Knowledge management and desktop Weblogs.  The biggest trend in business right now is the move to find ways to more effectively manage knowledge workers through knowledge management.  This is akin to what Taylor did to improve the poductivity of the manufacturing workers but applied to knowledge workers.  Surveys claim that over 50% of businesses will take steps to buy software that improves knowledge management.  Why?  Necessity.  Companies want to improve knowledge worker productivity and improve the return on technology investments in networking and desktop computers.  It is critical to the top and bottom line.

Unfortunately, most knowledge management initiatives merely improve the quality of document search, document directories, and data analysis.  While that is useful, it doesn't capture the vast amount of insight, tips, points of view, and real-time feedback that is generated by knowledge workers everyday.  Most of this knowledge is lost in e-mail inboxes, talks around the coffee maker, and in IM chats.  Additionally, day-to-day insight and direction provided by corporate managers is often lost in the same manner.   The solution to this is the employee/manager Weblog. 

Why Weblogs?  Well, to begin with, Weblogs are an easy way to publish to the Intranet.  Radio, for example, runs on the desktop and provides an easy to use WYSIWYG interface in the browser.  Using Radio (or Manila), anyone can publish content to the Internet.  In addition, Weblogs are automated Websites.  All of the hassle associated with building a Webpage is taken out of the process so publishers can focus on building great content. 

The ability to easily post content (written words, documents, pictures, video, and audio) changes the landscape.  Any employee can now publish their insight onto the Web with little effort, and thereby make that knowledge available to everyone else in the company.  Further, since Weblogs are automatically archived, that knowledge is never lost and is always available (unlike e-mails and IM).

Here at UserLand (disclosure:  I am the COO at UserLand if you didn't already know) we have taken the knowledge management value of Weblogs a step farther.  With Radio, we have included support for RSS newsfeeds.  That way employees can have the option to subscribe to the Weblogs of employees they trust and have Radio automatically collect the news in the background.  This news is different than the standard AP and Reuters feeds found on most Intranet portals.  It's relevant and specific to getting the job done.  Using Radio and personal Weblogs, companies can automate and formalize the process of the development of  corporate knowledge networks. 

We have also developed some interesting community features that make Radio interesting to corporations.  We have stats that track the populartiy of Weblogs, the number of subscribers to a Weblog, the referrers to a Weblog, and REAL-TIME search functionality (which is critical in a high velocity enterprise).  By tracking this information, managers can quickly see who in the company is a valuable source of knowledge for other workers, which specific items of knowledge are gaining traction, and get a good sense of the velocity of information transfer withing the company.

If you are serious about knowledge management in your company either as an independent project or as part of your Intranet initiative, consider employee Weblogs. 

BTW:  since Radio is a fully functional content management system on the desktop, you can build additional functionality into your employee Weblogs as additional Web pages viewable on the desktop.  For example:  These additional tools can pull information from corporate information systems via XML-RPC and SOAP, that enable employees to view real-time results from financial systems, sales systems, inventory systems, and corporate knowledge databases (Lotus and others).  Since these tools are Web apps, they can be built in days not months and take minutes to install.  [John Robb's Radio Weblog]

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