Retooling Knowledge Management for the Digital Age

Modern knowledge management (KM) hinges on a company’s ability to leverage tools that speak to the digital age. One of the most important threads in this new-age tapestry is video.

In recent years, a study from the University of Southern California found that people are able to store at least 295 exabytes of information—a number with 20 zeroes in it. This abundance of data is especially important in the workplace, where the majority of a company’s intellectual capital lies in its people and their experiences. Because of this, organizations have focused on honing the ways in which they manage the capture and sharing of information. This may have something to do with Benjamin Franklin’s early suggestion that “an investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.”

However, despite the formalization of the knowledge management (KM) discipline in the 1990s, modern KM hinges on a company’s ability to leverage tools that speak to the digital age. One of the most important threads in this new-age tapestry? Video.

Employees expect to receive training and learning in media they are accustomed to. Even more, they require the ability to learn and train whenever and wherever it’s convenient. According to Ericsson’s latest Mobility Report, in 2015 there were 2.6 billion smartphones globally. In addition, eMarketer reported that in the same year, U.S. adults spent an average of five hours, 31 minutes each day watching video.  Therefore, given the time spent on mobile devices, video is a natural platform for knowledge management.

Regardless of the KM strategy—from communities of practice to data exchanges to apprenticeship—video benefits both employees and employers in the preservation of knowledge. It lends itself to the few things that successful knowledge management is about:

  • Providing concise, relevant information
  • Creating an ecosystem that keeps information up to date
  • Addressing the barriers to sharing and applying teachings

While some employees don’t have the motivation to invest the time and effort to capture information, most employees will if the knowledge is applicable to them. Forrester Research’s Dr. James McQuivey found that “a minute of video is worth 1.8 million words,” or about 3,600 standard Web pages. Video helps record knowledge better than text because it’s able to convey a lot of information in a short amount of time. Additionally, it captures things you can’t record on paper. For example, if you’re the keeper of a unique process internally, you can record the intricacies of each step in a hands-on demonstration versus spending hours of time developing long, text-based documents.

Knowledge Repository

One of the most well-known KM instruments is the knowledge repository, or a system that enables data to quickly be searched and retrieved. These are especially helpful for today’s global workforce, whereby employees across geographies require real-time information to make business decisions. However, it’s important that the content within these databases be frequently updated so learners can spend less time digging for information and more time on the job at hand. With video, you can trim content, splice multiple recordings together, and add new attachments, among other capabilities. In this regard, content can be modified instead of recreating the wheel each and every time.

Boosting Engagement

The codification of knowledge makes information accessible to organizations, but businesses will only see progress against their goals if it’s clear how to put it to use. According to O.C. Tanner’s Great Work Study, 72 percent of work ideas succeed because employees were able to incorporate diverse knowledge and viewpoints into their solutions. Breaking down the barriers of knowledge sharing starts by establishing a workplace where people are inspired to engage and be engaged. Video helps boost engagement and generate discussion with the incorporation of interactive features such as quizzing or polling. Quizzing encourages opinion and reaction, fostering an environment that feels collaborative so employees can comfortably learn and grow.

At the end of the day, information is a part of every company’s ethos. While knowledge management may take on new names—and technology like video may be called on to keep up with a new generation—what it encompasses will always be the same: the capturing and sharing of, and collaboration around, information. Whether your platform for managing and organizing knowledge is a learning management system (LMS) or not, embrace what’s at your disposal. Move beyond the tool and put the needs of your employees and organization first. As the Latin aphorism claims, knowledge is power—and it also may be the key to your bottom line.

Matt Pierce is customer support manager at TechSmith Corp., a software company that provides practical business and academic solutions that can dramatically change how people communicate and collaborate. A graduate of Indiana University’s School of Education’s Department of Instructional Systems Technology, Pierce has 10 years of experience working in learning and development with a focus on visual instruction. He has directly managed the training and user assistance teams for TechSmith, and also has run its visual communication Web show, The Forge, interviewing guests from around the world discussing the use of visuals, video, and technology in education, training, marketing, and more. Teach him something @piercemr.