Wednesday 12 September 2012

KM is not dead, it's established.

There has been some discussion recently in the ACTKM group in Australia about the death of KM - one of the primary indicators for KM's demise being the Google Insight plot below

This plot shows a steady reduction in searches for the term "knowledge management" over the past 8 years.

Does this mean that KM is in a decline? On first sight, you might conclude that this is the case, and that the death of KM is only about 2 years away.

However when you look at search terms for other management disciplines, you find similar trends.

Here's Risk Management - also in decline

Here's quality management - very similar to KM

Here's cost management, even more similar.

So all of these plots say to me that Knowledge Management, as far as Google insights is concerned, doesn't seem to be significantly different in trend from other management disciplines. You could argue that the curve for KM is steeper, but not significantly so.

So a couple of conclusions

1. Google trends is not an absolute indicator of the popularity of a topic. That is because Google trends measures "how often a term is searched for relative to the total number of searches, globally".  The number of searches for knowledge management, project management, risk management etc may have remained constant, while the total number of searches, everywhere in the world, has rocketed.
2. On this evidence, KM is about as dead as risk management, quality management and cost management.
3. KM seems, on this evidence, to behave like an established management discipline. This is good news! KM is not dead, it's established.


Ian Fry said...

As Bill Hall points out on that ACTKM post, the measure here is this search term as a % of all search terms.
So searches for KM may have actually increased; but all the searches for "Julian Assage","Tea Party", "London Olympics" have reduced its % of the total.

Hendri Ma'ruf said...

Perhaps, in the last 8 years, those who'd like to know have got their answer. As time goes by, more and more people are knowledgeable about where to go deeper regarding KM--which means Google is not needed anymore to search "knowledge management."

Nick Milton said...

Could be, Hendri, but on the other hand, the number of hits to our website from Google search have been rising steadily - nearly doubling each year. People are still searching!

"Go Figure!" as they say

Anonymous said...

Nick, what may be interesting is to see what has been happening over the past decade with jobs that either have KM as part of the title or require the applicant to have experience in KM or that state that the job will require KM activities.

I suspect that you will see the curve to be the mirror image of those that you have taken from Google Insights.

Lisandro Gaertner said...

I believe people are looking for people more than they are looking for "information". When you find someone on twitter, FB, linkedin, blogs, wherever, who share the same interests than you, you use that person as a source of information, curating what comes from a lot of different sources.

Bruno Winck said...

Or may be those predicting the end of KM should invest in KM:
Knowledge is precisely used to make sense out of information.
In this case by comparing to other terms you proved once again knowledge is making the difference.
Now I agree Ian, it's a proportion. Other subjects but also google is more mainstream.
I am using it even to check a phone number.
Another trend I saw was that due to inflation of answers people tend to be more specific.
Interesting also the price of "Knowledge management" keep increasing on adword.

Rudolf DSouza said...

My belief is that the term KM is giving way to more esoteric terms like 'innovation' which are coool to use. ( I am guilty of hedging my bets when forming my KM consulting practice 2 weeks age- I have called it InKnowin Consulting- Winning through Innovation and Knowledge Management ) I will be blogging on this aspect in a short while. Rudolf

Hendri Ma'ruf said...

This is precisely what I mean. On one hand, those KM-inclined minded people feel no need to go to Google (etc) search engine because they know where to go. On the other hand, LinkedIn (etc) serves as information source, where they can go deeper. It is in LinkedIn (as one example) the discussion of KM happens widely and deeply, where they are informed about I believe, those who have wandered in KM virtual discussion, once they know will usually come back.

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