Thursday 6 July 2017

KM is dead? Here's data that shows the opposite.

We often hear people say that Knowledge Management is dead, but in fact it has never been so much alive, with an accelerating take-up of the topic.

The idea that "KM is dead" is a meme that has been with us for over a decade (2004, 200820112012, 2015, 2016 to choose but a few) and which resurfaces several times a year; usually when a software vendor has something to sell (example). Very seldom are these assertions of the demise of KM accompanied by any data or analysis of trends, other than the Googletrends plot, which as we have seen, is based on searches as a proportion of the total, and would also  point to the demise of project management, risk management, financial management, and so on. 

So where are the data to measure the health of the Knowledge Management sector?

That's partly why we conducted our KM survey last month - to collect data. one of the sets of data we collected was related to the length of time organisations have been doing KM, and properly analysed this could show us whether the take-up of KM was accelerating or slowing.

We asked people "How many years has this organisation been doing Knowledge Management? Please select the closest number from the list below, giving them the following options:

  • 0 years
  • .5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 4
  • 8
  • 16
  • 32 years
The results from this question are shown below.  Of course we need to state the obvious caveat, which is to say that

(disclaimer) these results are representative only of the population of organisations which took the survey, and not necessarily of the entire KM population. 

At first sight it looks as if the "hump" of KM was 8 years ago, with more organisations choosing the category "8 years" than any other.

However we need to realise that this is not a linear scale, and that organisations who chose "8 years" as the closest number had actually been doing KM for between 6 and 12 years - a 6 year period, with organisations starting KM at a rate of about 17 a year over that period. Contrast that with the 21 organisations that have started KM in the last 6 months, and we see that this plot is misleading, and that we need to have some way to plot KM start-up in a linear way.

That's what we did in the plot below.

This plot takes the same figures, and converts them into the "KM start-year". So the organisations that had started KM between 6 and 12 years ago, at a rate of about 17 a year over that period, are shown with start dates from 2006 to 2011.

Now the picture is very different. Now we can see that the rate of take-up of KM is accelerating considerably. A very similar pattern was seen in our 2014 survey, though with different absolute values as it was a different set of participants.

These data suggest that KM is not only far from dead, it is increasing in popularity year on year as an increasing number of organisations take up the topic.

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