Enterprise Social Media – Next generation knowledge process management

In 2003 McKinsey asked “Do you know who your experts are?

They were highlighting that many organizations don’t have systems for organizing and utilizing their intellectual knowledge, the catalogue of their ‘Human Capital’. Given we are now in the age of the Knowledge Economy this is therefore obviously a major strategic shortfall.

Then in 2010 they were reporting how much this field had evolved to address the matter. In ‘Harnessing Your Staff’s Informal Networks‘ they described how ‘Communities of Practice’, an expertise-centric grouping together of staff from across multiple organizational units, have matured from entirely unofficial, ad-hoc phenomena to a strategic toolset used by progressive businesses to augment their functional matrix structures.

It is the ability to enable this type of dynamic and knowledge-intensive collaboration where Enterprise 2.0 technologies offer the most maximum business value, especially when combined with other technologies to enable ‘KPM’ – Knowledge Process Management.

Through an enterprise social media strategy this blends together the previously distinct domains of BPM – Business Process Management, and KM – Knowledge Management.

Organizations can equip their staff with the tools to create and operate online professional communities, and via Cloud API integrations can link these up with new and legacy process systems.

Human Capital 2.0 – Social knowledge management

As highlighted, despite considerable investments many organizations have failed to utilize technology effectively to address their knowledge management needs.

This is mainly because of the nature of this type of information. Expertise about products, technologies and various other skillsets is hard to record in ‘structured’ database type applications in the same way it is achieved for stock control ERP type applications.

Software like Document Management offer a plethora of Information Management features for categorizing and storing organizational knowledge, but these are mostly ignored in preference of fast and furious email collaboration methods. These applications are simply too slow and cumbersome to prove practical in the demanding corporate world.

In contrast ‘social media’, tools like blogs, wikis, online communities, Twitter et al, are ideal for doing so, they are so popular because of this natural fit for how people communicate and share knowledge.

Their most notably feature is the user-centricity. They make sharing knowledge quick and easy, where it’s simple and convenient to not only publish useful information for others to share, but also to easily index it with complex taxonomy data so that it’s easy to find too.

In essence Enterprise 2.0 represents “People ware” for providing this functionality. It’s automating the work of people, including their social exchanges, in the same way ERP systems automate warehouse logistics. It enables users to rapidly create and share rich information, which via tagging and other indexing methods can be permanently structured into knowledge base material.

This same strategic approach is also communicated through much earlier work by Douglas Englebart (inventor of the mouse and GUI), Towards High Performance Organization, a Strategic Role for Groupware, where long before Facebook or even the web he envisaged the same environment and the collaborative models it would enable.

He described an OHS – Open Hyperdocument System, online file sharing, a hyper-linked journaling system, personal signature encryption and more, that later became the Web 2.0 environment that McAfee described.

Englebarts core idea was that this would augment the capabilities of the people using it in such a way as to improve the overall Organizational Intelligence, via a ‘CODIAK’ framework: The concurrent development, integration and application of knowledge. Ie. Users would be much more enabled to learn, share and act on a collective knowledge, to better achieve the organizations



  1. “Their most notably feature is the user-centricity. They make sharing knowledge quick and easy”

    If you want to take advantage of your human capital you need to make sure your system is about them! How does your team share/process/exchange/learn?

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