10 Trends to Watch in Knowledge Management

–By Debra Prentice, Market Development Director
“The mission of an effective KM (knowledge management) capability is to enable its people to make better decisions, take action, and deliver results in support of the business’ strategy.” Bob Armacost, Director at Iknow LLC.


“No matter how KM is defined and structured in an organization, it needs to be the “glue” that represents the business in pulling together data, information, and people” (Koenig, 2018).

With multiple apps and documents running in the cloud and locally, each collecting enormous amounts of data, information is spread across multiple and varying platforms; effective KM strategies are essential to harnessing all that information to make data-driven decisions. Currently, an average knowledge organization employing “1,000 knowledge workers wastes over $5.7 million annually searching for but not finding information”; and “36% of a typical knowledge worker’s day is spent looking for and consolidation information spread across a variety of systems – with those workers only finding information required to do their jobs only 56% of the time” (Lin, 2018).

With digital transformation and more data created with better apps, tools, and AI (artificial intelligence); new KM trends are emerging to consolidate fragmented information. The following are 10 trends to look for in KM:



# 1:  Content Management

Content management: Content management is about collecting information and connecting that information to people. IBM uses the following graphic for their own KM consultants:

Content management includes structured information such as Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Customer Relationship Manager (CRM), or Human Resources Management (HRM) applications (Prescient, 2018). Content management also includes unstructured information such as documents, audio files, videos, and other assets (Prescient, 2018). Prior to the internet, content management was somewhat linear: most companies had a document control strategy. Since the internet (and the resulting fragmentation of information across platforms), content management has and will be a continuing trend in the future.

According to elink.io:40% of employees are poor at transferring knowledge and employees spend 7-20% of their time replicating existing solutions by others” (elink.io, 2018). Emerging technologies are allowing for more collaboration and smarter work-spaces. With software such as BiT (a content library that automatically saves files and images) and Tettra (designed by Slack that stores all information real-time in one spot), employees will work more efficiently by having all their information in one central library, no matter which application they used to obtain the information.


# 2:  Working Out Loud

Perhaps one of the more interesting KM trends is WOL). WOL is a growing movement in which employees narrate and broadcast their work so others can learn or collaborate on that work (Tress, 2018). WOL is an employee-led cultural shift with the purpose being agile (and competitive) during the digital transformation. While companies are spending money on tools for digital transformation, these tools are useless without a cultural shift of the employees. WOL allows for sharing information real-time and allows for collaboration – which will reduce work duplication and increase better outcomes through this collaboration.  

According to Konica Minolta, the purpose of WOL is about “everyone wanting to learn, everyone being able to contribute something, and coming up with ideas together” (Konica Minolta, 2018).


revised elements by @johnstepper, image by @allthingsIC


# 3: Business Intelligence (BI)

Business Intelligence (BI): “PwC estimates artificial intelligence (AI) will contribute up to $15.7 trillion to the local economy by 2030 (Semyonj, 2018). Machine learning, cognitive computing, and edge computing are what makes artificial intelligence possible; and AI is what enables us to make use of enormous amounts of data. In the coming years, KM is not going to be possible without managing and making effective decisions based on the business intelligence of useful data. Companies that embrace business intelligence technologies for their knowledge management strategies will not only become more efficient but will see a huge return on investment (in terms of both money and time) of those technologies.


53% of Companies are Adopting Big-Data Analytics

Currently, the insurance, technology, and business services (retail & wholesale) industries have the highest rate of adopting BI strategies (Columbus, 2018).




#4: Digital Workplace

Similar to Internet of Things (IoT), the digital workplace is all about connecting people on their preferred platform and in their preferred environment. Although the digital workplace is still evolving, a digital workplace should seamlessly integrate virtual, physical, and connected environments via mobile technologies. Chris Tubb, Digital Workplace Strategist defines the digital workplace as the, “collection of all the digital tools provided by an organization to allow its employees to do their jobs.” The digital workplace brings many aspects of knowledge management together. By connecting people, tools (such as WOL), and content via a digital workplace, KM is not just limited to the intranet was it was just a few short years ago.


#5:  Lessons Learned

The future trends of lessons learned is heavily dependent on a culture of learning. Like WOL, lessons learned strategies are only effective in a culture that desires to learn and to quickly changed strategies based on those lessons.  Not only does this prevent recurring mistakes, but an effective lesson learned knowledge management strategy will ensure that project knowledge is retained. In other words, lessons learned should be a strong part of content management, or 7-20% of the work-forces’ time is spent recreating solutions created by others. Lessons learned in KM is not a new concept; however, the tools and platforms delivering lessons learned are going to be more connected as part of the content management strategy.


#6:  Virtual Assistants

Remember Clippy?  Virtual assistants have been around since the turn of the century.  Although irritating, Clippy was fundamentally a virtual assistant with very limited capabilities. (By the way, Clippy lives on in Twitter, and it is possible to resurrect Clippy to embed in your website with a downloadable java script by smorehttps://www.smore.com/clippy-js).

