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Abstract

In 2000, a group of knowledge managers from twenty-five companies met to discuss the current state of knowledge management (KM) in their organizations. KM was then in a very early stage of its existence and took a wide variety of forms. Most KM groups were experiencing difficulties determining an appropriate role and function for themselves. Organizations were undertaking many different activities under the banner of KM. These activities were often fairly wide-ranging in scope with broad, general goals. To better understand how KM had matured and to explore its likely future development, the authors convened a similar focus group of knowledge managers in 2003. We found that KM's objectives are now focused into more achievable goals. Increasingly, the emphasis is on delivering immediate, measurable benefits by leveraging knowledge that is already available in an organization rather than on creating new knowledge. KM also carved out some key responsibilities for itself, such as creating and maintaining both an Internet framework and a portal to internal company information, and content acquisition, synthesis, organization, and management. Overall, the KM function became considerably more practical in focus and much less academic. The biggest challenge facing KM in the future continues to be the need to demonstrate tangible, measurable value to the organization. Disillusionment with KM tools and an inability to find useful content are seen as key threats to KM's survival. Maintaining alignment with business objectives is thus the most important means of ensuring KM's relevance. The next few years will be crucial for KM. If it can make its mark and demonstrate its value, we can expect to see knowledge management grow and prosper. If it cannot, its growth could be stunted for many years to come.

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