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So, THIS (SharePoint 2010) is what happened to knowledge management!

Microsoft officially unveiled SharePoint 2010 yesterday to great fanfare, much of which actually was deserved.  The litany of improvements and new features the company outlined was lengthy, and not just a few were greatly needed and long overdue.

Many of the new virtues had to do with content and records management, and over the course of time, we will be sure to deal with those here. (For now, it may be interesting to know that the highlights included the increased exposure of retention-related functions, and the ability to manage sets of documents as individual units.)

One of the most immediately intriguing area of focus, however, had to do with the concept of “My Sites,” which are the moral equivalent of Facebook and LinkedIn pages within the enterprise. Built around the compiling of “colleagues” – “friends,” in these other contexts – My Sites are fully searchable personal compendiums of people, expertise, and resources that serve as modern-day representations of what we long-time knowledge management proponents endeavored (often with little success) to get organizations to construct.

Fundamentally, what we’re talking is a dynamic database of information about individuals’ areas of expertise and interest – information that of course needs to be entered in order to be leveraged. The problem in years past was that employees wouldn’t spend the time and effort required to tell the database about themselves, and so the idea, while sound, lagged.

Today, however, the landscape has changed dramatically. Thanks to FaceBook, LinkedIn, Information Zen, and the myriad others, it no longer feels above and beyond the call of duty to provide this sort of data – in fact, the psychology has changed to the point where it almost becomes a badge of honor to have completed a profile and to have assembled a large network of contacts.

SharePoint had admirably tapped into this phenomenon by linking My Sites to a number of other technologies that remove some of the burden and add a great deal of value. Not the least of these include presence, so one can see whether a particular contact is online, and the ability to pull data in from other repositories like PeopleSoft and Active Directory.

The result is a nifty bit of functionality that with a minimal adoption curve can really add to life within a larger organization. That it is baked into SharePoint promises to breathe new life into the practice of managing knowledge, which has always been a good idea, but perhaps never has had a rising technology star to hitch itself to.

So for those of you who have been wondering, this – SharePoint 2010 – may well be what knowledge management has become. And you know what? That isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Readers in my neck of the woods may wish to check out the Boston Area SharePoint Users Group at The inaugural meeting last night was a smash hit, and I’ll be glad to see you there.

3 thoughts on “So, THIS (SharePoint 2010) is what happened to knowledge management!”

  1. Nice post. To make SharePoint a KM system, it has to go beyond just a place for documents. The challenge today is that many people still communicate, discuss, make decisions via email (mainly due to the Blackberry which simply proliferates collaboration via email).

    SharePoint needs to be used a social and collaborative application (and needs to be more mobile) and then and only then will we recognize it as a platform for knowledge.

  2. Steve – I agree and disagree. SharePoint, especially its 2010 version, offers a lot of features that make it a good option for a KM platform. Your point about folks getting used to creating profiles in the web 2.0 space, therefore potentially being less resistant to creating one in SharePoint, is an excellent one. But to say that SP is what KM has become obscures the human struggles to manage knowledge (and not just information) that are common to every organization (at least all the ones with which I’ve worked) and also unique within every organization. Many of the discussions at meetings of the Boston Knowledge Management Forum and the Boston chapter of SIKM involve this popular technology and all the questions it doesn’t answer. I hope you’ll consider joining one of the upcoming meetings of either of those groups – we’d love to have your voice in the discussion!

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