I spent the last 10 days in Spain, and while I was there I realised how difficult it is to implement a global KM program trying to encourage knowledge sharing.
What I am referring to is the language barrier. I cannot speak Spanish, and I was thought that maybe the most important concept is to define the key elements of the KM strategy and allow others in your global offices around the world to access the content.
If the employees in the Spanish office complete a successful project, and subsequently wish to share their experiences with others within the organisation - will employees in the New York office be less likely to read this content if it is in Spanish?
Now I know that many organisations have invested in translation services (a friend of mine working for SAP has mentioned that they have a number of employees based in Galway, Ireland translating documents from English to German, Spanish and other Languages).
Would this investment be better spent on a KM program that enables content to be digested by all, providing a platform for publishing?
At the end of the day, making this information available to others in the organisation must be an improvement on the siloed operation of the past. Translation may be the next step.
For more on this concept, see the Globally Local - Locally Global blog, which is an excellent resource on global enterprise portals and intranets.