Wednesday 8 January 2020

What technologies are used for KM, and what value do they deliver?

Here are some more results from our 2014 and 2017 Global Survey of Knowledge management; a plot of KM Technology usage and value.

We asked the survey participants to rate a range of different types of technology by the value they have added to their KM program, giving them the options:

  • Large value
  • Moderate value
  • Slight value
  • No value
  • Too soon to tell
  • Do not use

 513 people answered this question.

The answers allow us to look not only at the usage of the technology, but also (through a weighted average of the first 4 reponese) the value that it delivers.

The chart above shows the survey results in order of value, as a stacked bar chart, with the weighted value shown as a line (this line would be at 100% if all the participants that used this technology claimed it had "high value" and at 0 they all claimed it had no value).

The top of the dark grey area represents the usage percentage for these technologies (the light grey area above represents people who do not use this technology). The top of the green area represents the percentage of people who said this technology had added "large value".

The technology types are listed below in order of usage, and in order of value.

Technology type in order of usage 
(most common at the top)
Technology type in order of value delivered  when used (most valuable at the top)
1. Document collaboration
2. Best practice repository
3. People and expertise search
4. Portals (non-wiki)
5. eLearning
6. Enterprise content management
7. Enterprise search
8. Question and answer forums
9. Blogs
10. Lessons Management
11. Video publication
12. Wikis
14.Social media other than microblogs
16. Expert systems
17. Data mining
18. Innovation funnel
19. Semantic search
1. Enterprise search
2. Best practice repository
3. Document collaboration
4. Enterprise content management
5. Portals (non-wiki)
6. People and expertise search
8. Question and answer forums
9. Lessons Management
10.Expert systems
11. Brainstorming/ideation/crowdsourcing
12. Social media other than microblogs
13. Video publication
14. Wikis
15.Innovation funnel
16. Data mining
17. Semantic search
18. Microblogs
19. Blogs

What does this tell us?

We could take these results at face value, and say that the chart and the lists above represent the usage of the various technology types and (independently) the value of the various technology types.  The strong correlation between usage and value that we see in the chart and lists could represent a tendency for the more valuable technologies to get the greatest use. This is a perfectly valid interpretation.

An alternative argument would be to say that technologies deliver more value the more they are used. Technologies at the top of the list are mainstream technologies, used frequently, and delivering high value. Technologies at the bottom of the list are less mainstream, and deliver less value to the companies that use them, because those companies make less use of these technologies. This is also a plausible interpretation.

Even with this interpretation, we could still look for "Good performing" technologies which deliver more value than their popularity would imply, and "Poor performing technologies" which deliver less value than their popularity would imply.  Under this interpretation, the best performing technologies are Enterprise Search and Expert Systems (both of them 6 places higher in the Value list than the Usage list) and the worst performing technologies would be Blogs (10 places higher in the usage table than the value table).  This of course does not mean that Blogs have no value; it could men that the way they are being used is not adding the expected value (see my post about the "director's blog".

We saw very similar results for this question between the 2017 and 2014 surveys, with some minor changes. Those technologies which most increased in use between 2014 and 2017 were Microblogs and Video publication, and not surprisingly these have also seen the greatest increase in reported value delivery as well. The technology which decreased in use the most over the 3 year period is the innovation funnel technology (capturing and filtering improvement suggestions).

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