In order to provide complete functionality, this web site needs your explicit consent to store browser cookies. If you don't allow cookies, you may not be able to use certain features of the web site including but not limited to: log in, buy products, see personalized content, switch between site cultures. It is recommended that you allow all cookies.

This content is currently only available to TSIA members.

If you believe you are seeing this message in error,
please let us know.


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.

What's Driving Knowledge Management Convergence?

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:

#1. Rising Product Complexity

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.

#2. Organizational Convergence

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.

#3. The Social Enterprise

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.


Knowledge Management Convergence Depends on a Good Knowledge Sharing Culture

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.

knowledge sharing culture  

(Click image to enlarge.)
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.


Learn How to Improve Your Company's Knowledge Sharing Culture at TSW

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:

  1. Make the decision to change
  2. Codify your cultural decision in writing
  3. Change your hiring practices to reflect your (newly) stated values
  4. Improve your onboarding
  5. Measure using the right metrics
  6. Create a sustainable reinforcement plan
  7. Sell your success upwards

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!

Download Now

John Ragsdale

About Author John Ragsdale

John Ragsdale is a distinguished researcher and the vice president of technology ecosystems for TSIA. His area of expertise is in creating strategies for improving the service operations and overall customer experience by leveraging innovative technology. John works closely with TSIA’s partner ecosystem, identifying leading and emerging technology vendors whose products help solve the key business challenges faced by TSIA members. He is also author of the book, Lessons Unlearned, which chronicles his 25-year career inside the customer service industry.

John's favorite topics to discuss