Companies typically consist of several different departments. 

While the employees are all working to achieve the same goal – usually to sell more products or services to consumers, thereby generating more revenue for their company – communication systems are sometimes so ineffective that workers in one department often have little understanding of what their colleagues in the other departments are doing, even if such shared knowledge could potentially make it much easier for everyone to get their jobs done.

“And knowledge – that is the key word here,” says Dayle Wheeler, MD of ModernBusiness, a company specialising in using technology to solve problems. “As the adage rightfully points out, knowledge is power. So it all boils down to the concept of knowledge management (KM).

“That term was coined more than two decades ago, at the start of the 90s, and was later defined by Gartner Group as being ‘a discipline that promotes an integrated approach to identifying, capturing, evaluating, retrieving and sharing all of an enterprise’s information assets. These assets may include databases, documents, policies, procedures, and previously uncaptured expertise and experience in individual workers’.

“But although it isn’t a new concept, there needs to be a change in how it is applied in today’s workplace.”

Wheeler says the Internet has drastically increased the amount of information that companies and individuals now have to deal with on a daily basis.
“Last year, Google’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, famously stated that these days, the amount of new information that is being generated just every two days around the world is equivalent to all the information that saw the light of day from the dawn of civilisation until 2003. This is why KM is crucial to the productivity and survival of any organisation.”

On any given work day, the average employee reportedly makes fourteen phone calls, logs into nine different systems, and wades through hundreds of e-mails. All these activities take precious time out of a workday and – like some meetings – are often counterproductive and a waste of time.
Wheeler says KM can be overhauled and streamlined by replacing those time consuming activities with enterprise social networking (ESN).

Wheeler, who is also the founder of the innovative “ideas” ESN, says that ESN fosters collaboration.
“I completely agree with Don Tapscott, an adjunct professor at the University of Toronto, who was recently quoted as saying that knowledge is an infinite resource. Until now, companies have wrongly tried to containerise it, but the most effective way to manage such a vast resource is through an effective, internally shared platform where everyone can freely share their ideas with their colleagues.

“With a solid ESN, collaboration is not only encouraged, but actually forms an organic part of how users interact on the platform. We all know that the digital age has generated more information than we know what to do with, but it is only when a piece of information becomes relevant to you does it then become knowledge.”

He points out that ESN not only improves productivity, but can save your company money as well.

“Sometimes, jobs get outsourced at great cost when there is actually someone two departments over who has the expertise and knowledge to perform that particular task. When you are communicating effectively with all your co-workers, you will have a better understanding of what everyone’s skill sets are, which will cut down the need for hiring outside contractors.”