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  • Writer's pictureAzhar Kassim Mustapha

Evolution of Knowledge Management

Knowledge Management from documents to systems

The evolution of Knowledge Management (KM) as a discipline and practice has seen significant developments over the years, reflecting changes in technology, business needs, and organizational culture. Here's an overview of the evolution of Knowledge Management:

  1. Early Knowledge Management (Pre-1990s):

  • Knowledge management as a formalized discipline did not exist in its current form.

  • Knowledge sharing primarily occurred through informal means, such as face-to-face communication and mentorship.

  • Knowledge was often embedded in organizational culture and individual expertise.

  1. Emergence of Knowledge Management (1990s):

  • The term "knowledge management" gained prominence in the 1990s.

  • Organizations recognized the need to better manage and leverage their intellectual assets, including tacit knowledge.

  • Early KM initiatives focused on creating repositories for documents and codifying explicit knowledge.

  1. The Role of Technology (Late 1990s-2000s):

  • Advancements in information technology, especially the internet, intranets, and databases, played a pivotal role in KM.

  • Knowledge Management Systems (KMS) and Intranets became common tools for organizing and sharing knowledge.

  • Taxonomies and categorization schemes were developed to structure knowledge.

  1. Communities of Practice (2000s):

  • The concept of communities of practice gained traction as a way to facilitate knowledge sharing and learning.

  • These communities encouraged members with similar interests or expertise to collaborate and share knowledge.

  1. Explicit and Tacit Knowledge (2000s):

  • KM started recognizing the importance of both explicit (codified) and tacit (personal) knowledge.

  • Strategies for capturing, sharing, and transferring tacit knowledge became a focus.

  1. Social Media and Collaboration (2010s):

  • The rise of social media, enterprise social networks, and collaboration tools significantly impacted KM.

  • Organizations leveraged these platforms to encourage knowledge sharing, discussions, and collaboration.

  1. Knowledge Capture and Transfer (2010s):

  • KM efforts increasingly focused on capturing and transferring knowledge from retiring employees to newer generations.

  • Techniques like mentorship programs, knowledge transfer workshops, and storytelling were employed.

  1. AI and Machine Learning (2010s-Present):

  • KM embraced AI and machine learning technologies for advanced search, recommendation systems, and content tagging.

  • Chatbots and virtual assistants were used to facilitate knowledge retrieval and onboarding.

  1. Globalization and Remote Work (Present):

  • Globalization and remote work trends highlighted the importance of accessible and remote-friendly KM systems.

  • Cloud-based KM solutions and remote collaboration tools became more prevalent.

  1. Knowledge Culture (Present):

  • Organizations increasingly focused on creating knowledge-sharing cultures that value and incentivize knowledge sharing.

  • Leadership plays a critical role in fostering such cultures.

  1. Knowledge Ethics and Security (Present):

  • The ethical and security aspects of KM have gained attention, particularly regarding the protection of sensitive knowledge assets.

  1. Emerging Technologies (Future):

  • KM is expected to continue evolving with emerging technologies like augmented reality, blockchain, and advanced analytics, which could further enhance knowledge discovery and utilization.

The evolution of Knowledge Management reflects the ongoing recognition of knowledge as a critical asset for organizations and the continuous efforts to better capture, share, and leverage that knowledge to achieve strategic goals and competitive advantage.

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