Anjana Rahan on Knowledge Management

Intro Music

Ryan Weber: Welcome to 10-Minute Tech Comm. This is Ryan Weber at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, and I’m pleased to welcome today’s guest.

Anjana Rajan: Hello everyone. I’m Anjana Rajan. I’ve been in the information architecture and knowledge management space for over 13 years. I’m very excited to share some of my insights and experience with you on today’s podcast.

Ryan: I invited Anjana on the podcast because, quite frankly, I wasn’t entirely sure what a knowledge architect does, but it sounded like a job with connections to technical communication, information architecture, and other fields that I’m interested in. So I wanted to know more. We had a great conversation about how she got into this work, the kinds of things she does, and how she fits into her organization. I hope you enjoy this interview. 

Interview Begins

Ryan: Welcome to the podcast, Anjana. We are really excited to hear from you about a job that I don’t know a whole lot about. And so actually what I would love to hear first is if you could just briefly describe your job as a knowledge architect.

Anjana: As a knowledge architect, I help build and grow knowledge sharing solutions in an organization for creating incredible customer experiences. I pretty much act as the technical systems owner and designer for our knowledge initiatives. I also research new technologies, processes that contribute to improving knowledge strategy. And, I take a lead on various knowledge, project management and deployment initiatives, create timelines for systems, et cetera.

And in addition to that, basically. I help with improving the taxonomy and metadata management programs, also provide some oversight on existing programs and identify opportunities for automating various new solutions and also serve as a liaison sometimes for third party vendor relationships. Fundamentally, my job is to design spaces that encourage knowledge to be created, captured, shared efficiently.

Ryan: That’s a good description of your role. In this role, what kinds of skills do you need or find useful?

Anjana: I think in addition to the experience or skills needed for knowledge management, there are also skills like enterprise content management and information architecture, content systems design. Those are some of the typical skills that are required of a knowledge architect. Most importantly, the proficiency to take high level business goals and objectives and create project plans and execute on the business strategy. Some other skills that are very useful are ability to communicate highly technical concepts to a non-technical audience or stakeholders and, um, influence and negotiate and be a part of the change management.

In addition to that, I think, you know, experiences leading some complex programs that involve cross functional stakeholders and partners is a nice to have skill. Most importantly, I think, is the entrepreneurial attitude and desire to kind of try new tools and process with the objective to overall improve the knowledge sharing experiences.

Ryan: Well, thank you very much. It’s, uh, it’s a very complex set of skills and it’s an interesting role. You talked about this a little bit in describing your job, but I’m curious about how you fit into the larger organization that you work with.

Anjana: Like I mentioned before, I think as a knowledge architect, I work closely with various cross functional stakeholder teams, understand their information needs, and provide expertise for initiatives that require information organization and access and collection and creation and editing, etc., of knowledge assets.

In addition to that, you know, I also help with creating strategies to capture, disseminate knowledge effectively across the organization. The role is very critical basically to improve system and content efficiencies, all towards promoting knowledge sharing in an organization.

Ryan: Great. So if someone was interested in this kind of a role, in becoming a knowledge architect, what advice would you have for them?

Anjana: I think the first piece of advice I would have is to be prepared, to be prepared to revolutionize the way people connect with knowledge, and oftentimes the solutions provided are not what people are accustomed to in terms of an experience. So just being prepared to revolutionize the way people connect with knowledge is an important one.

In addition to that, you know, be creative, not afraid to roll up your sleeves and improvise on solutions and then challenge the status quo and be willing and eager to learn new technologies, new concepts. And I guess those are the key advice I would give somebody who wants to be in a knowledge architect role. And of course, to have the necessary technical skills that are needed for the job.

Ryan: And you had talked a little bit about those skills before. What kind of a background do you have that got you into knowledge architecture in terms of a degree or a career path?

Anjana: Yeah, my career path is very atypical, or maybe, maybe interesting. I started my career as a programmer/writer. So I wrote technical documentation for many years. And my background in education is in computer science and applications. So I have a master’s degree in computer science and applications. My career trajectory has been going from software programming to technical communications in diverse companies for various software and hardware technology companies and then shifting to where my language skills as well as my technical skills could kind of come together.

It was around the time when the information architecture skills were necessary and the profession was new, so I felt that it was a good transition for me to leverage both my flair for language as well as the technical background and skills I had acquired and the knowledge I had acquired from writing about technologies, then became an information architect and have been one for quite a few years now. Like I said, more than a decade.

Ryan: Terrific. Well, thank you so much for telling us about your work and your role. I always find this really interesting. So thank you for joining us today.

Anjana: Thank you very much for having me.

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Episode 10