Adopting the digital mindset: role of KM professionals in the digital era

Johannesburg, 10 Jan 2019
Read time 3min 00sec

A digital mindset does not always imply technology": an interesting opening statement by Mpumi Nhlapo, thought leader, writer and public speaker on digital economies and emerging digital trends, addressing knowledge management (KM) professionals at a breakfast session, arranged by Knowledge Management South Africa (KMSA).

KM professionals in the digital era need to develop an abundance mindset when they think about the future of knowledge management. Abundance is the ability to leverage your existing technology and to make the future better than you think. Technology allows KM professionals to move knowledge from a scarce commodity to an abundant commodity. This shift in thinking brings about the notion that things do not have to be scarce to be valuable.

The KM professional of the future should function more as a publisher and less as a content manager. No longer are KMers the custodians of information; the gatekeepers of the data that sits in the organisational systems and repositories. A key skill that KM professionals will need to develop is the ability to decipher the content and identify which content is most relevant to the organisation and how it should be shared. The KM professional who will survive is the one who collaborates closely with the communication team to transform the content into a story that must be read like a good book.

Security is a key driver for digital transformation; one cannot manage content and not address cyber security. There is, however, the danger of securing content to such a degree that the content has no chance of seeing the light of day. This defeats the purpose of collecting, storing and managing the content to allow business to make informed decisions. A real balancing act for KM professionals.

With the emergence of the on-demand economy and the rise of the millennial worker, the way we share knowledge has shifted fundamentally. The consumer of the knowledge dictates the speed with which they demand access to the knowledge and the method most convenient for them in the provisioning of goods and services.

The emergence of the gig-economy will shape the way people approach full-time employment. Temporary positions will become common and contracting with independent companies for short-term engagements the norm. In this type of economy, the challenge for KM professionals will be finding new and innovative ways of bringing the institutional knowledge into the work space and ensuring that workers access the full range of knowledge they need to perform their jobs effectively for the duration of their tenure, while performing their tasks remotely, taking security into consideration.

All in all, it is an exciting time for KM professionals to sharpen their communication skills alongside their content management skills to ensure an informed workplace of the future fit for work. It is this marriage of knowledge and communications that will enable effective digital transformation for knowledge management.

Coupled with the above, KM professionals will need to create sustainability around their data to sustain these economies. The question remains: are we creating value out of the knowledge we create, or are we just creating knowledge repeatedly?

Anna Sanfilippo

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Knowledge Management SA (082) 922 8365
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