Knowledge management (KM) platforms need to embrace employees' use of mobile devices and give employees several ways to find the information they want and to share it with each other, some KM experts recommend.

New KM systems embrace employee access through smartphones and tablets, and they allow employees to share data and access information and training through a variety of methods, including e-learning and connecting with internal experts, KM experts said this week at the KMWorld conference in Washington, D.C.

Access Anytime, Anywhere 

Employees "want to access their information anywhere, anytime," said Dianne Berry, senior vice president of market strategy at enterprise search vendor Coveo. "The difficult thing about that is, it's not just their information. It’s information about your company and information outside your company."

KM can be a balancing act between capturing institutional knowledge and sharing the right information with the right employees at the right time, Berry said.  Companies want "sales insight, marketing insight, services insight, product insight, risk insight," she said. "It's all important."

But relevance is also important, she said. Employees don't need a fire hose of information, but they need to find specific information to help with specific needs.

Companies want to capture internal knowledge, but "what's important is relevance," she said. "Relevance is the new currency in business today."

In a digital workplace, "we need to connect everybody with everything, but only as it's relevant to their context," she added.

Employees Need Options 

Companies setting up KM platforms should give employees plenty of options, said Kathy Bries, senior director of learning at Cisco Systems. Cisco's internal knowledge sharing and training platform, which the company rolled out as an external product earlier this year, embraces mobile access and features traditional instructor-led classes, on-demand e-learning, and personalized training.

The platform also focuses on identifying internal experts and connecting their expertise with other employees, she said.  When retraining employees, "you need to be able to spot who are the big influencers out there," Bries added.

Cisco's knowledge sharing and learning platform also includes a social media element, she said. "It's almost like a virtual water cooler," she added.

Integrating the Front Line 

For many companies, a big problem is capturing knowledge from front-line employees who interact with customers, said Phil Verghis, CEO and co-founder of Klever, a company providing knowledge management and knowledge sharing tools, training and coaching.

Verghis used tech support as an example. The overworked, often-yelled-at tech support employees often know best about customer attitudes, but at many companies, tech support knowledge isn’t shared as widely as it should be, he said.

And in cases where products like software are changing frequently, companies need to do better at capturing tech support knowledge in real time and allowing employees to add to that knowledge, he said.

A central question in KM is what employees can do to make the information better, he said. "Every time somebody sees a piece of information, how do they make it better for the next person?" he said. "It's not just about finding a document, it's what you do with it."

Title image by Redd Angelo