In the case of the Web 2.0 Watermill, there are primarily four areas where technology is beginning to facilitate a vastly improved Internet: knowledge collection, knowledge discovery, knowledge building, and knowledge sharing.
– Ken Yarmosh, Why Web 2.0 Matters to your Business
Knowledge sharing is what enables employees to get their jobs done everyday. Without the knowledge and expertise of other co-workers, it is difficult for anything to get accomplished. That holds true regardless of the size of the company.
Thus, one of the biggest bottlenecks for growth relates to the inability to share knowledge. If Susan cannot ask Bob how much it costs to buy three hundred widgets under a tight budget, she will not be able to finish her proposal.
One of the big advancements in this area came through the local area network and file sharing. Now, even when Bob was sick, Susan had the ability to reference his pricing notes.
The web has played an important part in the development of knowledge sharing. More generally, the Internet has ushered in the “Information Age” – much of mankind’s knowledge is now accessible via the click of a mouse.
Blogs, wikis, RSS, and podcasts are all awesome methods to share knowledge within the organization. Knowledge sharing really is the primary focus of each of these technologies.
One quick example is how IBM has used podcasts to share information with their employees. Instead of mandating the time when people had to come or call-in to listen to talks, they made them available by podcast. Besides lowering phone bills, the employees could choose the best time to listen to the discussion – they didn’t have to be inconvenienced.
It is going to take some time but my hope is that Web 2.0 will really transform knowledge sharing behind corporate walls. Let’s face it, e-mail is not the most convenient means for employees to share information. Old or outdated files out on the servers just take up space. All the links and resources an employee has marked as “favorites” in his browser benefits no one except him.
These new tools can help with these issues but there is a prerequisite to benefit from their use – organizational acceptance. There must be a shift from employee competition to employee collaboration. And in order for that to occur, management has to present a convincing case why they should do so.