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How Platforms Proliferate

We often get asked what’s the best knowledge management system. But getting a new system can lead to platform proliferation without addressing root causes.

Abby Clobridge is the founder of FireOak Strategies. She works with organizations around the world to support knowledge sharing -- including open access, open data, information security -- to connect people to the data, information, and knowledge they need. You can reach Abby at [email protected]


Often when we’re talking to a new client, we get asked for our opinion about what’s the best knowledge management system. For most organizations and in most cases, the best platform for knowledge management is one that is already being used on a regular basis by most parts of the organization rather than adding yet another platform and contributing to platform proliferation, a common challenge in today’s digital environment.

While many software vendors will tout their API and integration capabilities, the reality is that API integrations are rarely bi-directional when dealing with flat files such as Word documents, spreadsheets, slide decks, and PDFs. In these cases, information/data gets pushed from one system into another, but then changes rarely get pushed back into the original platform. The result is further fragmentation, continued user frustration, and more work for IT.

Adding a new platform typically means adding another silo of information into the mix — not all staff members have access, it’s not possible to search the new system alongside of other pockets of existing information, and adding a new platform brings with it a new set of information security considerations.

So while many vendors have developed visually appealing, slick interfaces which look fantastic during a demo, adopting a new system for knowledge management rarely solves root knowledge management challenges. Instead, we see organizations spending money on a new system, expensive integrations, migrating data, training, and change management — all which end up replicating existing knowledge management challenges in another platform.

Before going down this path, make sure you’ve carefully considered what problems you’re trying to solve, defining the requirements for a new platform, and determining what benefits your organization will gain. Otherwise, a significant investment in technology likely won’t address the underlying knowledge management problems and won’t result in the sought after transformation.

How Platforms Proliferate

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FireOak Strategies is a boutique consulting firm that helps organizations manage, secure, and share their knowledge. We bring clarity to complexity, look for elegant and simple solutions, and make sure that organizations are focused on solving the right problems. Learn more…

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