Tuesday 29 April 2008

My KM Dissertation Abstract

Having completed my KM masters dissertation, I thought it would be useful to share the abstract which sums up alot of the work I have been researching. The title of the dissertation was "Wiki based collaboration: An effective enabler of Knowledge Management?":

The World-Wide Web has evolved into a collaborative learning environment, where contribution and participation are replacing consumption and passive involvement. The shift which has taken place towards 'web 2.0' has been extraordinarily rapid, with the true potential of the web to connect people and their knowledge being seen. The use of web 2.0 tools as enabling technologies for knowledge management is becoming increasingly popular, with organisations replicating the success of these technologies on the consumer web behind their firewalls. The goal is to improve the knowledge sharing cultures internally and make better use of their organisational knowledge, so as to gain competitive advantage.

The full potential of the adoption of web 2.0 tools has yet to emerge, however early cases of successful implementation of social tools in support of organisational goals are positive. By closely aligning the aims of the knowledge management initiative with the goals and business objectives of the organisation, together with the early support of senior management, the potential success of the program is improved. An experiment to introduce web 2.0 technologies in a large financial services organisation has been undertaken to examine the challenges which arise and how the approach and language of the initiative helped to overcome potential misunderstanding and confusion about the terms web 2.0 and knowledge management. A pilot of an enterprise wiki platform was implemented, with full engagement of design and technical teams to position the technology as a potential collaboration standard. The focus was always about the capture and sharing of knowledge throughout, with many learning points for wiki champions and knowledge managers emerging.

Confusion around the true definition of knowledge management can be harmful to the potential success of initiatives if the wrong approach is taken. Focusing too much on technology can distract knowledge managers from the most important elements of implementing a successful knowledge management program; people, social networks and their knowledge. While technology will almost always be part of any knowledge management initiative, it is important to recognise that it is only an enabler of the cultural change with which knowledge management is associated. In order to facilitate effective collaboration between cross-functional and geographically dispersed teams, a new suite of enabling technologies is required, as the frequency with which these types of collaboration occur increases. Traditional tools such as email and file share have been overused and actually detract from effective collaboration amongst teams in projects which appear with increasing complexity.

This approach has shown that the terms knowledge management and web 2.0 are not crucial to the success of these programs. Aligning the goals of the project to the business objectives of the organisation allows senior management to better engage with the efforts involved in achieving those aims.

Please let me know if you have any comments or thoughts?

Monday 14 April 2008

Banking on Knowledge at MIT

MIT's Media Laboratory and Bank of America are teaming up to examine the future of online banking. The newly created Center for Future Banking will explore the impact of web computing and social networking on the way people manage their finances.

This is something which really interests me, as banks and financial services organisations are often conservative when it comes to innovative schemes like this one. It comes back to the question of whether or not you want your bank to be innovative and outlooking. You would probably want them to be more dependable and consistent.

However, as customer trends are showing, internet and convenience banking channels are becoming more popular. This is particularly evident amongst Gen x and y customers, who are being brought up on the web, and being digital natives, would prefer to transact online.

Some of the questions which the center will aim to address include:

How can every customer be empowered with the knowledge and tools to take better control of their financial futures?

This is where knowledge management on the inside can start to show on your customer-facing channels. I am a big fan of corporate blogging and podcasting, especially where the organisation is using web2.0 media to provide advice for customers. I have spoken before about the RaboDirect podcast series, which was a series of podcasts offering financial advice on a number of topics.

While this may not have brought in millions, it was the number #1 business podcast here in Ireland. It is time for others to follow suit, in a market which is still a niche, but one in which the early birds could benefit from.

How will banking interactions evolve as a customer’s physical and virtual worlds become completely intertwined?

This is an area in which environments like second life have begun to expose as a potential new market. I have experienced live IM sessions with Dell support staff recently, and found them to be much more informative and engaging than waiting on the end of the line listening to Whitney Houston for 20 minutes!

Organisations such as RBC are leading the field here, with virtual agents, a presence on facebook, and an excellent site, called RBC p2p on which 6 students blog to their peers about their financial experiences. This is where organisations need to be, in the same network as their customers. This has moved from the street to the participative web online.

Some organisations have already shown that building a community of customers enables you to provide an improved knowledge providing relationship while being able to gather valuable feedback at the same time - thus they become prosumers as defined by Don Tapscott in Wikinomics. A great example of this is the Sony Vaio user community.

How will social networks and mobile platforms transform customers’ banking experiences, making it easier, more convenient, and better integrated with their daily lives?

This is the golden question! We have seen how internet banking has transformed customer interactions since the late 90's, with a high percentage of customers now managing their finances through their banks online portal.

The demands will grow for more functions and increased engagement over new channels such as mobile internet banking and increased information sharing between banks and their customers.

This partnership will be interesting, as more and more organisations enter this unknown market.