Can KM and AR work together?

I love to read – Harvard Business Review and Fast Company being my favorite business reads; FBI crime thrillers my favorite leisure read. Sandra Brown and Catherine Coulter really know how to write engaging dialogue! I used to just skim Fast Company for big ideas but I have been reading most of the articles now because while they may not be completely related to my profession as a communicator, I find that in every technology, innovation and green article, there is something I can take away about what the future may hold. And, I challenge myself to draw connections and be forward-thinking.

In November’s issue, an article on Augmented Reality (AR) caught my eye, and I put my futurist hat on to think about the link between Knowledge Management and AR. AR is the technology concept where you can be visiting Paris, walking by the Eiffel Tower and your device will know where you are based on GPS and display historical information about the Eiffel Tower. I would be nervous if I was a tour guide.

What an astounding concept for knowledge management! Imagine if we could retrieve information about people that way…the new augmented expertise locator! Or, embed information about a system, process or experience this way. It wouldn’t depend on GPS because these are not tangible items like the Eiffel Tower but if they could depend on simple inputs like voice instead of GPS.

I could say: “Close deal with UPS.” And, videos of people telling stories could be downloaded to my mobile device telling me how to do that, a screen listing hot buttons about UPS, bios of decision-makers, and the list goes on and on.

What we can’t avoid is even with the convenience of AR, there still has to be someone who creates content. The ease in which we access that information can be aided by mobile devices, cloud computing and other technology but content will continue to be king.

Doggie Paddling to Stay Afloat

As recent as last year or last month, companies were working hard to implement SharePoint and the latest, greatest social tools. However, today, these capital investments are hard to come by in most companies. For those of us in the boat of status quo – doggie paddling to stay afloat – what can we do to outlast disappearing programs, shelved technology implementations and suspended initiatives?

Dog in WaterMaximize current technology.

“Make due with what you have.” Leverage current investments.” “Maximize our current toolset.” How many of you have heard these very statements? As old or clunky as it might be, it’s time to be creative and figure out how to make incremental changes with what you have. Some of us are lucky to have SharePoint; others are still struggling with out-dated Notes Databases and prehistoric Document Management Systems that stifle collaboration instead of enabling it. (Anyone in this boat with me?)  However, there are ways to work with your IT group to customize these things. I know…”customize” is a terrible word. But, using IT to customize existing technology vs. implementing new technology is sometimes an easier pill to swallow. I have found the word “new” is scary right now even if it is “better”…at least for now.

Dust off your process maps (or create them!).

I have always thought that I could never make true process improvements without better technology. While I still believe this is true to some extent, there are opportunities to create processes that have never existed before (with or without technology) and streamline existing ones by focusing on the people in the equation. I was so caught up in implementing social tools (that ended up being shelved) that I neglected the fact that we have no great way to vet our “best” content. Would new technology make that easier? Yes! But, let’s get back to defining what we hold up as our “best” work and decide who will make that decision. Both processes take human thought not capital dollars.

Partner with the other “under the gun” support functions to create a cohesive strategy.

Unfortunately, in tough times, turf wars can happen. Instead of fighting for corners of an organizational strategy, work together to co-create one strategy that serves everyone’s interests and divide roles and responsibilities accordingly. Learning, Knowledge Management and Internal/Employee Communications need to work together for the survival of all. For years, I have been collaborating with these two groups but so many others I have spoken to have never discussed a single program with them. It’s time to stop defending your turf and embrace the entire landscape as a team.