KM India … Day 2

Day 2 at KM India brought some rather interesting discussions … it began with Debra Amidon making a presentation about Knowledge Innovation Zones, and the implications for India. This made a very eloquent point about the way the knowledge economy is evolving, and the role specific knowledge zones can play in this. This almost flies in the face of current wisdom that geography is irrelevant. But then, one thinks … is it? If it is, how would one explain that Bangalore happens to be the hub of technology development in India. Or, Silicon Valley, for that matter … Not that i unerstand too much about this, focused as i am on how KM works within the organizational sphere, but nevertheless …

This was followed by a panel discussion about the Role of Technology in KM. The keynote address by Mr. A. Srinivasan from TCS, was a very interesting one … it began with Dr. Kavi Mahesh raising the point about it being fashionable to downplay technology, and focus on the people aspect of KM. While i do agree with his point, i think its more about re-emphasizing the importance of people in the entire KM scheme of things, given that KM practitioners have spent quite some time focusing on the technology aspects alone, with not much emphasis on the people aspects. But, he does have a point … and, this point was very well illustrated by Mr. Srinivasan, when he said that KM has been around for long … technology has changed the scope of the activities which can be done to facilitate KM on a much larger scale.

This is something i quite agree with … that Knowledge Management has been around ever since Knowledge has been around. Whether it was the passing down of traditions from generation to generation, or the writing down ot texts, both religious and secular, or whether you look at the idea of guilds, transforming into apprenticeships, into training, and KM as we know it today … and this is where the point Mr. Srinivasan made come in … that today, the way we can reach out to people, exchange thoughts and ideas, is very different, and much larger in terms of scale, and this is something which has been enabled by technology. Another aspect which came out quite well was the idea that KM technologies must integrate, over a period of time, with enterprise applications … something on the lines of what i have written about, from the perspective of CRM apps. What the panel also quite agreed about was the two aspects of the technology framework for KM, which they pointed out to be serendipity, and presentation. This looks similar to the idea that David Tai raised on day 1 … that people are interested in doing their work, and not necessarily KM. Taking this one step further, people’s contribution to KM could be seen as a by-product of their work, rather than being in addition to it. For example, take facebook … when you join a group, you dont go about telling your friends about it. They just get to see it without you having to do anything additional. Something on similar lines within the firewall …

Another interesting point that came up was about the contribution distribution. There seems to be a general picture that contribution to KM platforms comes from a minority of people, with the rest of the people being consumers. So, there are a set of people who actively contribute (say, 10%), another set of people who comment on these, or provide feedback (say, 20%), and the majority who simply read (say 70%) … of course, these figures are something i just made up.

Raj Datta came up with the idea that social networks, with their people to people interactions, could be used as a catalyst for generating contributions from larger proportion of people. This could be because this gives them a trusted channel for collaboration. To an extent i agree with this, but i think serendipity would also need to play an important role for this to happen.

There was an interesting question which was raised … that most companies seem to be using similar strategies for KM. Does this represent a convergence to a possibly right way of doing things, or does this mean that we have run out of ideas? To my mind, its the latter … the way i look at it, we have yet to come up with a best approach to much older questions (remember the core competence vis a vis diversification debate?), and hence, i wouldnt think we could have arrived to a best approach to such a new question. This also brings to mind the fact that most organizations are facing similar challenges in taking KM to the next level, but this is to be expected because the basic, underlying problem they are trying to solve remains the same, irrespective of organization.

On the topic of Innovation, Venky Rao, from Satyam, made an interesting observation … this is something i have been thinking for quite some time now, and it was nice to get validation … that real innovation happens where the rubber hits the road. That ideas are aplenty in organizations, only thing is, not many managers actually listen to those ideas. This could, in large part, be because most managers, with conventional experience are not comfortable with some of these ideas, because represent something which is different from conventional experience.

This, more or less, covers the two informative days at KM India … Day 3 was the master-classes, though i would think of them more as break-out sessions. More about them soon …


5 Comments on “KM India … Day 2”

  1. Rakesh Poddar says:

    Hey Atul,You have summarized the proceedings so well that it’s useful even for people like me who were there… I’m curious how you retained so much… were you taking detailed notes or recording the presentations? Many thanks!

  2. Anjali says:

    Hi Atul I was looking forward to this day 2 update.Refer: “began with Dr. Kavi Mahesh raising the point about it being fashionable to downplay technology, and focus on the people aspect of KM.”I am surprised at his comment becoz if KM is not people centric then what is it. People are capable of throwing technology out of the window at times!and the Day 3 please…Thanks!

  3. Atul says:

    Anjali, let me clarify why i agree with him … in a post? 🙂

  4. Atul says:

    Rakesh, notes during the presentation is what did it … and, being prompt in writing. i still need to sit and write about day 3, and given that more than a week has passed, i am going to find it difficult …

  5. Nimmy says:

    Finally…caught up with your Day 2 post as well. I sent out a tweet on your Day 1 post and someone from NZ got back and said it was great to know what happened at KM India via your blog! 🙂If there was something that really made you ponder or provoked interesting thoughts and ideas, do start off a debate/dialogue. Glad to be a part of the cacophony. 😉

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