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TSIA's third annual knowledge management survey is complete, and the results clearly show how difficult it is for companies to get the people, process, and technology of knowledge management (KM) right. I am currently working on the findings, and will be publishing two research reports as well as presenting the findings in my Power Hour presentation at our upcoming TSW 2015 Service Transformations conference in Las Vegas this October. Here's a sneak preview of a few early findings.

Spotting Problem Areas in Your Knowledge Management Program

Though respondents see enormous potential in capturing and sharing knowledge, the survey data shows that few companies are rewarding employees to participate in their KM program, and only a handful of companies are actually incenting employees for positive KM outcomes. Though TSIA continues to hear from members about the importance of KM due to rising product complexity and retiring workers, the survey results indicate that few executives are monitoring KM success, with only a small percentage of companies including KM metrics in operational reviews.

With the ongoing consolidation of knowledge management, content management and collaboration, now is the time to remove the dysfunction from corporate KM programs, or the programs risk obsolescence. As an example, with members reporting it can take as much as 120 days to publish a new knowledge article, static knowledge bases may be losing employees and customers to online communities, where new questions and answers can be posted in seconds.

Not only is it taking too long to publish new knowledge, but proper knowledge maintenance is not taking place. Unless content is continually evaluated to identify outdated or poorly written articles, the knowledge base becomes filled with noise and users stop searching. As seen in the following chart, less than half of companies are regularly reviewing knowledge base content for accuracy, and more than a quarter, 27%, admit that knowledge has not been updated in a very long time.

Knowing Where to Wisely Invest in Knowledge Management

When it comes to keeping both employee and customer-facing knowledge bases relevant, there are four other areas needing attention and investment:

Content Gap Analysis

Today’s intelligent search technology, such as unified search platform, include analytics to help companies understand where content gaps exist. By analyzing search strings with no results, or searches with results that are not selected, the system can proactively notify you of useful content to be created. According to the survey, 42% of companies have no approach to identifying content gaps today, and 61% rely on employees to notify them if needed content is missing. Only 19% have reports identifying search strings with no or few results, and only 13% currently leverage an analytics tool to identify content gaps at the concept level.

Google Indexing

When TSIA surveys the community about where they personally go for product assistance, 90% of respondents said they started with a Google search. It is imperative that when employees and customers use Google to search for “how to” or troubleshooting information on your products, that your knowledge and community content is featured in search results. However, 66% of respondents said that they did not index the knowledge base, and 58% said they did not index community content. Note that indexing the content does not mean that users can access the content without registering—the content is listed in search results, but login can be required to read the full article.

Mobile Access

Both employees and customers are increasingly using smartphones and tablets to access online knowledge. To ensure ongoing use, knowledgebases must be optimized for consumption using mobile devices. Unfortunately, two thirds of companies—62% of customer facing knowledgebases and 63% of employee facing knowledgebases—have yet to make any updates to their KM system to enable access by mobile devices. Whether you recode the website using responsive design, create a mobile version of the site, or even launch apps for IOS and Android, continuing to ignore the mobile revolution will create another barrier to use of the knowledegebase.

Video Content

One only needs to look at the success of YouTube to realize that videos are an excellent way to communicate information. Following along with a video tutorial or a trouble shooting guide is much easier than reading a long, detailed procedure. Yet when surveyed about incorporating videos into the KM process, over half of companies, 53%, say that video creation is not a regular part of knowledge creation. A quarter of companies, 26%, create screen cam videos to accompany knowledge articles, and considering the free software options available to record screen cams, making this a required step in the authoring process should be considered. While 20% of respondents say they have a dedicated YouTube site for “how to” videos, this is not required. A simpler approach is just to add the video as an attachment to the knowledge base article—a feature offered by all "best of breed" knowledge platforms.

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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.

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