Nurturing and retaining knowledge is key to efficient business for now and the future. Stephanie Sparrow looks at how companies are making the most of information
The global gathering of HR professionals breathed a sigh of relief when one of their major headaches came out in the open last week.
At the Human Resources World Conference in Paris, IBM HR president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Frederico Castellanos came clean about two of the key problems facing HR professionals: the pressures of rapid change and the need to get to grips with knowledge management.
"In terms of finding the right people, anything goes - it is a real fight, especially with new skills that are at the leading edge of technology," he said. "The problem is that skills you need today you don't necessarily need tomorrow and the disturbing thing is that I have no idea what I will I need in 10 years from now."
His statement clarifies what many knew was on its way, that the issue of knowledge management is firmly in the HR arena and the profession had better get to grips with managing this invisible, yet invaluable asset fast.
Another call to arms came at the end of last month when management development institute Roffey Park published research on Developing a Knowledge Creating Culture (Personnel Today, 30 May). Report author Christina Evans says, "HR has an influential role to play in ensuring that the organisation identifies and develops the intellectual capital needed to meet the business objectives."
But she admits, "The pace of change within organisations today is making it difficult to keep abreast of existing knowledge, let alone identify what knowledge will be needed in the future."
Many organisations have no idea what they know now or what they need to know for the future while being simultaneously swamped by too much information (which is distinctly different from "knowledge"). Separate research, featured in KPMG Consulting's latest report on knowledge management shows that 65 per cent of the blue chip firms and multinationals surveyed were suffering from information overload and 62 per cent did not have enough time to share knowledge effectively.
The potential for information overload has increased because technological advances mean that it is easier to circulate information. These leaps forward have been accompanied by IT professionals gaining an increased influence.
Roffey Park's Eva