For about five years around the turn of the century most of my days were spent helping clients manage their knowledge. Back in 2000 knowledge management (KM) was really big. Every year I’d head off to Amsterdam for the obligatory industry conference, KM Europe. We even had our own home grown conference, KM UK, with pretty much the same people but with less impressive venues. Then suddenly things went quiet – KM Europe was suddenly cancelled in 2005, KM UK limped along (and is still going today). KM had lost its way. The promises hadn’t been fulfilled. Of course KM just didn’t disappear overnight – it just degraded gracefully. One client, a very large UK multinational, shed their KM teams and announced that KM was now ‘embedded in the business’.
KM still goes on but it’s likely to be on the margins and not essential for peak organisational performance whereas in 2000 KM really was positioned as a game changer.
So what happened?