Pondering on the verge of 2015
1 December 2014
Dr. Moria Levy
Another year has passed. Maybe it's just me growing old, but the years seem to fly by. It seems as if all is as was before. Luckily, concerning the Knowledge Management field this isn't true. This year had its surprises.
The Open Source and free software world is a prominent market force. We discovered this quite coincidentally. I remember being requested by one of Israel's largest hi-tech organizations to recommend a Wiki-implying method (yes, that's where it all started). The interesting part is how the organization decided on using Wiki in the first place. Their infrastructure workers were moving a server and stumbled upon a wiki-based problems database. They then discovered another similar database, and then yet another. A thorough inspection revealed that each development department in the organization had started its own wiki-database, a total of 5 separate databases. Knowledge Management at its best.
Another level of this phenomenon was reached in early 2014 by use of social media. At this stage, decision makers were showing creativity as well. The use of social media can be contributed to two factors (apart from the obvious cost factor). The organizations discovered that these formats weren't as risky as initially perceived. They also realized that in many cases the free software were more efficient than the costly ones.
Another stage in the emergence of Open Source this year was most companies offering cloud services. These have a great advantage: they don't require installation, licensing or any of the bureaucracy we grew accustomed to installing software. In short, decision making is quite hesitation-free in these cases.
These free (or almost free) solutions are applicable in knowledge sharing fields other than wiki: organizational newsletters, campaign management and even website development. A site is easy to build and maintain while various functions are available nowadays.
So how does this phenomenon affect decision makers?
First and foremost, it obliges us to think openly when applying a knowledge sharing solution. We must consider the variety of tools and solutions available nowadays. We must consider the benefits in adding a new solution to our arsenal. Don't get me wrong: newer solutions aren't always better. I oppose organizational chaos. Solutions’ uniformity is cogitatively more user-friendly. There are advantages to using one search engine for all information and organizational knowledge. There is another price to openness: since choosing a product requires study and research, no cost means (almost) no marketing. Nevertheless, knowing the free programs' disadvantages shouldn't stop us from using them. Rather, we should always consider the pros and cons in each specific scenario and choose wisely. This way, we can enrich our overall functionality and share more.
We can see the next step of this process in the Gamification field. And maybe, just maybe, we might soon see a discount on traditional software. But I'm getting ahead of myself. This will probably take a few more years.