Today’s virtual assistants can perform more basic skills to include retrieving data and rudimentary computations (Logic 20/20, 2018). The virtual assistants of today only work well within their own platforms, but virtual assistants of the future will be able to integrate between home, work, or IoT devices. Some examples of how virtual assistants can impact KM is dictating or translating meetings, voice-control of tools or machines, and having a virtual personal assistant to handle administrative tasks (Logic 20/20, 2018).


#7:  Validating Information Security

Information security is at the fore front of any digital transformation or KM strategy, and the KM trends for content management, voice control features, digital workplace, or virtual assistants is simply not possible for companies without a robust information security plan.  By ingraining security in the knowledge management strategies (and integrating that with external knowledge), gaining earlier knowledge of cyber-security threats is possible (Lamont, 2018).


#8:  Self-reviewing and More Accurate Health Care

Updated KM in the healthcare industry can mean huge savings and increased efficiencies while delivering better patient outcomes. This has garnered the attention of investors who are either purchasing or funding young startups with a focus on utilizing machine learning (ML) in the healthcare space.  In terms of KM, improved tools to not only manage data from EHRs (electronic health records), but knowledge management tools to collect information from multiple health care sources (to include apps and HIoT devices) will have a huge impact on the quality of health outcomes while reducing expenses. The current challenge is exchanging information on multiple silo’d platforms in a secure way; however, the implications of having self-reviewing analytics in either diagnosis or prescription services are tremendous (Lamont, 2018).

By far, the largest challenge with implementing new KM strategies (and sharing of data) is patient privacy, adherence to privacy laws, and the security of the EHRs, other records, and data they generate. Some are looking to blockchain to provide better security for records.


Blog: Blockchain in healthcare has the potential to save billions of dollars in the U.S.





#9: Mind Mapping



With 80-90% of information the brain receives coming from the eyes and 65% of the population are visual learners, it is no wonder that mind mapping is an effective knowledge management tool. With better UX (user interface), more interoperability between platforms, and more choices in software that can also handle content management- mind mapping will be a more widely used trend for knowledge management. 



#10:  Management of Employees and Talent

Douglas Weidner, CEO of the KM Institute states, “KM isn’t just about knowledge-sharing systems—a present emphasis, but ultimately KM will be about how to transform all employees into personal knowledge managers.” Weidner further states, “Knowledge management is the transformative catalyst that will get us into the knowledge age. Everyone from the CEO to the lowest level employee has to be aligned with that for it to work”. The importance of knowledge management integrated into the company culture and creating a culture of learning and collaborating will ensure that companies will thrive in the digital transformation.

38% of CEO’s report that “they are extremely concerned about the availability of key skills”, and 84% of HR leaders report that they are “struggling to recruit the right talent, with 70% having issues keeping their top performers” (Fuhl, 2018). Increasingly, HR leaders and CEO’s turn to professional staffing and recruitment companies to augment their teams with key players who can assist with digital transformation or has the right skill-sets to champion the company culture of learning and knowledge management.  According to Human Resources Today (2018), “using a specialized staffing agency generates better candidates and placements for your team”.



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Arrow Solutions Group is an Engineering & IT Staffing company, specializing in providing talent for staff augmentation, contract-to-hire, direct placement, or IT Executive Searches.


Final Thoughts:

The trends in knowledge management are not only providing a more meaningful work space for employees to be engaged and enjoy their work; but these trends are enabling companies to be more efficient, more secure, and more agile.



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Elink.io (August 30, 2018). Top 5 most reliable knowledge management tools of 2018. elink.io. retrieved https://blog.elink.io/knowledge-management-tools/.

Human Resources Today (2018). 6 benefits of using a staffing agency. Human Resources Today. Retrieved https://www.humanresourcestoday.com/?query=hiring%20a%20staffing%20agency&open-article-id=8542398&article-title=6-benefits-of-using-a-staffing-agency&blog-domain=celarity.com&blog-title=celarity.

iMindQ (2018). 10 Real life uses of mind maps. iMindQ. Retrieved https://www.imindq.com/blog/10-real-life-uses-of-mind-maps.

Koenig, M. (January 15, 2018). What is KM? Knowledge management explained. KMWorld. Retrieved http://www.kmworld.com/Articles/Editorial/What-Is/What-is-KM-Knowledge-Management-Explained-122649.aspx.

Lamont, J. (January 22, 2018). KM: looking to the future. KMWorld. Retrieved http://www.kmworld.com/Articles/Editorial/Features/KM-looking-to-the-future-122619.aspx.

Lin, J. (May 21, 2018). Future of Work #4 – enterprise knowledge management 2.0 + AI-powered search & discover = team intelligence.  Medium. Retrievedhttps://medium.com/work-bench/future-of-work-4-enterprise-knowledge-management-2-0-61ca08fd2a5d.

Prescient (2018). Content management in a knowledge management context. Prescient Digital Media. Retrieved http://www.prescientdigital.com/articles/content-management/content-management-in-a-knowledge-management-context.

Semyon, S. (March 7, 2018). Intelligent capture drives AI ROI. KMWorld. Retrieved http://www.kmworld.com

Trees, L. (March 08, 2018). Knowledge management experts on KM’s role in digital transformation. APQC Blog. Retrieved https://www.humanresourcestoday.com

Cover Image by Stephan Krause: https://krausestefan.smugmug.com/, image obtained via open source: Wikimedia Commons