Knowledge management, automation, and artificial intelligence (AI) promise to make everyone in the organization technical experts, creating an ultra-smart, efficient business. But will the knowledge revolution make IT professionals and IT service management (ITSM) surplus to requirements?
Effective knowledge management is about creating parity. Whereas, knowledge in business terms has traditionally created an elitist hierarchy – the more knowledge a person has, the more privileged and powerful their position. This is especially true of IT. Many professionals trade almost exclusively on their specialist knowledge of how technology is coded, configured, and delivered into the business.
What if you could level this playing field for IT professionals?
An organization that captures and shares the knowledge of these specialists in real time would be much smarter. Rather than relying on these expert individuals, effective knowledge management means that EVERY person in the organization is an expert.
Knowledge-centred Service (KCS®) is a methodology, created by the Consortium of Service Innovation, which is quickly gaining momentum. KCS attempts to create a single source of an organization’s collective knowledge. And rather than using a manual process to retrospectively populate a knowledge base, KCS details how to capture knowledge at the point it’s initially shared. This makes the process more accurate and less laborious.
KCS delivers results
The results are clear. Organizations adopting KCS report that the time for new starters to reach competency – i.e. reach the same level as the knowledge experts – improves by 70%.
The speed of solving technical problems is also massively improved – a 50-60% boost according to adopters of KCS (and you can learn more about KCS here).
The end result of improving knowledge management, using a methodology such as KCS, is that every individual has access to the same intelligence. Then, plugging this knowledge into an automated self-service portal drastically reduces the need for expensive human intervention. And, as we see AI increasingly managing self-help facilities, this dynamic only increases.
Does this mean that knowledge experts will be less valuable?
And ultimately, will it mean that IT professionals will be engineered out of a job?
The short answer is “no” – but with a major caveat. Organizations will always need product and technology experts to lead the acquisition and application of knowledge. However, the role of the IT professional will change massively as a result of knowledge management.
By arming individuals (and customers) with the same knowledge as elite IT professionals, there’s far less call for individuals who simply relay information to the business. Technical knowledge is very limited without context – if raw knowledge was sufficient, distributing user manuals would be the beginning and end of knowledge management.
However, it isn’t – and that’s because the application of knowledge is the important factor. The best IT professionals are those who understand the bigger picture:
- Where is the technology used?
- How does it benefit the organization?
- What problems do they have?
- Can it be replaced with something more effective?
This level of knowledge is only achieved through IT professionals building relationships
By talking to individuals, learning about their role, their challenges, and their needs, IT professionals can begin to add real value. This is critical to the success of Business Relationship Management (BRM) and, for this reason, knowledge management plays a hugely important role in spreading its principles.
By automating the majority of high volume transactional queries, knowledge management enables the relationship between IT professionals and their business colleagues to take center stage. Knowledge accelerates the speed at which people connect, by offering a level-playing-field of knowledge. If the baseline of knowledge is high, the conversation skips the transactional “how-does-this-work” stage, moving immediately to the strategic application of technology.
Knowledge management, if executed correctly, will capture the relationship as well as the pure knowledge. It will provide a snapshot of how the knowledge is applied to business, how best to impart it to the business, and how to ensure it offers maximum value. For this reason, knowledge management is essential for BRM. But similarly, knowledge management will only achieve its potential if it’s considered as part of a broader BRM approach.
But IT professionals be warned…<
IT professionals who excel at recalling information, but are poor at listening, translating technical knowledge, and managing relationships, are in danger of becoming redundant. Effective knowledge management, if not eliminating them completely, will drastically reduce their influence and importance.
However, the importance of IT professionals that excel at problem solving, communication, and building meaningful relationships will grow in a major way. These are the people that will never be surplus to business requirements.
Want to know more? I’ve co-written a guide to KCS and how it helps deliver transformative knowledge management. A Beginners Guide to Knowledge Centered Service can be download for free by following the link.
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Kevin Baker has been in the IT service management industry for over 12 years and has an extensive background in software development, professional services, and business management. He founded Sollertis in 2013 on the core belief that people working together can achieve anything and truly make a difference both in and out of the work environment. Today, under Kevin’s leadership, Sollertis is a leading IT and Business Convergence solution provider, that inspire, coach, develop and deliver success in ITSM, knowledge management, and business relationship management to organisations across multiple sectors world-wide.