In South Africa, the need to preserve institutional knowledge to drive organisational performance is exacerbated by the fact that skilled and experienced South Africans are leaving the country at a rapidly increasing rate. Statistics from the Department of Home Affairs showed that in 2017, eight South African professionals left for every skilled foreigner who entered the country and further showing a year on year increase.
Technology is undoubtedly a big part of the growing need for more effective knowledge management. In the digital, hyper-connected era, organisations are collecting and generating a “tsunami of data” but few are able to capitalise on its full potential.
With the explosion of workforce conversations on digital collaboration tools, knowledge no longer sits in databases waiting to be accessed - but flows dynamically across the digital communications channels that now define working relationships. New ways of working have increased worker mobility. Workers in both traditional and alternative work arrangements are moving across jobs, projects, teams, geographies, and organisations more than ever before, taking critical knowledge with them. With the rise of remote work and worker mobility, knowledge management will become an increasing business imperative.
Despite an acknowledgment that the new ways of work have shifted, many organisations’ approaches to knowledge management have not kept pace. An effective knowledge management approach can give employees a larger platform to build on each other’s knowledge and expertise, helping to increase an employee’s value to the organisation and ultimately offering them a greater sense of security at work. In a world where innovation and growth depend on synthesising information and finding patterns that no single human eye can see, job security and organisational status come from one’s contributions to personal and organisational reinvention—not from keeping information siloed for individual use only.
South African organisations should look to including knowledge management as a part of their digital ecosystems. Organisations who understand this trend as a strategic driver will reap the benefits above their peers.