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The SKN million-dollar question: What's in it for me?

You'd be hard pressed to find an organization investing in some technology without strong support that the technology will provide ROI. Most organizations want an answer to the million-dollar question, What's in it for me?

It's a question recently posed by David Tebbutt in his article for Personal Computer World. He presents social knowledge management and other similar functions in an "I scratch your back, you scratch mine" light. Meaning, sharing knowledge and wisdom is not just an act of altruism, it provides real benefit to both the provider and recipient of that knowledge.

When someone can make information more relevant and of higher value, it in turn makes them more relevant and of higher value. And really, who doesn’t want to increase their own value and worth within their company these days?

In essence, social knowledge networks are a facilitator of this knowledge altruism. They connect vetted information with the advice of colleagues, which serves to make information more robust, people smarter, and organizations better equipped to get the most from their information and human assets.

Tebbutt also says, "An organization needs to choose whether to keep the social interactions within a controlled boundary or to let the outside world in." It's worth noting that a closed system within an organization is often not a choice, but a necessity for those that need to build, maintain, and manage social knowledge in an organized and secure fashion.

But smart organizations use a strategy to control who provides what knowledge to prevent a Wikipedia-like environment, where information lacks veracity and non-experts provide bad information. With such a security model in place, organizations are on the right track to realizing knowledge altruism.

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