• July 22, 2003
  • By David Myron, Editorial Director, CRM and Speech Technology magazines and SmartCustomerService.com

Helping Employees Help Themselves

How ineffective is your effectiveness? That's what a recent study by Collaborative Strategies LLC commissioned by ePeople aimed to find out. To determine how companies share information and provide help to employees, the study surveyed 157 respondents from companies with at least $50 million in revenue across various industries working in sales, marketing, finance, research and development, and manufacturing. One of the study's main takeaways is that more than one third of the workweek is spent answering intrusive questions, which contributes to "huge productivity losses." According to the study, 32 percent of the typical workweek is spent helping others resolve questions. Surprisingly, 54 percent of the questions in the workplace have not been answered before or documented in a knowledge base. Additionally, 88 percent of the respondents state their company relies on informal processes to get their questions answered. Therein lies the problem, the report maintains: When a knowledge management system fails, obtaining the correct answer usually involves such disruptive tasks as an email blast, instant message interruption, or asking a colleague. The solution, the report claims, is effective expertise management that includes knowledge sharing and other more efficient ways to answer questions, find expertise, or obtain necessary information in a timely fashion. "Where we see this most often is in what we call exception management, which is when you have an irate customer that's the exception where you really need to use these tools. Eighty percent of the time you can use the low-cost automated solution," says David Coleman, managing director at Collaborative Strategies LLC. Coleman adds that expertise and knowledge management solutions can quickly identify whether a similar question and answer have been recorded elsewhere in the company, such as in an online discussion thread, and can immediately bring forth the appropriate information. While 81 percent of the respondents claim the ability to identify expertise and share knowledge is important to their companies, the majority, 84 percent, maintain they do not have an expertise management and location system in place. Coleman says that although he does not know the exact market size of expertise management solutions, which is a segment of the knowledge management market, companies like ePeople and Kanisa compete in this space. "Enterprises have been slow to adopt knowledge management technologies, but based on the survey results they could clearly benefit," Coleman said in a statement. "There exists a tremendous opportunity for knowledge and expertise management vendors to deliver tangible value to the enterprise."
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