KM survey results-Economist Intelligence Unit

A report in webitpr on a suvey conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit says :”Knowledge management solutions are now the most important strategic technologies for large companies, according to a new report and survey of European executives by the Economist Intelligence Unit, sponsored by Tata Consultancy Services.

One of the most interesting findings is “Two-thirds of companies in the survey complain that while their IT systems generate huge volumes of data, much of it is not actionable.”

When I see “actionable”, I remember Larry Prusak’s video(titled “Environmental Sensemaking”) on how IBM resisted the change to move away from being a “mainframe centric” company and join the network computing revolution(I am not able to locate the URL for this).He spoke about the mistake IBM made by focussing excessively on documentation and access to information assests.

In summary, Larry said:

1. Access is not equal to value.

2. In the late 1980s every one in IBM had access to every piece of information they needed. Inspite of that, they almost went bankrupt.

3. Effective decisions weren’t made from the information they had.

4.The mental models of managers and their openness were not influenced by the documentation they had. They believed that mainframes was the the way forward.

Some of the conclusions from the survey by Economist Intelligence Unit and my thoughts :

1.”Too much information impedes decision-making. Over half (55%) of executives say that IT’s failure to prioritise information is the main barrier to effective decision-making. Consolidating information and providing consistent performance indicators are regarded as the most important step firms can take to improve the speed and quality of decision-making. “

Are we back to square-one here? Decisions are made by people. Consolidating information is just the next level of abstraction from “too much information” to “lesser information to deal with”. This is good as long as people “act” with “consolidated information. Did people not act “only” because there was too much information? Is the world so linear and simple? Is too much information the only variable?

2.”Corporate culture is as important as IT for effective knowledge management. The biggest obstacles to knowledge sharing in large organisations are organisational, rather than IT-related. Half of executives say that internal barriers between departments hamper information sharing. Ignorance of what knowledge exists, or of where to find it, is another major barrier according to 41% of respondents. In some cases, a simple solution such as keeping a regularly updated record of who knows what can be more effective than throwing IT at the problem, according to the report.”

Are we addressing the fundamental issue of “trust” here? “Who knows what” is step two. “Do employees trust each other?” is the most fundamental question that needs to be answered. Otherwise irrespective of “Who knows what”, work will not get done. Focus on fostering a environment of trust, nuture communities and then focus on “Who knows what?”.Focussing on “Who knows what?” alone would again be a step backward into the producer-consumer model of knowledge. Effective knowledge sharing happens when the expert “actively engages” with the person who raises a query.

Download the complete survey results here

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