lists, elaborate file names, and spotty functionality. Images and icons were almost nonexistent, and users had to scroll through dense lines of text to locate documents. However, the visual aspect of KM software has evolved, and current software increasingly relies on images to help users navigate more easily. Text-based lists will be all but replaced with images when it comes to searching for files and documents.
Between communicating, scheduling, managing projects, creating content and other activities, many of today's professionals find themselves juggling numerous instances of software just to stay on track. External processes will always be necessary, but that doesn't mean they can't live in the same place as KM. Social intranet software eliminates the need to log into several different applications. Users can work from an integrated suite that allows for all processes to be handled in one convenient space.
Staff members are actively looking to contribute to their companies by sharing their insights and ideas. KM is shifting from control to cultivation, so that your team can share information organically. To encourage this engagement, KM software permissions are becoming more flexible and inclusive.
Content such as blogs and articles are essential tools for marketing. Organizations regularly generate new content to keep pace with increasing demands for information. KM software now allows you to tag, share, and organize content as soon as you create it. This helps to cut down on confusion and makes knowledge management a more interactive process.
Your KMS is a social community in which information assets are shared, refined, and organized. However, businesses often suffer from information overload, particularly during periods of rapid growth and success.
Finding a fix used to be difficult, but KM software allows for segmentation of information into multiple community spaces. Your marketing team won't be overwhelmed with documentation that pertains to accounting or tech support.
The segmentation feature will continue to play a major role in the future of social intranet and KM software.
The point of contact between your staff and your KMS is the user interface, or UI. The UI is what your staff sees on the screen when logging in, and it directly affects how users navigate and experience the system. A well-designed UI will allow you to leverage your system properly, while a confusing UI will only frustrate and confuse your team.
Software development teams are dedicated to creating increasingly intuitive UIs, and top-notch UIs are becoming a make-or-break element in KM software.
As business processes become more holistic, KM software is developing a more robust approach that includes vendors, clients and customers. Newer KM software options allow for external integration so that internal and external parties can share information more easily.
Automatic, consistent updates are becoming increasingly necessary as new challenges and solutions emerge. Social intranet software suites are always in flux, improving with each update, and the future holds even more surprising tweaks that will help to improve productivity.
Several social intranet software options can be described as "one size fits all." These are suites that claim to fit the needs of practically every type of organization, but is there really such a thing? Your company is unique, and you need a knowledge management software solution that fits you rather than something generic. Customization is essential to the success of your software implementation.
As social intranet and KM software evolve, they will continue to become more customizable, allowing you to scale your solution to match your organization's growth. This is by far one of the biggest emerging knowledge management trends for 2017.
Customer support is vital to an organization. Since your KM software houses your product and service documentation, it's the perfect platform for customer service. Integration of customer service is already here, and will always be one of the most important things for any organization to focus on.
Regardless of how well-designed a KMS may be, bugs and other issues will occasionally arise. The trick is to find and track problems as quickly as possible. Knowledge management software has started to feature ticket systems and customer support features for just this reason.
When employees, customers and vendors encounter bugs or issues, they'll be able to instantly open a ticket for administrators to review. This community-based development keeps systems at peak performance while promoting user engagement.
KM software is rapidly becoming more accessible and functional. The world's most forward-thinking businesses are already using these software suites on a daily basis, with proven results. Consider adding social intranet software with KM features to your business strategy, and harness the full power of your organization's information assets.
Tim is president and co-founder of Axero Solutions, a leading intranet software vendor. He's also a bestselling author of Who the Hell Wants to Work for You? Mastering Employee Engagement. Tim’s been featured in Fortune, Forbes, TIME, Inc Magazine, Entrepreneur, CNBC, Today, and other leading publications.
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