Knowledge Management: The Year in Review
by Madanmohan Rao
Editor, The KM Chronicles
Bangalore; January 22, 2014
With the year 2014 kicking off, a panel of four KM practitioners discussed their KM achievements in the year 2013, what worked well, what were the challenges faced, and what are some targets and initiatives for 2014. The broader themes were KM planning approaches, duration of plan cycles, assessment and recalibration, and alignment with new business goals. The panelists and participants provided real-life examples with tips and recommendations for KM practitioners.
LNV Samy, VP, Global Technology and Delivery Centre (India, China and Australia), Technology Consulting and Integration Solutions, Unisys
LNV Samy manages the development of new services, the creation of packaged services for sales and delivery, technology research, development and support of products and solutions in India, China and Australia. He has more than 30 years of experience in the IT industry with BAE Systems (Australia), Fujitsu Australia, and ABB India. Samy is a member of IEEE and Australian Computer Society. He was a member of the Industry Advisory Committee – Macquarie University, and ICT R&D Roundtable – Austrade, Australia. He has served on the panel of judges for the Australian Business Excellence Awards and program committees of technology conferences including IEEE and SEPG. Samy holds a BE (Honors) from the University of Madras, India, M.Tech. in Software Engineering from Macquarie University, and MBA from Macquarie Graduate School of Management, Australia.
Nirmala Palaniappan, Senior Manager – Social Enterprise, Oracle
Nirmala heads the knowledge management function for Oracle’s APAC Business Units (focused on tech but also catering to other lines) and has been with Oracle for six years now. As a KMer, she has had the opportunity to work on a diverse set of projects and programs such as Intranet development, content management platforms, expertise locators, enablement of communities, social tech (blogs, microblogs, social networking), internal mobile apps, process improvements and cultural change. She has presented various conceptual papers and case studies at international conferences on some of these topics. The pillars of the current KM strategy at Oracle are customised solutions, holistic solutions, cultural shift and sustainability. Nirmala enjoys the experience of coming up with unconventional ideas, pursuing them until they take on a concrete form and start proving their potential.
Ved Prakash, Global KM Practice Head – Application Management, CGI
Ved Prakash currently heads Knowledge Management in CGI, a Canada-based global IT services and consulting organisation with 70,000 members. Ved has set up KM vision and strategy for CGI and has rolled out various initiatives to implement the strategy. Ved previously was the Chief Knowledge Officer of Wipro, recognised globally with MAKE (Most Admired Knowledge Enterprise) Awards consistently over the years. Ved was in Wipro for twenty years where he also played the roles of Delivery Head for Healthcare & Life Sciences business, and Practice Head for Energy & Utilities sector. Ved has conducted KM strategy and visioning workshops for CXOs across the globe. He has been an invited speaker on KM in many national and international forums. He has been a member of CII National Mission on Knowledge and a member of Bureau of Indian Standards national committee on framing KM standards for Indian organisations. Ved holds an MBA from IIM Bangalore, and a B.Tech in Computer Engineering from Pantnagar University where he was a Gold Medalist.
Raju Ramakrishna, Group KM Manager, Wipro
Raju currently heads the KM ‘Business Value-add’ team in Wipro which focuses on delivering business value to its various business units covering around 90,000 employees. He has been a part of the KM team in Wipro for the past 10 years starting from KM for the Energy & Utilities business unit and now manages a team of 11 people who deploy various KM initiatives across Wipro Technologies. Raju has driven KM initiatives with an eye on improving engagement and effectiveness. He has conceptualised and implemented various KM initiatives within Wipro like Talking Heads, Code Cracker contest, and KM Points system, which amongst others generated increased visibility amongst top management, and increased engagement and effectiveness amongst the workforce. Raju believes KM should showcase quantified business value to the organization and works on programs with that as a goal.
Dr. Madanmohan Rao is a KM author and consultant based in Bangalore. He is the editor of The KM Chronicles and four other book series. He is co-founder of the Bangalore K-Community, and can be followed on Twitter at @MadanRao
KM has benefitted the innovation drive at Unisys: the number of patents filed has increased 50% year-on-year, and patent evangelists have been trained in project teams. Savings have been realised in cross-training activities. Within two years, software re-use has saved 10,000 man hours, or about $125,000. This has been achieved through software libraries, training and reuse evangelists. The Unilight Festival for knowledge sharing has participation from 75% of the employees, and the festival is well branded as well (there are even T-shirts for the festival).
