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Transfer of knowledge: internet versus intranet

Last week I was in a business networking event presenting to a keen listener what Simple + Smart does. The listener asked a fairly typical question: ’Why do I need my company to have a Transfer of Knowledge plan, since everyone in my organisation just looks for any required information on the web?’

Of course, nowadays, any general information is to be found on the internet. However, as I pointed out to my listener: ‘What about the confidential information? What about the specific know-how and procedures of an organisation? Is this kind of information accessible by the public eye?, and if so Really????’ The listener couldn’t help but get the point of exactly what I was talking about and realise that while standard information is indeed accessible to everyone, his company specific intellectual property is not, and furthermore, absolutely and definitely should not be.

So I would like to talk today about the access we have on the internet versus the way we look for specific information on the intranet.

As much as the web is easy to access, and almost any kind of information you may need is there for the viewing, not only do you have to worry about the accuracy and currency of the information, but it can take a considerable amount of time to filter millions of ‘search results’ that the search engines provide you with.

On the other hand, a company’s intranet is often not easily accessible, even for those working within the organisation, with the highest levels of permission. People within organisations tend to store information that is accessible via an intranet, but relatively no one makes it actually easy to access. Options such as having keywords, indexes, and then when you actually read documents, having them in plain, clear English seem often to be lacking. Documentation can be too technical, too obscure, too unclear on the contextual nature of the information, – that is if you even manage to find it in the first place.

It amazes me how little attention can be paid to the accessibility, accuracy and maintenance of a company’s intranet. This is the lifeblood of the organisation, or should be, and as such must be kept clean of any toxins and fed constantly with fresh nutrients.

This is where having a dedicated Transfer of Knowledge project comes in handy. The project scope can involve tracking down all current documentation, mapping all current processes, and then ensuring the information is accurate, up to date, and in a consistent format. Once this is achieved developing/configuring your intranet tool, or even internal wiki, to allow for fast accurate searches within the pool of data is made possible. Of course as with any organism there is no real way to just ‘set and forget’. Your intranet needs to be continuously monitored, cleansed and infused with the latest information, retaining the consistency of format.

Once you have the lifeblood flowing in a healthy, consistent fashion you can go wild with how your staff utilise and access this information. Today’s world is all about mobility, tools such as iBooks on the iPad®, provide avenues for staff to tap into the internal wealth of information, with the speed that they have become accustomed to when searching via the internet.

The internet will never be completely replaced by your intranet, no matter how healthy your system is, and nor should it be. The internet working in conjunction with a healthy intranet is the ultimate goal, and can provide amazing benefits from productivity gains.

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