Who buys Knowledge Management?

I was going to write about Knowledge Management models, at least that’s what I thought earlier in the week when I started to write this, but I have discarded that notion, at least for now.

As some of you will know, I have been out on my own doing Knowledge Management consulting for almost 6 years, after spending 4 years implementing it in a business unit at a large technology company, who will remain nameless. During this time as a consultant I have often pondered who to target with my sales pitch and marketing strategy, business or IT?

Certainly the projects that I have done seem to turn out better when the business brings me in, and we work with IT as a stakeholder, since technology is inevitably part of the KM strategy implementation. But people are often trying to connect me to IT people as they perceive that my services are IT, not business-related.

It all became clear to me the other night at the Knowledge Worker Toronto event https://www.meetup.com/Knowledge-Workers-Toronto/calendar/11140670/, thanks goes to Graham Westwood for pointing out what probably should have been obvious to me, except that it wasn’t. What did Graham point out? That it is usually, HR, Finance, or the CEO who have the most control/say over the budget, IT usually is perceived as a cost centre so doesn’t get the same say in budget decision making.

Why was this not obvious to me? I was coming at the problem from a different direction. I focus on solving business problems by using Knowledge Management activities to improved efficiency and effectiveness. So I was asking the question, “who has business problems that they want solved?” The answer anyone and everyone, which doesn’t help me target who to talk to. Asking the question differently, “who controls the budget purse-strings?” gets a much different response.

Anyone have any different/additional thoughts?

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One Response to Who buys Knowledge Management?

  1. Karen D says:

    While finding out who controls the purse-strings is very important, it seems to me the bigger challenge is that not all business people understand what KM is or its true benefits. It sounds like something that is IT oriented and in my experience, it is often mentioned only by IT types. Another challenge is that if you need to make your bottom line in the short term, KM (and other strategic initiatives) often get short shrift. To overcome this tendency, it is best to get support from within the C-suite of any organization.

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