The APQC Blog

AI Won’t Replace Knowledge Managers' Jobs…Yet

According to artificial intelligence expert Kai-Fu Lee, 40 percent of today’s jobs will be replaced by robots by the year 2035. Will one of those jobs be knowledge manager?

At APQC’s 2019 KM Conference, attendees talked about how advanced tech would impact the future of KM. Many attendees expect that technologies like AI will help KM teams be more efficient and effective and, ultimately, deliver greater value to the business. But others wondered whether tech might do more harm than good for the KM discipline.

In a live Q&A session, APQC’s KM experts Carla O’Dell, Lauren Trees, and Darcy Lemons, as well as experienced practitioners in the audience, responded to the following question: “Will the influx of new technologies weaken the role of knowledge management?”

Carla O’Dell: KM’s role in content management governance will not go away. Machines can’t make the judgement calls about what content is critical and what’s not.

Lauren Trees: I think the role of KM is going to become even more important in content and in collaboration. We’re at this moment where so many companies are adopting tools like Office 365, and everyone can make a team [in Microsoft Teams]. We’ve been there with previous technology, where everyone could make their own community, site, or chat group. At some point, there’s so much proliferation that the pendulum swings back and we realize that we need more governance.

Even if we are using these tools to provide a more customized, personalized experience for employees, that doesn’t mean there isn’t governance behind the scenes.

Darcy Lemons: KM can position itself as the people who have those governance best practices, guidelines, and business rules, and we can offer that as a service to departments and teams. Let us show you how to use these resources to benefit what you’re trying to accomplish.

Health Care KM Practitioner: KM doesn’t own any of the content at our organization. All the content belongs to the business, and we got them to sign off on a roles and responsibilities matrix. We’ve actually devolved our governance; we’ve loosened our grip on content by teaching them to fish—that is, teaching them about what content quality means. In doing that, it’s freed up our team to focus on other things.

Petroleum KM Practitioner: We had this same question when SharePoint KM came around: “How can KM survive with this smart technology?” No matter how smart, fast, and mobile our technology is, success still hinges on the implementation—how well we manage and curate our content.

Professional Services KM Practitioner: Technology can’t analyze or prioritize white space. It can’t understand what we don’t know we don’t know yet. Technology can’t do that; it can only work off the content we already have, so it can’t innovate and be creative.

For answers to other questions such as “How can practitioners ensure the survival of KM programs in organizational restructuring?”, “How can KM practitioners get the business to take more ownership of content?” and more, see Top Questions Answered at APQC’s 2019 KM Conference.