Knowledge Management – Where is the journey leading to?

We live in a time where change is the norm

Interview with Dr. Uwe Crenze and Eduard Daoud, the experts on knowledge management of interface:projects, in Germany’s knowledge management magazine “wissensmanagement”

Nothing remains as it is. This currently applies in particular to the handling of intangible assets and the realization of Knowledge Management projects. But how do companies approach this issue? Which aspects are decisive for success? It is above all the latest developments, especially digital transformation and the digital workplace, that accelerate change. What matters now and will matter in the future is something we discussed with the Knowledge Management experts Dr. Uwe Crenze and Eduard Daoud from the software company interface projects GmbH. As one of the leading German enterprise search providers they know the market and the needs of the users down to the smallest detail. They anticipate rapid developments as well as profound changes and require action from management.

One of Germany’s leading magazines on Knowledge Management issues, wissensmanagement (wm), conducted an interview with the management of interface projects GmbH, Dr. Uwe Crenze and Eduard Daoud, for the issue 08/2016. Read their thoughts on the status quo of knowledge management in organizations and key issues which need to be addressed for a successful approach to knowledge and information management in enterprises.

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wm: What is the importance of Knowledge Management for companies?

Dr. Uwe Crenze: The immense flood of data makes the daily working environment ever more complex. Companies and employees must constantly face new challenges and always acquire new knowledge in order to secure as much of a competitive advantage as possible. The subject of Knowledge Management has become a fundamental part of corporate strategy and the IT structure of the company. It is not without reason that Knowledge Management has been established in the new ISO 9001:2015.

The acquisition and distribution of knowledge is essential and decisive for every company and organization. In addition, Knowledge Management is gaining in importance as a strategic corporate application. We also notice this in our projects where the first conversation is often conducted with the management, demonstrating that Knowledge Management is a management issue.

wm: How far have we already come in organizational implementation?

Eduard Daoud: We have come a long way. From a technical point of view, we are in many cases further than the organizational process of our customers. The current development of Knowledge Management solutions focuses on the development of editorial software components. We believe that the spectrum should be much broader.

Through the use of our product, our customers are able to access existing knowledge quickly and from all locations. Information is found at the same time regardless of the source of information and format, taking account access rights. As a result, employees obtain information much more efficiently and valuable working time is saved. Even more: With our product, we provide employees with an ideal Knowledge Management tool. The Social Dashboard allows employees to bundle project or department-specific knowledge and share it with others.

wm: What are the specific challenges facing SMEs in particular?

Daoud: SMEs are the backbone of the German economy and are currently facing major challenges. On the one hand, it is strongly affected by demographic change. On the other hand, it is confronted with the steadily progressing digitization of business processes – from personnel management, merchandise management and production to customer support. Finding, using and sharing knowledge is not an easy task in the age of digital transformation and shortage of skilled labor. Often our customers say we have to do something. This word alone describes the situation. In a nutshell: Who will secure SME’s competitiveness?

[box title=””]Resources are finite on all levels, so the resources need to be used effectively.[/box]

wm: Where do you see the biggest stumbling blocks on the way to an Enterprise 2.0?

Crenze: To be honest, the term Enterprise 2.0 is a buzzword and is hardly used by any of our many customers when it comes to designing and modifying something. Here, we should differentiate more between companies and organizations that have already begun to change, and those who are still reacting instead of acting. Quite specifically, issues such as data protection and the creation of incentives for employees to get involved, are the biggest stumbling blocks on the way to “Enterprise 2.0” – or better: to intelligent business processes.

wm: How can the implementation of the digital workplace succeed?

Daoud: The digital workplace means the natural development of the traditional workplace, consisting of a technological work environment and offering new thinking structures for the employees. The digital workplace encompasses all technologies that provide the employee with a substantial and effective benefit for their work. These include networked and intelligent applications such as e-mail, instant messaging, virtual meeting tools, task and wiki tools, and a central search engine as a core element, as employees’ productivity increases when they are integrated into the company’s processes, this includes the effective finding of knowledge and information.

wm: What is the role of IT security?

Daoud: As soon as data from different structures, divisions and the entire information and application system is aggregated, evaluated and analyzed within a company, the enterprise search issue is no longer just an IT issue, but above all an IT security issue which affects the entire company and encompasses legal aspects. Many employees, and especially works councils, are concerned with an all-embracing (re-)finding and sharing of data across structural units. However, such concerns are unfounded in many cases. From a very different angle, many of our customers, especially knowledge-oriented organizations and data-driven businesses, see holistic Knowledge Management solutions as an opportunity to identify compliance and IT security gaps in the process and to take measures against them.

wm: Let’s take a look into the future. What does knowledge work look like in five years?

Daoud: The development of separate editorial software components, which record the explicit knowledge of the employees and secure it in data structures, will disappear more and more. The employee already focuses on the specialist applications that he already uses. In five years we will see many more solutions with the aspect of “single-point-of-access” for all information in the company.

wm: And in 20 years?

Crenze: Please ask us, what will not change in 20 years. This is the challenge! We live in a time where change is the norm. We will experience radical changes with regard to the issue of Knowledge Management and the rapid development of Deep Learning on the basis of neural networks. A fast, simple, comprehensive and intelligent system as an information Cockpit for employees is the future. Our research team is already working on such solutions.

wm: What needs to happen for this scenario to actually become reality? And what must not happen?

Crenze: The technological work environment and the thought mechanisms of the employees are changing rapidly. Employees should be given a certain period of time and the necessary support to adapt to this change and to internalize its impact. That is, companies need to focus internally on the topic of Knowledge Management. Infrastructurally and culturally, we must do our homework. What must not happen is that there is no frame and no strategy for Knowledge Management, because then there will be no success.

wm: How can you achieve successful Knowledge Management in your company?

Crenze: With us the intelligent search engine intergator forms the platform for the intranet and is the core component for the digital workplace. intergator is a  component of our Knowledge Management, as employees are effectively supported in the provision of information, which saves us a lot of time, avoids duplication and, of course, increases productivity. The topic must be organizationally permeated and anchored in the corporate culture.

wm: And what does your personal Knowledge Management look like?

Both: Searching, finding, deciding and enjoying sharing.

wm: Which advice can you give to those companies that are concerned with Knowledge Management and want to implement a solution?

Daoud: These companies should first become aware of the digital treasures that they already have in their company and then think about how to first develop them effectively in order to lay the foundation for the future with relatively little effort. At the same time, a sustainable strategy must be set up for this purpose, i.e. the driving factor must be the management.

wm: Can you name companies that act as pioneers in Knowledge Management?

Crenze: Unfortunately, we can not mention all of them here, but a few of are named bellow: The Reifenhäuser Group, Bitburger Braugruppe, TÜV SÜD AG and the Federal Ministry of the Interior have all put a highly innovative Knowledge Management solution into operation with a sustainable plan for the future.

wm: Dr. Crenze, Mr. Daoud, many thanks for the interview.