Friday 22 November 2019

Should you use a single technology platform for KM?

Does KM need a single technology platform? More likely it needs several technologies.

This blog post was prompted by a thread in Stan Garfield's SIKM community asking what technology platform people use for KM. My immediate thought was that a single platform probably is not sufficient. However let's look at our survey results to see what people actually use in real life.

Firstly, let's look at how many tools people use for KM. 

In our global KM survey, run in 2014 and again in 2017 and answered by over 700 knowledge managers, people were asked to select, from a list of technologies, which ones they applied as part of their KM program, and if their tool was not on the list, to identify it in an "Other" box. The number of selections (including the Other box) is shown in the pie chart below. This particular question was answered by 270 people.

Please note, from the pie chart below, that 37% of respondents use a single technology platform for KM, while 63% use more than one. 

Secondly, lets look at which technologies people say they use

The table shows which technologies people said they use for KM. Please note that respondents were asked to identify every tool they used, so 63% of respondents identified more than one of these tools.. Please also note 162 people replied "other", which is the third highest category after SharePoint.

Technology brand
Number of users
SharePoint customised
SharePoint "out of the box"
In-house tools
IBM Social Content Management

The people who replied "other" identified the following additional tools:

.NET Cloud Program - switching to Confluence, 365, Tallyfox, Dartfish tv, 3ms internal , Adobe Defense Connect Online, Microsoft Outlook, Aptify, Basecamp, Bespoke, Black board, BMC Remedy, BMC Remedy, O365 (collaboration), Box, Caltura Video, SAP Jam, SAP Portal, Confluence, Adobe Connect, CISCO WebEx and Jabber, Cloud based server - Dropbox, Controlled Access Folders, Cornerstone, Cornerstone OnDemand, Cosential; Newforma; Fairsail; Ajera, CRM Dynamics, CubicWeb Semantic Web Framework, current still using static tool for Intranets (Dreamweaver)., Customized app,, Cynapse, Day Communications Intranet, Decisiv search (Recommind), develop own portal , DMS iManage, do not know, Documentum, Documentum , Documentum, Drop Box for external collaboration until we have a solution, eGain, eGain, ELGG, EMC2 E-View, excel, exo, Filesite Document Management - imanage, HP Content Manager, Pega, Huddle, Huddle; Tibbr, IBM Connections, Inquira, iManage, iManage Worksite DMS, ConceptSearching, Recommind Decisiv Search, Outlook, HighQ, In house developed, Institutional repository - DSpace, Integration within ticket tool (CA USD/Service Now), Internal developed platform, Internal support portal, internal system, Internally developed systems, jabber, webx, asana, JAM, JIRA, Joomla, Joomla, Joomla, Knowledgeplaza, Laserfiche, lenus - library  open access repositary , Liferay, LifeRay, Reverb, Linked-In, listservs, Lithium, many in-house tools, Market Logic Software, MEETSYS / I2Kn, Melling and graphic representation applications, Microsoft CRM, Migrating from Lotus to Sharepoint, MindTouch, ServiceNow and Zendesk, MOODLE, moodle, Ms Dynamics, Newsgator, not public information, Office365, OneNote, open asset, pipedrive, 10,000ft, our DMS, PipelineDeals & The Box, platform by ourself, PLM, Plone, Plone by Google, Podio, QDAMax, Qlikview, qimingkeji, radio     internet, Recommind Decisiv Search, Remedy Knowledge Management, Research Management System, Saba, ScienceDirect, SharePoint customized is coming in 2018, SharePoint has been slightly customised on a look and feel basis, ShoreTel Connect, Joomla!, Worldox, Sitefinity, O365/Lync, Sitrion, Sitrion NewsGator, Sitrion, Kapow, Semaphore, Skype, skype for business, Skype for business, Newforma, KA Synthesis, Social Network interface - cannot remember the name of the provider, Social Sites, Social squared, Socialtext wikis, Software platforms due to be replaced, Soutron, SSRS, Starmind; Exalead, Synthesis, Synthesis, Tailored EPI Server, Tibbr, Tibbr, Tortoise Subversion / svn, Trello, TRIM, Unily, Verint, Vivisimo, vivo, We are retiring SharePoint and moving to Google in 2017, We leverage the O365 suite of tools, so I would also include Sway, OneDrive, Skype, OneNote, and to a lesser degree, Delve and Planner, as key platforms, We use our DMS, iManage as a repository for explicit knowledge, Workplace (facebook at work), WorkSite by iManage, XING Groups Management; mixxt wiki and doc mngt., Yammer free version, Yolean Checksheets, Zendesk

Thirdly, let's look at the tools used by the 37% of people who use only one technology.

Here SharePoint dominates this category. 62% of people who use a single tool, use SharePoint.

Please note that this does not say whether SharePoint is a good or bad solution, only whether it is commonly used.

Finally lets look at why people use technology in KM in the first place. 

Ideally this should be the place to start - to ask "what functions do we need of a KM technology platform". As you can see from the graph below, there are many functions.

For many functions, you need many technology platforms. SharePoint, for example, is good at enterprise content management, document publishing, and on collaboratively working on documents (the number 2 most popular function in the graph above).. It's document search (number 1 function) can be described as poor, and it is poorer at searching for people (number 3 function). It is OK as a tool for community forums, but gets few recommendations as a wiki-substitute, and you would not use it for video publishing or lessons management.

So it handles documents OK, but probably needs to be supplemented with one or more other KM tools to cover the more tacit areas of knowledge.

In conclusion; 

You probably need your KM technology to provide multiple functions, and therefore you are likely, like 63% of the survey respondents, to use more than one tool. If you choose a single platform, then recognise what its good at, and what its poor at, and be prepared to supplement it where needed.

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