Last month I attended the KMWorld conference in Washington, D.C., and was immersed in all sorts of great topics. The conference featured many different tracks which led to some dynamic discussions. Of course, many topics focused on knowledge management and the tools of the trade. These were fascinating, and presented great use cases of knowledge management. One in particular described how the military improved its ability to move supplies to locations where disasters had occurred, such as Haiti in 2015. Seeing the use of knowledge management to create a “Culture of Collaboration” between people, processes, and technology and how it helped better organize these endeavors really showed how KM can change the world for the better.
Here are some of the other topics that really struck a note with me and have inspired me to learn more:
Change Management and the Digital Workspace
This was my favorite topic of the week. We lead projects that create major change (for the good!) in company’s processes and that can be troublesome if change management isn’t established as a priority. According to Gloria Burke, Senior Manager of Knowledge Services-Global Risk Advisory, at Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, 50% of projects fail because change management isn’t at the forefront. I heard several key points that resonated. First and foremost, put a change management team in place. Then, keep up the communication throughout the project. Get them involved! This one is MAJOR!
When discussing the importance of change management, the panel used the introduction of a digital workspace as an example. I didn’t have a real understanding of what a digital workspace was until I listened to Jeff Willinger, Director of Collaboration and Digital Workspaces at Rightpoint in the Change Management Tips track session. It was a great added bonus to learn more about Digital Workspace. He was a very dynamic speaker, has an awesome set of glasses, and provided some great tips for a successful digital workspace that go hand in hand with change management. He focused on 6 tips which are important to both change management and digital workspace:
Must have executive buy in
Use rich media
Personalize the content (using active directory)
Establish a community manager
Have a catchy name for your digital workplace
Tune in to “what’s in it for me.”
If you want to foster communication wit in your team, executive buy-in and participation are essential. When the higher ups are involved, their interest will trickle down the organizational tree and capture people’s attention. This process provides a way for the workplace community to interact with upper management in new ways, especially if they are intimidated by interacting in person. It allows the executives to show a more personal face to the employees.
The use of rich media focuses in on having an avatar picture and providing content such as videos. Another example provided was having a badge system. The more you participate, the more points are accumulated and can be used to earn a badge next to your avatar. This is one fun way to get people involved and to socialize the project, which is an aspect usually not thought of when an organization is implementing major change. A community manager will take charge of socializing the project and moderate the site. Lastly, and in my opinion, most importantly, making sure people know why they are using the new program will help ensure success of the project.
Make it clear what the digital workspace (or any project goal) is. It’s a digital area where employees can discuss projects, ask questions, view selected KPIs, encourage each other and learn about each other’s work. This can harvest internal communication and growth for employees. Make sure the employee/user/customer understands what is in it for them--how they will benefit from this project. Get them involved from the beginning with interviews/go sees/one-on-ones to ensure you are capturing their needs and seeing firsthand how the project affects them. Not only will this inclusion increase employee buy-in and cooperation, it will provide much needed insight on how to make the project work.
Cognitive Computing and Semantic Search
Several great sessions were offered on cognitive computing and semantic search. One of them featured a panel discussion with our own Dino Eliopulos and other experts in the field including Hadley Reynolds, who heads the Cognitive Computing Consortium; Saratendu Sethi with the SAS Institute and John D. Griffith of MITRE. They discussed the speed with which this technology has been growing, and how big data and computing power have recently combined to do amazing things, especially when teamed up with machine learning and conversational systems that allow easy interaction.
They also discussed the knowledge management that is integral to the success of these systems and how the technology and data management behind it are going to continue to accelerate into increasingly amazing endeavors in the years ahead. For people new to the field, a great way to start is with small-scale personal tools like Alexa or getting involved in discussions such as are available thru the Cognitive Computing Consortium or the Knowledge Salons at Earley.
Another workshop I found fascinating in this field was the Context Navigation and Semantics discussion lead by Reed Barrett, Director of Business Development for Expert System and Bob DuCharme, Technical Writer for Commonwealth Computer Research, Inc. We delved into the linguistics that goes into semantic search. For example, how do you teach a computer the difference between “I have 40 apples in stock to share” and “I have 40 shares of Apple stock”. How does it know the difference between the nouns: dog, dog catcher and doggy bag.
We were introduced to a great tool at www.intelligenceAPI.com, which allows users to play with a linguistic tool within semantic search when they check out the free demo. I highly recommend giving it a whirl. We also discussed machine learning semantics and how algorithms do a better job as they are provided with more data. We learned about distributional semantics and how the program learns about words based on their distribution and relationships. This workshop really has me interested in delving deeper into the understanding of language and how we teach computers to understand the intricacies of the human language and how to pass the Turing test.
KM World brought a lot of interesting topics and experiences to my door. The topics mentioned were just the tip of the iceberg. There were 3 tracks focused on knowledge management, and an extra set on Taxonomy Bootcamp, Enterprise Search and SharePoint. There were many discussions, tracks and workshops that I did not get the chance to see and hope to see them next year. I very much enjoyed my time and look forward to participating again.
A Few Words about Washington, D.C.
This was the first time I had been to D.C. I arrived a few hours early so I took the opportunity to walk about the town and see some of the sites. My geek side got to come out when I went to the International Spy Museum. I took on a mock identity and memorize key facts about my “cover,” and was randomly tested at stations throughout the museum to make sure I was a good spy. I got to see amazing trinkets like a cigarette case with a camera hidden inside and a purse with a hidden compartment at the bottom for smuggling documents. There was an exhibit on past spies, including Walsingham, the great Elizabethan spy, and an exhibit on the Bond villains. One night after the conference, I checked out the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at night. The sight of these historic landmarks was very moving and beautiful. If you have not gone to our nation’s capital, I would highly recommend it.