Knowledge: Today’s Competitive Advantage

March 16, 2018


There is widespread agreement that the Information Age will continue to see significant – if not exponential – growth in the volume of data that we create as employees (and consumers). Not only does this kind of increase create challenges related to storage and management, but it also creates a need for new positions to support these expanding environments. In addition to IT-related roles that administer the back-end functions and data analysts that help make sense of the data, roles such as user experience specialist and digital knowledge manager are projected to become more important to an organization’s success. For example, according to a recent Forbes posting:

“Digital knowledge management will emerge as one of marketing’s most important responsibilities. With the rise of more intelligent systems, the importance of ensuring your company’s information is accurate will be even more critical. Too many businesses have yet to make digital knowledge management a priority. There’s a lot of opportunity for improvement here.”

Another recent posting, this one via Entrepreneur, states:

“A Digital Knowledge Manager, or DKM, is first and foremost someone who can track down all the authoritative sources of knowledge about your brand, people, products, events and locations from within your organization.”

While the “digital knowledge management” explored in these postings is primarily related to marketing and not learning and development (L&D), knowledge is clearly an asset that requires our attention, regardless of functional area. A recent Time magazine posting supports this point. In the article, leaders at IBM and other large technology firms project that the future of the digital revolution will be about both social networks and knowledge. “The next phase is not about the network alone, but also about knowledge. That, she said, will depend on proprietary data, as well as the expertise in the hands of companies…” The author goes on to state “core expertise is more important and more relevant than ever” and that most of these companies “are either building, or participating in, platforms, which are vital to their future.”

What does all of this mean for the learning professional? I believe there are three key implications:

    • now is an unprecedented time for L&D to extend their reach and impact
      • seek out opportunities to collaborate with the DKM and other related roles
      • advocate and/or manage technologies that connect co-workers between departments and across locations
      • partner with operations teams to curate existing job aids, tip sheets, how-to manuals, etc. to help scale insights
    • the traditional “course” can’t be the only way to codify know-how
      • shifting our view of the learning function from something that is event-based or time/location-bound to more of a performance support approach allows us to see valuable content and meaningful interactions everywhere
    • the depth and breadth of the overlap between work and learning is essential to managing knowledge
      • through solving problems, making decisions, innovation, etc., day-to-day work is where expertise is demonstrated. This dynamic often occurs in one-to-one or small group contexts.
      • converting this expertise into organizational intelligence requires that the learning function act as the bridge to scale this dynamic into one-to-many contexts

What new roles do you expect to see in your organization over the next few years? Which departments in your organization would benefit from the insights and ideas of another department? Who or what do people turn to when they need to learn something quickly and correctly? We look forward to your comments below.

For more on the evolving role of learning and development please see one of our earlier posts: Using Social Technologies to Reshape L&D´s Role


About the author

Stan’s first experience with instructional technology occurred in 1999 when he used SMART Boards to help employees learn how to use the Microsoft Office Suite. He then became an instructional designer and systems trainer for a variety of proprietary CRM software solutions. From there, Stan worked as a Training Manager and later as a Project Manager for an early leader in online education. As his experience with online learning grew, and as his understanding of the need to connect strategy with technology evolved, Stan began to focus on the relationship between blended learning and social business. It was these insights that attracted him to Jive and Pokeshot’s SmarterPath LMS the first time he saw it in 2012. Stan’s current role with the company not only allows him to support the sales, marketing, and product development teams, but it also allows him to work directly with customers as they implement SmarterPath. Prior to joining Pokeshot in October 2016, Stan spent several years working as a freelance consultant, successfully completing learning technology projects for such clients as Right Management, National University System and the U.S. Forest Service.


Connect with us on facebook | twitter | LinkedIn | YouTube – we will keep you posted!

Leave a Reply