Social Media Plus Knowledge Management:Bringing Collaborative Change

Published by MBA Skool Team, Published on December 13, 2011

The real context of an interaction is found in the general interactive relationship between those communicating and the environment around them. Fundamentally, dynamic communication is truly communication bound, and is influenced by current realities, and by events that brought the communicating parties to the current state of interaction.

Social Media plus knowledge management

In the above context even a cursory surface look will cement the general belief that Social Media and Knowledge Management (KM) are very similar. Both these are evolved over the common collaboration model, and profess interaction of people and also communication. However this fast paced business world does not just require cursory glances. In fact reading in between the lines is more important.

The one big difference that is also thoroughly debated today is that KM relates to what the companies want people to know, while social media relates to what the person’s peers think, believe and how they extrapolate their knowledge in a free flowing fashion in a way that the person can judge himself/herself. There may be a sound of distinctiveness in this kind of a differential judgement, and may also seem to be bending in the favour of social media. However this truly isn’t the case. Knowledge should be analogous to flowing oil, which can permeate to all levels of organizational hierarchy, and be able to fill voids if any.

Unlike the above discussion, KM is a completely different ball game in itself. The source of knowledge might be located anywhere, but it is channelled in line with the organization hierarchy, and gathered into a fixed container. From there it may be redirected through a set of predefined set of channels, procedures and method. Social media on the other end looks to be quite more chaotic at the first appearance. It has little or no structure, no knowledge managers, and the wealth of information existing is quite scattered and unorganized.

Having learnt about both the sides of the coin, it is but natural for a person to wonder which one suits better into the organizational mould. While there are companies, that have greatly leveraged the power of social media, there are still some that believe that social media is just a promotional tool, and engagement provided through it can be quite risky in terms of brand sustenance and potential dilution. There are different viewpoints on this, but it is high time that business leaders realize that providing engagement is the best proposition to glean value from the knowledge shared and exchanged on the social media as a tool. There are places like the Tufts school of medicine in the US , which have come out as pioneers in the area of knowledge management. However they still behave nascent in realizing that the KM systems can well integrate with social media to provide it the necessary edge for engagement.

However strong we build the KM into the organizational hierarchical pipeline, it is of no use, if it cannot provide engagement to the users. Today, companies globally are transforming the entire knowledge and information sharing arena into a mass collaboration arena. Good example would be websites like Mahindra’s which not only behave as a hierarchical knowledge management platform but also act as organized mass collaboration platform, utilizing the power of social media as a whole. This wave in KM systems has the potential to change the way things have been working since the past ten years or so , by bringing in the three aspects of mass collaboration – which are getting on with community building, giving people a sense of engagement with purpose, and lastly provide a conduit and means for information to be freely shared.

Creating this particular mass collaboration involves more than the traditional KM systems we talk about, or even study in business schools. The new wave talks about the integration of social media into it. How beautifully control is implemented, is though an issue, even when we know that an embedded system to KM system can help bring better value to the organizations. The organizations such as Tufts School of Medicine, can then benefit from greater user interaction and provide better collaboration on a mass scale through carefully moving from traditional KM systems to the blend of KM and social media systems.

The article has been authored by Kaamil Nakhasi from IMT Ghaziabad.

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