Knowledge management used to be a topic just for customer support. Specifically, it was about how to capture resolution information for every problem solved, so that the next time it occurred, no one had to waste time researching the problem and resolution all over again. Today, there are several drivers that are forcing companies to realize that knowledge management isn't just for support, but is a company-wide initiative with enough ROI for everybody, from support, to professional services, managed services, development, product management, and more.
While there are many factors leading to other functions within an organization to embrace the benefits of knowledge management, here are 3 of the biggest drivers TSIA has observed:
This is an ongoing theme we see here at TSIA, so much so that it was the topic of one of our books, Complexity Avalanche. As products become increasingly sophisticated, organizations across the enterprise need to pool knowledge resources to better anticipate and resolve customer issues rising from onboarding, implementation, and break/fix.
The walls between formerly separate lines of service are falling, with customer success programs forcing employees across all service lines to better communicate and share information to boost adoption, renewals, and expand selling.
A decade ago, knowledge management meant a standalone knowledge base. Today, knowledge may be captured in a knowledge base, online communities or discussion forums, blogs, tribal knowledge bases for customer input, a scrolling news feed like Twitter or Chatter, etc. There is more knowledge available, but it is dispersed across the enterprise in multiple systems and threads.
Customer success programs are driving communication across service lines to boost adoption, renewals, and expansion.
In my annual knowledge management (KM) survey, I ask companies “If your organization was sharing knowledge as well as they possibly could, it would improve the productivity of your team by how much?” The results show that companies recognize the potential of strong KM, with 34% saying a 20-30% improvement is possible, and 40% saying more than 30% improvement could be achieved.
Having been involved in implementing KM systems and giving advice on KM tools and processes since the 1990s, there's one element I've found that is the biggest determinant to KM success: corporate culture. In companies that reward employees for being the only one with the answer, knowledge hoarding is the norm. When executives promote and reward knowledge sharing, KM programs have a much higher likelihood of success.
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Source: TSIA 2016 Knowledge Management Survey
Source: TSIA 2016 Knowledge Management Survey
While cultures are evolving, nearly a third of companies rate their knowledge sharing culture on a scale of 1-10 as 5 or below, with 1 being “Share knowledge and others take credit,” and 10 being “Leaders set the example and reward knowledge sharing.” So clearly there remains work left to do.
A successful knowledge management program depends on corporate knowledge sharing culture.
In my keynote at the Technology Services World conference in Las Vegas last October, Overcoming Barriers to Knowledge Sharing, I outlined a seven point checklist to changing corporate culture:
To continue this dialog, I will be moderating a panel at our upcoming TSW conference in San Diego this May, “Converging Knowledge Management: Enabling Enterprise Knowledge Sharing,” with some of the smartest people in the KM world: David Kay, Principal, DB Kay & Associates; Randy Mysliviec, President & CEO, RTM Consulting; and Phil Verghis, CEO, Klever. We will be talking about the challenges and opportunities for knowledge management beyond support, and how to successfully introduce KM practices across the enterprise.
If your company is doing a great job sharing knowledge across the enterprise, consider submitting a STAR Award application for the category, “Best Practices in Knowledge Management,” which is one of the few categories open to all service disciplines.
I look forward to seeing you at TSW in San Diego on May 1 to continue to discussion about embracing knowledge management across the enterprise. As always, thanks for reading!
Post Date: February 28, 2017
John Ragsdale is the distinguished vice president of technology research, for TSIA. His area of expertise is in creating strategies for improving the service operations and overall customer experience by leveraging innovative technology. Ragsdale drives TSIA's highly regarded technology research agenda, delivering insightful, thought-leadership research and analysis on the most pressing business issues facing services leaders to enable them to better plan and execute their service strategies. He is also author of the book, Lessons Unlearned, which chronicles his 25-year career inside the customer service industry.
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