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Knowledge management and the future of work

Technology will change the way people perform work and impact the operating model of organisations. Bhalla, Dyrcks and Strack (2017) states: “a tidal way of change is coming that will soon make the way we work almost unrecognizable to today’s business leaders. In an age of rapidly evolving technologies, business models, demographics, and even workplace attitudes – all shifting concurrently – change is not only constant but also exponential in its pace and scope.” These changes result from the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) and its emphasis on technological innovation and digital productivity in organisations. Traditionally, all managerial and operational areas in organisations have been enabled and supported by knowledge management (KM) in the form of a codification or personalisation strategy. However, in the 4IR organisation it is acknowledged that “knowledge” will be in the form of “big data” which is received by sensors and transmitted to actuators and can be analysed in a cloud-based cyber-physical system. This requires re-conceptualisation on the relevance of knowledge management in supporting the functional areas of organisations as well as the manner in which knowledge management manifests. More importantly on the applicability and relevancy of knowledge management in an age where humans are seamlessly connected through ubiquitous technologies. What will the role of knowledge management be in organisations and societies where humans will become redundant because of the ability of machines to perform both repetitive but also highly complex work? It is evident that the manifestation of knowledge management will change radically in 4IR organisations. Change is imminent and knowledge management needs to evolve or subside into a cyber-physical realm. Hence, a literature review and three case studies reflect on the interrelationship between technology and knowledge management within the context of the 4IR organisation.