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I led a BPX Knowledge Table session at SAP TechEd Las Vegas last Thursday entitled “Internal Communities and Corporate Knowledge Management.”   Participants from internal and external teams came together in a lively discussion of Web 2.0 trends, collaboration platforms, and knowledge management strategy.   Here is a summary.

A quick overview of my role and interest in this topic: I am responsible for tracking technologies emerging inside of SAP, and enabling my team’s customer group – primarily the Sales field – to use the new tools to do their jobs.  The stated vision of my team, Global Business Ops – Knowledge Management Competency Center, is “To improve field productivity through the effective management of SAP enterprise content and content-delivery channels.”  As a member of KMCC, I provide direction on the use of new technologies in alignment with this knowledge management-centered vision.
 
To begin the discussion, we reviewed a couple definitions of Knowledge Management that I particularly like.  KM may be defined as “a range of practices used by organisations (sic) to identify, create, represent, and distribute knowledge for reuse, awareness and learning” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knowledge_management) or “a strategy (or practice) that… promotes creation and sharing, and enhances the use of knowledge in order to improve organizational performance” (Rus, Lindvall and Sachin: A State of the Art Report: Knowledge Management in Software Engineering, 2001). 

The second definition is cited by SDN blogger http://www.sdn.sap.com/irj/sdn/weblogs?blog=/pub/u/7993 [original link is broken] [original link is broken] [original link is broken] [original link is broken] [original link is broken] [original link is broken] in his post KM – from a KM manager’s perspective.  Ariel proposes the following view of the KM Ecosystem.  Yariv addressed the value of interoperability and providing entry points to collaboration platforms inside the tools people are already using.  With Tim O’Reilly’s keynote address still ringing in our ears, we discussed ‘sharing by default’ and how google is fueling a trend toward convergence .  Really fun stuff.

Yariv also pointed to the somewhat less fun topic of compliance (a la GRC, SOX) and the importance of governance behind the corporate firewall.  Not surprisingly, a lively discussion about governance of collaborative content ensued.  I was happy to have a few representatives from SDN/BPX – Audrey Weinland, Frauke Hoffman, and Marilyn Pratt – at the table to share their experiences setting governance policies for the SDN and BPX Communities. 

Marilyn noted a particular challenge faced by growing communities.  In the beginning, community ‘gardeners’ work hard to increase membership, encourage participation, and expand the volume of content. However, once the community reaches a certain point, ramp-up mode must transition to maintenance mode, which frequently takes the form of quality control.  The trick is to strike the right balance between quantity and quality, encouraging participation while ensuring a certain level of reliability.  SDN and BPX have grown through these phases and have enacted governance policies that help to keep the community active and relevant.  For example, writers must apply for permission to blog on the platform.  Blog proposals must include specific ideas and align with topic areas of interest.  New bloggers are more heavily moderated than more experienced bloggers.  Additionally, SDN will soon classify certain wikis as “expert.”  Full edit rights will be granted only to recognized subject matter experts. 

To wrap up, this was a great discussion!  The group represented such a complementary mix of experiences, interests, and perspectives.  Thanks again to all who participated!

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