Monday 6 February 2012

If knowledge management is dead, why does it have such a strong pulse?

alive Every so often, there comes a rumour that knowledge management is dead.

It’s not surprising really, given that it is such a confused field, and given that knowledge management blends into so many other fields, such as content management, information management and social networking.

What seems to happen is that a new field develops, adopts the knowledge management name, and after a while states that knowledge management is dead, replaced by this particular field.

But I think if we want to tell whether something is dead, we have to take its pulse.

Speaking as a knowledge management professional; director of a consultancy that has been working in knowledge management for over 12 years, the pulse I am interested in is the marketplace. If knowledge management is dead, we won’t see any contracts. If we are seeing lots of contracts, then knowledge management is not dead.

I have to tell you that we are seeing a massive number of Knowledge Management contracts at the moment. Since the depth of the recession in 2008 and 2009, our order book has become more and more full. 2010 was our best year for half a decade, 2011 was our best year ever, and the start of 2012 has been better still.

Our approach to KM is to address the knowledge issues of the organisation, rather than information issues, content issues or social issues. We are seeking to answer the question, how can we introduce a culture and a framework which make sure that people get the knowledge they need to take the right decisions, and deliver the best business result.

 For us, this is the core of knowledge management, and the market says that the core is alive, well, and growing.


Aprill Allen said...

I agree. Knowledge management is definitely NOT dying. IN fact, I think it's about to go *boom* and social media, blogs, etc are helping our cause. People are finally beginning to see the value in all that content and they are starting to wonder how to harness it, and how to make sense of it as it applies to their own business.

Nick Milton said...

Thanks, Aprill, I agree with you also, although I would change the word "content" to "knowledge", as for me, Knowledge Management is not just about Content. However I agree with you about the facilitating role that social media can play

artschlussel said...

I'm glad you wrote this blog article. If someone outside the KM profession read the KM forums they could very well take away KM is dying, or at a minimum in a state of disarray. I like the metrics you use to show that KM is in a state of growth. The measurement I use is the number of job descriptions with the term "knowledge management" in them as my yard stick, and I am seeing more and more jobs using KM as a needed competency. is a job aggragation site. I did a check this morning. Across the U.S.A. there are 4,306 jobs with the term "knowledge management"; 95 jobs with the term "knowledge manager",18 jobs with the term "Chief Knowledge Officer"; and 15 jobs with the term "Director Knowledge Management."
KM isn't dead or on the decline, and the need for organizations to better manage their organiztional knowledge (intellectual capital) is only going to increase. But you already know that; hence the increase in contracts.

Nick Milton said...

Thanks Art. Yes, job ads are a good metric (although there is a huge range in the actual jobs - see

Most of the posts I have seen that say "KM is dead" don't seem to have any hard evidence for this, and the hard eveidence we both have seen, points the other way.

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