The APQC Blog

2024 Knowledge Management Priorities & Trends

2024 Knowledge Management Priorities & Trends

In my 2024 predictions blog on November 14, 2023, I discussed how business leaders continue to see the connection between knowledge management (KM) and the overall success for their organization. APQC’s recent research on 2024 priorities shows KM is still a priority for most organizations and resources and investments for KM teams and capabilities continues at a steady state. KM impacts not only employee engagement, operational efficiency, and the drive toward building a learning organization but is also a key enabler for data-driven decision making and digital transformation, specially the implementation of artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities. According to our research, here are the top KM priorities for 2024

Top KM Priorities

While KM teams continue to capitalize on organizational momentum, there are many new opportunities along with new and continued challenges in 2024. These top areas of focus emphasize some core KM objectives you will likely recognize in addition to the new top priority, not surprisingly, incorporating AI and generative AI capabilities. While KM can and should support AI, digital transformation, and other technology-related initiatives where appropriate, KM professionals still recognize the need to focus on the essentials. Here’s a closer look at the top three priorities for KM in 2024:

1.  Identifying, mapping, or prioritizing critical knowledge

One reason this priority is so urgent is because a lot of organizations are launching new or expanded KM initiatives. In doing this, it’s smart to start by exploring knowledge needs to ensure you’re effectively scoping your KM projects. Knowledge mapping and prioritization of knowledge aligned to support business objectives help new and expanding KM programs understand what gaps, bottlenecks, and silos they most need to address. 

Another driver of this priority is that even organizations with established KM programs are struggling with a proliferation of knowledge, especially digital content and information (e.g., growing data lakes, multiple team and project sites, chat, intranet, specialized repositories, and more). A lot of this content is poorly organized, particularly when it comes to virtual collaboration channels and outputs. It’s impossible for KM teams to actively “manage” all of this, so they must first identify what’s most important or at-risk. 

Regardless of how established your KM program is, KM teams must continually redefine: 

  • What knowledge is critical to capture and transfer 
  • What knowledge is in scope for active oversight (i.e., validation, review, taxonomy tagging, updating, and archrival) 
  • What new knowledge is emerging due to emerging trends like generative AI

Business strategies, processes, and a focus on new technologies are evolving faster than ever before, and KM teams need to keep up and adapt to make sure they’re providing employees with a direct line to the latest and greatest knowledge.  

2.  Incorporating AI/Generative AI and Smart Technologies 

Every KM team supports different goals and needs, but this year, most are at least experimenting with new technology such as generative AI. And while this can be exciting, organizations are beginning to move from experimentation to wider-scale deployment and implementation and will soon find out if the benefits and impact to the business they expected are actually possible. As you can see, our research indicates the top technology priorities for KM teams in 2024 are largely focused on AI capabilities. 

KM teams in 2024 are largely focused on AI capabilities

To begin addressing AI demands within your organization, APQC recommends focusing on these actions:

  • Ensure there is a valid business reason and purpose for AI and work with your organization’s leaders to develop use cases to experiment and learn before implementing broadly. Implementing technology for the sake of technology because it's new and “everyone is doing it” will not lead to success and will further frustrate employees.
  • Engage the right partners in the development of your AI strategy and implementation. Ensure KM is engaged because IT should not be expected to drive this alone. Also consider partnerships with functions such as Legal and HR to ensure ethics and intellectual property policies are enhanced, as well as core functional teams to ensure continued alignment with business objectives and prioritization of AI use cases. 
  • Consider the impact on the people with something as large as AI which can instill fear, uncertainty, and excitement for employees, depending on their experience and perception. Those involved in the implementation of AI should ensure a solid change management approach to engage early adopters and help other individuals prepare and adapt to a new era that includes AI. 

If you are interested in the role technology plays in KM, you can share your feedback and receive highlights once the study concludes by taking APQC’s activity survey on emerging technologies.

3.  Transferring Expert Knowledge

Transferring expert knowledge is a legacy hot topic for KM and it’s been the focus of many efforts over the past 25 years. But for most organizations, it seems to be a particularly crucial time to capture and pass on expertise. Leaders continue to recognize just how risky it is to concentrate critical knowledge on only one or a small handful of employees. The redundancy of knowledge and knowledgeable people is critical to any business strategy in an era where employees can work from anywhere. And the ongoing loss of long-tenured employees accelerates knowledge loss risks. 

Add to this the ongoing risk of emerging technologies like generative AI, employees can be fearful of either having to learn new skills or losing their position due to automation. Some may not want to wait around for a perceived fallout and could choose to leave the organization without warning which leads to more unexpected knowledge loss. 

Here are some tips and best practices for how to transfer expert knowledge:

  • Start with capabilities such as knowledge mapping or knowledge audits to help you curate and prioritize critical knowledge areas
  • Prioritize knowledge transfer opportunities because you cannot tackle everything
  • Ensure you consider a variety of approaches that align to your organization’s culture and needs
  • Be intentional and schedule a time and place for knowledge transfer activities
  • Celebrate and reward experts for participating in knowledge transfer activities
  • Partner with learning functions to integrate knowledge sharing into the employee lifecycle

Finally, what hasn’t changed for KM is the need for a holistic strategy and approach that includes a focus on people, process, and technology. And the people aspect continues to remain the greatest challenge for most organizations. In 2024, for the fourth year in a row, change management was identified as the top skill for KM teams to focus on.

Top 6 Skillsets for KM to Develop Right Now

Change management is ensuring the people side of any change, process or technology, is considered before, during, and throughout implementation. For KM to make an impact, employees need to change how they work by adopting new tools, processes, and/or behaviors. Ensuring there are plans in place to manage communications, employee resistance and engagement, coaching for leaders, training, and rewards can ensure the success of any KM implementation.

To learn more about 2024 KM priorities and trends and how KM teams are leveraging change management, consider these additional resources: 2024 Knowledge Management Priorities and Predictions Survey Report2024 Pulse Check: Top KM Priorities and Predictions Webinar and Making Change Management Mindful.