Most people who specialize in business or IT are should already be familiar with the concept (and benefits) of knowledge management.  For those of you who are just discovering it (knowledge management), KM can be defined as sort of comprehensive approach to gathering, using and distributing information, experiences and practices within an organization.  In other words, KM is chiefly concerned with making sure that all insights and beneficial practices get adopted and that the mechanism by which information (knowledge) is gathered becomes self-sufficient.

In the same way that knowledge management can beef up the way an organization or business functions, social knowledge management can bring new insights by way of social media.  So, what is social knowledge management, specifically?  Simply put, SKM is a way of using social media to discover, share, store, distribute, utilize, cultivate or assess old or new forms of information / knowledge.

For example, recently collected data could easily be shared across a network of employees or customers through social media. Likewise, this setup can be used to extract additional insights about the collected info as well; perhaps via opinion polls or your standard comment boards.  Additionally, when you place something into a position where it will be evaluated and scrutinized by a network of people there is also the possibility that they will inadvertently help you improve upon it.  It’s a pretty simple and straightforward notion, actually; clearly there’s power in social media, why not tap into it to improve your approach to knowledge management?

How can social knowledge management benefit your organization?  When you think about social media, concepts like “crowdsourcing” immediately spring to mind.  In essence, methods like crowdsourcing (which is simply relying on a large group or collective to provide funds, products or services) allow businesses to plug into the combined brain power, labor and resources of many individuals.  Moreover, most people contribute to crowdsourcing projects freely.  In other words, this could be seen as a highly valuable asset for use in improving one’s approach to knowledge management as well as the collected knowledge itself. Another way of looking at it is – many people working together in concert will often be able to solve problems faster and with better results than smaller groups (even those which contain experts / specialists).

Similarly (and depending on what area(s) of interest you’re dealing in), social media can also be used to actually generate usable knowledge.  Arguably, this is the absolute best specific example of SKM in use as it allows a company to extract real value from their social media endeavors.  In some cases, the insights gained through a social knowledge management program will allow businesses to build extremely effective marketing plans which will ultimately lead to increased profits.  In other cases, SKM might give an organization the ability to actually make direct improvements on their products and/or services (by analyzing the concerns and qualms of its customers / users).

Here are a few more examples of how social knowledge management can be applied in the real world.  SKM can be used to:

  • Bolster the abilities of any department operating within an organization – regardless of whether you’re employed in production, manufacturing, human resources, IT or even customer support, there are social knowledge management tools and methods which you can use to improve the way work is done.

  • Build better searchable databases which offer browsers more relevant results.

  • Create systems for collecting ratings and reviews – which is certainly valuable when it comes to trying to improve the quality of one’s operation(s).

  • Build a new type of business infrastructure that incorporates both IT as well as social media tools to constantly analyze data and extract value from it while at the same time feeding business management new ideas.

  • Build incentive systems like a gamification platform – in general, social media is great for deploying gamification apps and infrastructure; likewise, it can also be used to share knowledge and distribute results about ongoing activities.

Quite simply, social knowledge management is a useful “expansion” of knowledge management.  Social media is directly influencing our lives in ways we haven’t yet been able to fully comprehend – its effect on KM is also fairly substantial.  The question is – given that social media is so powerful, why shouldn’t we use it to improve specific areas of business like KM?  Clearly, knowledge management itself has made a major impact in the business world, particularly among corporations which have reported successes on numerous fronts with their individual programs and approaches to using it.  Extending knowledge management operations out to include information and data emanating from social media is arguably the next logical step (when it comes to knowledge management).

What’s your “next logical step” with regards to knowledge management and SKM?   If you’re an IT pro, you should get certified in KM.  It’s affordable, convenient and pretty easy; start your online course today!  Click here!   


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