Being a knowledge manager can be a bit like being a kid in a sweetshop. There is so much choice of KM software on the market, all of which claims to ensure KM success - it is very tempting to "pick and mix" a solution.
Selecting KM technology should be done in the context of a KM strategy, a KM framework, and a thorough understanding of the user requirements.
We can think about technology as having four functions in a KM framework:
- Technology for connecting people with people, so they can collaborate and discuss. This could include people-finder technology, technologies for threaded discussion, and technologies so people can interact real-time and face to face (such as desktop videoconference and real-time chat).
- Technologies for capturing and publishing new knowledge as user-generated content. This can include lessons management systems for capturing new lessons, wikis, blogs, tools for publishing customer solutions, and online video publishing ("in-house youtube").
- Technologies for organising, sythesising and structuring knowledge, such as portal technologies, wikis (again) and structured knowledge bases.
- Technologies for connecting documented knowledge with people, such as search technologies, and workflow technologies which push knowledge to the user at the start of each task.
The key is to have only one technology for each function or subfunction, otherwise the channels for knowledge flow become duplicated and unclear, with some people using one channel, and others using another. Schlumberger for example, when they introduced SharePoint for document management, disabled the "MySite" feature as they already had a good people-finder system and to introduce a duplicate would be to introduce confusion for the user.
Mapping out your technology needs in this way is a good approach to navigating the "KM technology sweetshop".