I had an interesting conversation with Melisande Middleton of Thingmap, a new "expert search" approach to knowledge management. We talked about a variety of things, but one was related to why people do or do not take advantage of the tools available to them.
The tool-centric approach to knowledge management has had a siren call to me for many years - it's fun to learn about and try out new tools that promise to make things work better for me. But why would others take up these tools? Obviously, if it is required to do your job, then the tool should fit into how one does their work. Or you might have a push from the top of the organization, but how long will that last?
But what if the new tool or idea is a support tool - or a tool that might make things easier. Why would people take advantage of it? What problem is it solving for them? Would people even think about using it?
In particular, what if people don't know they have a problem? If I have a great tool that makes searching for local experts so much easier, but I don't even think to look for them, why would I try out the new tool? As I observed with testing Atlas Recall, if I am already happy with my "system" I may not go out there and look. If I don't think to go look for experts, why would I use an "expert finder?"
So, on top of all the other challenges with developing cool technologies and getting people interested, we must consider whether people believe that they have problem you think you are solving.