Is Knowledge Management Dead? Yesterday’s Approach is—Here’s Why

by Shelf

Is knowledge management dead? We live in an on-demand society where customers expect accurate answers to their questions more quickly than ever before. If your knowledge management solution produces slow or incorrect answers, you diminish trust among customers and frustrate employees.

You may have experienced complaints among department leaders that may have you wondering, “is knowledge management dead?”

In this post, we’ll answer this question and build a case for why traditional knowledge management approaches will soon be replaced by a new, modern definition of knowledge management.

Is knowledge management dead?

Is knowledge management dead? The answer is complex. The traditional approach to knowledge management—as a way to organize, store, and retrieve knowledge—is becoming obsolete. Simple plug-and-play knowledge bases are everywhere; employees often don’t know where knowledge is stored, so they create their own repositories.

The problem is that knowledge is everywhere; the amount of knowledge has increased dramatically since 2020 when employees had to find answers themselves as a result of a pandemic that limited face-to-face communication.

The traditional approach to knowledge management

In the early days of knowledge management, service representatives would sit in cubicles and answer questions, often with a binder beside them with answers to all the most important questions customers might ask.

Unfortunately, since the information age, this approach to customer service has seen very little change. The binder of information may have been digitized, but otherwise, you still see customer service teams struggling to wade through rivers of information to answer questions as they come in. Instead of tabbing through a physical binder, representatives have to juggle multiple tabs on their computers.

In the aftermath of the information age, knowledge bases have sought to enable people to store and retrieve helpful information. Over time, knowledge managers realized their company’s knowledge ecosystem must be searchable—some managers turned to federated search as a quick fix. Sure, you can query multiple knowledge sources, but this still won’t fix a knowledge quality problem.

Aside from search, many knowledge managers still scramble just to keep knowledge updated, accurate, and trusted—a tall task for even a team of operations, content, and knowledge specialists.

At the end of the day, the world is oversaturated with information and even the best knowledge managers can only process and report on so much.

The modern approach to knowledge management

Knowledge management as a whole will exist in the future, but its definition must evolve and change.

No, knowledge management isn’t going anywhere, but traditional knowledge management objectives (like capturing and storing) are nothing new to organizations that already have tons of knowledge-related data they can’t manage.

In the years to come, knowledge management must evolve to meet the needs of customers and employees. Beyond tagging, categorizing, and search features found in knowledge management software today, expect KM tools in the future to:

  • Automate knowledge work for managers who live in knowledge management software
  • Use artificial intelligence to deliver recommendations
  • Integrate knowledge in enterprise applications

Findability and searching for knowledge

For many employees, searching a knowledge base to find an article is a frustrating experience; this common practice requires manual effort and is extremely time consuming.

Sure, in certain instances using a search bar or browsing content in folders is the best option if you don’t know where to begin a search. Findability can and will improve with technology. But in the future, expect knowledge to find you—not the other way around.

As an example, within a contact center environment, customer support agents are already using integrated knowledge management platforms that provide recommendations immediately after receiving a chat. Knowledge management tools in the future will be able to eliminate work for both knowledge managers, agents, and anyone who seeks answers.

Modern knowledge management will not only involve knowledge work, but learn from each customer interaction to provide better recommendations and identify knowledge gaps automatically.

Bring knowledge management to life in your organization

While knowledge management isn’t dead, traditional approaches to KM (including software) still aren’t improving handle times in the contact center or other knowledge-related challenges. With the rise of the internet and now the cloud, technology built to handle knowledge at a small volume won’t cut it in the years to come.

To bring knowledge management to life in your organization, you must be willing to explore new knowledge management trends and technology.

Many modern knowledge management tools still lack automation capabilities and not designed to use big data to aid in recommendations and decision making. Start by conducting a knowledge management assessment to identify barriers to your team’s success.

As you discover gaps in your current knowledge management process, you’ll know what to address internally with your current knowledge technology.

If you are considering switching from SharePoint or using internal knowledge bases, be sure you have a grasp on recent trends, challenges, and the most forward-looking knowledge vendors in the knowledge management market.

Knowledge management can be stressful and an unending list of tasks that humans won’t be able to process without modern technology…but it’s not too late to change your approach.

Read this Next

Knowledge Management for the Enterprise | 2022-2023 Report

Explore the latest trends, challenges, and vendor satisfaction ratings in this year’s KM report by DMG Consulting, LLC.

Knowledge Engineering Toolkit

A How-To Manual for Transforming KM in Age of AI