Changing Roles of Knowledge Manager: Charting A New Destiny for KM

ACIES Innovations
November 15, 2020
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A quick analysis of JDs on KM job advertisements in LinkedIn shows that expectation from practitioners still revolves around content management and social networking. Though some companies make the JDs look different, by adding words like strategy, leadership communication etc., essentially the requirement is the same. However, things are going to change very fast. KM practitioners should hold on tight as they will go through a roller coaster ride.

Every now and then, new companies are getting formed, which are focusing solely on search and content-related problems. With the drastic advancements in search technology, it is not only easy to find the right content, but the content will come to you instead of you going to the content. We are fast moving into an era where the majority of the work done by KM practitioners will get automated. Recently, I came across a company named Pingar. It focuses on solutions that help in finding, organizing and managing content. It can crawl through documents, create an ontology for specific areas and automatically map keywords to content. With the technology we have now, we can have intelligent search engines, both based on open source technology like Apache Solr, Elastic search or proprietary technology, which can be used with some additional coding to push content through emails or other channels to employees. Instead of employee searching for content, the tool will understand the content required and push it.

Digital assistants can keep tracking the work of employees and take up operational work, allowing employees to focus on more complex tasks. Knowledge sharing and collaboration activities can be easily coordinated by these technologies. Essentially what it does is to help in the knowledge and information need of the employee, by providing access to the right knowledge easily. Check out NEVA from There are many more products like this. We are also talking about AI being used to create content. Some of the content of the Washington Post is created by their algorithm Heliograf. In a nutshell, the majority of the Legacy KM type work will get automated.

Impact of the emerging technologies will be more pronounced on KM teams in Consulting Organisations or BPOs. Another set of Organisations will be the aiding agencies and NGOs, like World Bank, UNDP whose KM function has focused on Legacy KM.

This is however not a gloomy situation and a happy one for the practitioners. While they will have to unlearn and relearn new roles, their roles will have a direct impact on the Organisation. Visualizing a few:

  • Knowledge Orchestrator: Tool driven Knowledge sharing, collaboration and content creation. Knowledge managers job will be driven by specific insights on reports on knowledge need and they will accordingly manage the supply of knowledge through tools.
  • Knowledge Generation and Bringing Down Complexity: Through focused lessons learned, knowledge generation and capturing activities, Knowledge managers, will work towards bringing down complexity in performing tasks by the Organisation. They will benchmark how tasks are performed against industry standards, assess the gaps and close the same.
  • Embedding Knowledge: Work with relevant teams to ensure knowledge gets embedded in the way tasks are performed. This can be at the tool level, process level or employee level. The KM team will work closely with process team, tools team and learning and development team for this.
  • Overseeing Effectiveness and Efficiency of KM Tools: When the tools take up most of the work of KM practitioners, their role will move to the next level of assessing the impact of tools, improving it and adding new tools. This they will do through the technical team.

Knowledge manager need not be a technical person but should have good knowledge of the application of technology in KM. He or she would have a deep understanding of the way Organisation works and focus on aligning KM interventions with the goals of the Organisation. They will be connected with L&D team, CIO team, Process team, Tools team and HR team as part of their work.

We look forward to a KM function which may not have any shades of Legacy KM but will be the engine of growth for Organisations.

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