How new technologies aid knowledge management

GSA's McClure says social media, open government efforts make it easier to share knowledge

Social networking associated with Web 2.0 and open government can help the assimilation of knowledge management in agencies. But it also creates new challenges, particularly related to control, David McClure, associate administrator of the General Services Administration's Office of Citizen Services and Communications told attendees at an open government conference.

McClure spoke during a luncheon May 5 at the Open Government & Innovations Conference held in Washington, D.C. by 1105 Government Information Group. The conference ran simultaneously with the Knowledge Management Conference and the Cloud Computing Summit.

There are a lot interesting intersections among business intelligence, information management and knowledge management, McClure said.

They include self-service knowledge workers and consumers; simplified user interfaces and plain language; the co-existence of exploration and free-form analytics; and information technology departments being pushed to develop with simpler, low-effort and agile application designs.

“This is the self-service age,” McClure said. Rather than pushing data to people, systems need to allow them to find what they want -- in the way they want and where they want it, he said.

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The increasing translation of technical documents and information into plain language also is a plus. Too often, McClure said, government agencies will take a printed document or policy and park it on the Web.  However, if the document was not written for Web consumption, most people who find it won't necessarily understand the technical language.

Agile software development, which has to do with making applications portable, can help, he said. One agency may develop a project that, once complete, it could share with other agencies. “If I am a CIO in government, I am really being pushed to develop simpler, more accurate, agile applications – because that is the game plan,” McClure said. 

CIOs are also seeing their attention shift from infrastructure to information, he said.

“We still have a lot of focus on technology,” he said.  "But I believe we are entering an era where infrastructure and cloud computing storage becomes less complicated.”

All of these intersecting trends have ramifications for IT projects.  Previously, a lot of effort was put into massive IT projects – often split into smaller projects but still managed as a mega-project – that went on for years and sometimes never reached completion. 

It’s a different environment now, spurred by mandates from the Federal Chief Information Officer’s office. Things have to be done with continuous change in mind, McClure said. 

“Unfortunately, our governance process is still set up like mega-projects,” he said.  For the most part, agency managers still expect absolute certainty in project design and don’t feel comfortable with things done in shorter increments, McClure said.

However, efforts now to examine projects that are in the red and come up with an action plan to put projects back on track is having an impact on project performance, he said.

This is good change because applications that power government’s business intelligence, information management and knowledge management initiatives have historically been blockbuster, long-term data warehousing environments that take years to see change.

Additionally, agencies need to move away from static reporting to more practical intelligence focused on real-time collaboration and problem solving, McClure said. 

“We now have the technology environment that allows us to see things this way; we just have to culturally move faster than we have in the past,” he said.


About the Author

Rutrell Yasin is is a freelance technology writer for GCN.


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