Web 2.0 Collaboration Technologies Seen Mitigating Disruption of Departing Workforce

Manufacturing Insights predicts advances knowledge management solutions will help ease challenge of knowledge attrition caused by demographic shifts

Framingham, MA — November 19, 2008 — Manufacturers across different industry verticals face a growing challenge of knowledge attrition caused by demographic shifts, and these companies increasingly are going to need to rely on "Web 2.0"-based knowledge management solutions to mitigate disruptions caused by a departing workforce, according to a new report from Manufacturing Insights.

Manufacturing Insights reports that the merging of several factors, including an aging workforce, an ever increasingly reliable commercial Internet and an evolved technology set of knowledge management (KM) tools, makes the current knowledge management iteration different from collaboration technology movements of the past.

The trend of knowledge deficit as a result of workforce attrition caused by the aging and departing workforce is consistent across manufacturing sectors such as aerospace, defense (government agencies), automotive, high tech and the energy/utilities sector, Manufacturing Insights reports in its study, "Web 2.0 — The Inflection Point for Knowledge Management."

The report offers context for those tasked with defining, structuring and deploying knowledge management strategies, through the exploitation of Web 2.0 collaboration technologies. Manufacturing Insights believes that the confluence of business drivers, demographic realities and emergence of commercially viable Web 2.0 technologies will make future versions of knowledge management more likely to succeed than previous efforts.

"The coalescence of the aging workforce and the increasing viability of Web 2.0 technologies will drive corporate knowledge management initiatives. These initiatives will assist manufacturers confronting the current and future challenges presented by knowledge deficit and personnel attrition," said Benjamin Friedman, research manager at Manufacturing Insights and author of the report.

In addition, the report examines how the landscape of knowledge management applications has evolved. According to Friedman, corporations should consider pursuing knowledge management initiatives that are hybrid in nature, as opposed to traditionally rigid, highly structured technical knowledge management approaches of the past.

To be successful, organizations should focus on knowledge management initiatives that offer a mix of structure and prescriptive elements such as case-based reasoning, combined with informal solutions that offer information flow at the speed of thought interactivity, such as Instant Messenger (IM). This approach to knowledge management delivers agility in decision making and knowledge reuse opportunities over the long term.