Finding the Value of Findability
Content management (CM) solutions and processes offer businesses a scalable framework to create, store, publish, and archive content across Intranet, Web, and print channels. What they don't do well is help employees and customers find the right content when they need it. This "knowing-doing" gap in enterprise content can be bridged by CM solutions working in tandem with knowledge management (KM) solutions.
The "Knowing-Doing" Gap in Enterprise Content
Enterprises that have invested in good CM tools end up with a well-implemented process for creating, reviewing, approving, storing, retrieving, and archiving digital content. Therefore, they have content to address most needs of their employees and customers within the CMS--the system may even "know" the answer to almost every inquiry from an employee or customer. However, the only piece of this CM process that actually delivers business ROI is the retrieval process. Most CM tools, unfortunately, equate retrieval to search. Search, as an access method, does not work well in Intranet content frameworks. (See the March 2009 Viewpoint, "Beyond Search")
As a result, while these companies manage to reduce the cost of developing and managing content, they continue to struggle with delivering the right content to any user--be it customer, partner, supplier, or employee--at the moment of interaction. This "knowing-doing" gap usually stays unfulfilled.
The Fate of CM--Without KM
Most CM investments, not surprisingly, are justified based on IT-driven, lower total cost of ownership (TCO) benefits, whereas most KM investments aim for business-driven higher return on investment (ROI) benefits. Large organizations have invested heavily in CM technology and process, but have not bothered to augment their CM investment with a complementary KM capability. Typically, large teams working on content creation, approval, and aggregation make a mountain of content available for the enterprise and its customers.
When we ask them what ROI they get from their CM investments, we get a surprised reaction: "CM is not about ROI, it is a required investment," they say. "Every enterprise must have a CM strategy and process." But they have never really thought about quantifying the business benefits of CM. Maybe they are able to deliver better quality content to their audience, but they are not sure. They do know that they are able to manage content assets more efficiently.
We're persistent in our quest to uncover more information about a company's CM implemetation:
- Do you know how your employees and customers actually use all this content?
- Can they find the content they need? What content do they find useful?
- Are there gaps in what content they are looking for and what you are delivering?"
In response, they are convinced that we are the CFO's spies--someone who wants to squeeze ROI out of an IT project. The truth is: CM is not meant to deliver ROI; KM is. KM leverages CM content assets, while focusing on delivering measurable business benefits like improved first-call resolution rates, reduced training time, reduced escalation, and improved customer experience in the contact center, branch offices, Web site, and other knowledge portals.
KM Makes CM Investment Pay Off
KM delivers the all-important findability for a range of user types and inquiry types. It makes all the content investment (tools, people, processes) pay off in an organization. Especially mission-critical in customer contact centers, findability can unleash business value at the "moment of truth" in business-to-customer interactions.
Content is valuable only if users are able to get to it. To make content accessible and available, KM solutions provide an array of access methods to match the combination of inquiry and inquirer types. For instance, an expert user who wants to navigate through content much more efficiently could use power search, topic browsing, and bookmarks extensively. On the other hand, a novice (and we are all novices outside our domain of expertise within any organization) could lean on guided help, driven by case-based reasoning (CBR) and dynamic FAQs to get to the right answer. And, customers who are visiting the company Web site may get to the same content through a friendly chatbot that can communicate in natural language.
KM solutions also store and analyze usage (e.g., successful and failed sessions, user feedback, etc.) to provide adaptive feedback and automated suggestions through reports and triggered process workflows to content authors and access method developers. This dynamic feedback and measurement process helps keep the content fresh and focuses authors on the most pressing user needs, determined through detailed access pattern profiling.
If CM is all about creating a warehouse full of well-developed content assets, then KM is all about the merchandising process for users to be able to get to the appropriate content and knowledge that they need when they need it--quickly and reliably.
About the Author
Ashutosh Roy (firstname.lastname@example.org) is chairman and chief executive officer for eGain Communications Corporation, a leading provider of multichannel customer service and knowledge management software, delivered on-premises or on-demand.
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Knowledge Management in the Public Sector
Incentives used by private industries to promote knowledge sharing among their workers are inadequate to encourage the same level of sharing among workers in the public sector. Tighter budgets preclude most direct monetary incentives, and the level of delays and red tape dealt with by the average government worker can make knowledge sharing seem more of a bother than a boon. However, there are things that KM advocates in the public sector can do to encourage enthusiastic knowledge sharing among their workers.
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