One major goal of CRM is to knock down the historical silos between departments -- sales, marketing, customer service -- in organizations. Nowhere is this more of an issue than in the wealth of information a company accrues, which oftentimes is separated along departmental lines. These gems can usually only be accessed by those within those houses.
Lisa Erickson-Harris, research director at Enterprise Management Associates, explains that participants in a recent study her group undertook explained knowledge management (KM) was a key priority as they evolved to a multi-service driven operation. "The need for a link between knowledge systems is key to meeting the needs of enterprises," she says. "It is both inefficient and ineffective for any employee or business partner not to have a central source of knowledge with intelligence built into it."
Looking to bridge the gap with regard to search capabilities in organizations, Clark, N.J.-based KM provider RightAnswers unveils its latest release, Enterprise Gateway, which looks to maximize search capabilities organization-wide and give users more resources to find answers to support issues.
"Typically, when customers were coming to do self-service, they were only really going to the portal environment, so we opened up the content created in a KM system or through our own standard content," says Jeff Weinstein, president and chief executive officer of RightAnswers. "We're constantly trying to figure out and develop tools that can drive better end-user adoption."
According to Weinstein, Enterprise Gateway provides a bridge between a company's enterprise search system, RightAnswers solution, and help-desk system, creating a closed-loop internal support environment that can extend far beyond traditional information technology (IT) resources.
Weinstein goes on to explain there were three different factors in play that led to his company creating Enterprise Gateway:
- customers have more products from Google and SharePoint that they want to use in conjunction with RightAnswers' knowledge bases;
- customers are developing non-IT support content, including human resources or standard operating procedures, that they wanted to tie back to help desks; and
- the overall direction of the market moving toward more cohesion.
Additional functionality includes all answers provided within the enterprise search system can now be tied into a company's self-service tracking and analytics, allowing for organizations to measure the effectiveness of RightAnswers content regardless of where it is viewed -- the enterprise search system or otherwise. "The analytics we do are around if answers worked or not for people ... and the hope is to reduce calls to the help desk and improve its support capacity," Weinstein says. "Now all those experiences can happen through an intranet or enterprise search."
The goal is to deepen and expand its presence inside IT organizations since it can now be a part of enterprise search, as well as create partnerships with companies including Google and Autonomy, "companies that are basically looking for a great complimentary solution to their search technology," Weinstein says.
Erickson-Harris also believes that the newest offering can help RightAnswers make more inroads, noting that it is refreshing to see a vendor providing an enterprise view of knowledge management. "So often, IT and its solution partners are thinking about IT as the center of the universe," she says. "This simply isn't the reality of businesses and their respective operations. The Enterprise Gateway shows the recognition that there needs to be a connection between IT knowledge, corporate knowledge, as well as users and employees."
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