Knowledge has never had as short a half-life as it does now. However, the cause of that is also part of the solution.
Digitalisation is generating new technologies, business models and above all philosophies. In mechanical engineering, for example, digital engineering and the platform economy are increasingly coming to the fore. Against this backdrop, it is essential for employees to be flexible and continuously develop their skills. However, if they are going to achieve that, they need the scope to do so. If a company can successfully establish a comprehensive learning culture, it will achieve much more than simply keeping in-house expertise up-to-date, because enabling employees in this way always has a lot to do with appreciation, too. When employees discover that their employers are explicitly investing in their professional development, this has a positive effect on motivation and the working environment, as well. The thing is, ongoing training is one of the areas where the benefits of digitalisation can come to full fruition.
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Knowledge management based on networking
There are currently all kinds of different options for training, ranging from in-house workshops or seminars and specially made videos and learning platforms to “on-demand” digital offerings from external service providers. When it comes to internal initiatives, it is worthwhile using tests and pilots to try out specific formats on a small scale, before rolling them out on a larger scale if they are successful. By the way, there is no need to draw too great a distinction between “digital” and “analogue” knowledge transfer. For example, if an on-site induction course has proven successful in equipping employees with the knowledge they need, it may be helpful to adapt it, record it, and make it available as a video file. It’s as easy as that to take advantage of one of the key benefits digitalisation holds for training and knowledge management – they are no longer tied to a single place or time, and are therefore exceptionally flexible.
In the light of agile project management methods such as Scrum, interdisciplinary thinking is becoming increasingly relevant.
Even cloud services such as Google Drive can be used to share knowledge in the form of text, image, audio and video files very easily. Setting up a dedicated Wiki – a kind of digital encyclopaedia that users can both read and edit – goes a huge step further. This is also an opportunity to enable employees by allowing them to position themselves as experts in-house. It can be very helpful for new staff in particular to have a Wiki as a point of reference – especially if it is packed with valuable information that can be updated on an ongoing basis. Workflows and basic information can also be archived in this facility. In the light of agile project management methods such as Scrum, interdisciplinary thinking is becoming increasingly relevant. Since valuable knowledge is both centrally available and can also be explored in terms of all its complex connections and links, having a dedicated company Wiki really pays off.
Enabling employees and supporting them all the way to the work bench
Another way of enabling employees is to use external e-learning opportunities. These are a logical extension of the conventional training that companies have long been offering their customers. Now, however, they come without the addition of travel costs, and staff can undertake the training whenever is convenient to them. In mechanical engineering, for example, there is the item Academy, which provides free access to a wide range of content, including interactive online training that enables users to acquire knowledge relating to a whole variety of subjects, such as lean production and ESD. The step-by-step training offerings, on the other hand, are designed to walk users through the assembly, installation or maintenance of item products. Ideally, workers are able to take the instructions with them to their work bench on a tablet. The knowledge acquisition and the hands-on experience thus complement each other perfectly. While the other training formats require the free item user account, the step-by-step trainings are directly available.
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