Plans for 2014 include refining the value ladder in its KM maturity framework, and extending KM capabilities to more internal and external stakeholders. Unisys achieved its goal of reaching the MAKE Level 5 and sustaining the KM excellence, and sees its social media capability as a separate business opportunity. Its social media maturity model has been covered in an Ark Group report (http://amzn.to/NpHAoE), and Unisys was identified as one of the “Five companies rocking social media” (http://socialtimes.com/5-companies-that-are-rocking-social-media-infographic_b85710).
The KM drive at Oracle is targeted in the areas of strategy (project sustainability), business (customised solutions), effectiveness (holistic practices), and impact (cultural shifts). There are emerging opportunities in apps for expert locators, blending social and visual displays, and Webcasts for training and knowledge sharing.
The merger of CGI with Logica to create the world’s fifth largest IT/BPS firm has led to a blending of cultures oriented towards large as well as small projects, and North American as well as European workforces. Knowledge retention and knowledge acquisition are key KM focus areas, especially via bridging silos and harnessing the power of many. The global EVP for performance and KM drives the knowledge initiatives. The KM Council includes the CEO, HR head and group heads, and has monthly meetings. Community leaders and Knowledge Primes drive the KM agenda in vertical and horizontal roles.
The knowledge discovery tools provide ratings of project performance, and the KM framework (with the acronym ACTIONED) is now going into high gear after the ‘acquisition noise’ has died down.
Wipro completed a re-calibration exercise for its KM initiative in 2013. The KM practice first started way back in 1999, and KM was created for every account in 2007-2012. Workshops on next-generation KM were held in 2013 on topics such as taxonomy, KM architecture and knowledge quality. Three new groups have been formed to expand on notions of KM for customers, next-gen KM, and internal KM. Increased business value has been captured via KMPACT. Wipro’s KM maturity framework includes five phases: initiate, design&deploy, measure&broadbase, sustain and create business value.
Customised KM plans have been drawn up for the ‘focus accounts’ with most value. Thanks to KM, collaboration between subject matter experts has increased, and error resolution time decreased by 20% in Severity 3 Tickets (accounting for 70% of the total volume). Project management surveys henceforth will always have questions on KM. For the coming year, KM will contribute to the understanding of emerging business models; its business value will continue to be showcased, and new kinds of mobile apps will be harnessed.
The ensuing discussion included inputs from visiting professor Pratyush Bharathi from the University of Massachusetts, and KM practitioners from Societe Generale, Tech Mahindra, and Mindtree. The panellists and practitioners made a number of recommendations for KM planners:
1. Focus not just on quantitative metrics but on the quality of knowledge. Go beyond just activity metrics on portals to actual knowledge processes and workflow.
2. Involve a broad range of stakeholders and show how KM meets current and upcoming needs. Address the needs of a broader range of employees and not just managers.
3. Use social media to speed up access to knowledge and to experts. Social media helps create an endless supply of reusable knowledge along with validation mechanisms, and creates new kinds of social networks and social capital.
4. Use social media internally as well as externally. Social media helps explore inter-organisational ties. Earlier tools did not help harness external social capital effectively.
5. But do not get hung up on technology and tools; 80% of KM work will be in issues of culture and process, and only 20% will be in technology.
6. Pay attention to platform design – thanks to the consumer Internet, expectations of employee Intranet design have also increased, and tools must be attractive and easy to use.
7. Identify the ‘hot spots’ where KM need is easily perceived (eg. RFPs).
8. Focus on errors and mistakes and not just best practices, eg. in retro meetings when deals are lost.
9. Align KM with organisational goals of revenues, profits, employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction.
10. Bring in the voice of the customer, eg. Webcasts by customers addressing their core issues and challenges.
11. Address the needs of individual knowledge workers; ‘personal KM’ is a core issue in an age of information overload and ubiquitous connectivity.
12. Describe the KM message with a few core areas rather than a very broad message which will be distracting or difficult to understand.
In February, the annual KM India conference will be held in Bangalore (http://bit.ly/1aBJXkI), and K-Community members are encouraged to attend (some member companies are already sponsors of the event). In March, the K-Community will help with IIM-Bangalore’s event on Social Media, Knowledge Management and Innovation; details to follow! Please sign on to CII’s KCommunity site (http://kcommunity.ning.com) for more information on KCommunity activities across India.