The keystone of a knowledge management strategy
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Posted by Scott Parker

In 2020, 750,000 organizations were using Slack1. An ADP Research Institute report found that the share of gig workers at US companies grew 15% in the last decade2. And according to a survey of 8,800 employees by collaboration platform Fuze, 60% said they want a hybrid work situation that offers both remote and in-office flexibility3.

What does this have to do with knowledge management? In one word, dispersion.

The adoption of collaboration tools, growth in freelance/third-party contractors, and proliferation of remote work have created so many more places for valuable knowledge to spread—and in most cases for large enterprises—to hide. This is, of course, on top of the voluminous datasets that organizations already amass from conducting business as usual.

To help organizations keep track of this data and information dispersion, a strong knowledge management strategy built on the foundation of a robust search solution is key.

What is a knowledge management strategy?

A knowledge management strategy is a specific plan for how a company will manage information, data, and knowledge to improve productivity, foster innovation, and meet company objectives.

Building out a knowledge management strategy requires thorough scoping, the right technology, and top-down buy-in. The thirty-second summary of strategy development looks something like this:

  • Understand where your data silos are and how and through whom your information flows
  • Scope out the tools and investments needed to unify and enrich your data and implement all parts of your strategy
  • Educate stakeholders as to the benefits of a knowledge management strategy and ensure buy-in by aligning it directly with company goals
  • Build a training and incentive program for employees to ensure adoption

But you can’t run blind. To leverage your company’s store of knowledge to improve the bottom line, you must first be able to access it in all the places it lives and make sense of it. This is where intelligent search comes in.

Search is the keystone of a knowledge management strategy

At the heart of knowledge management is the need to help the right people find the right information in the right context. None of this can happen without search. Decades ago, everything might have been contained in a few spreadsheets or databases. Finding what you needed was a matter of looking in one or two places. But today, information is stored across many different platforms, formats, and languages. Intelligent search is the way to unify access to this disparate structured and unstructured data and bring forward the most relevant information without extra effort on the searcher’s part. That last part is key to wide-scale adoption—making the finding and sharing of knowledge easy and quick—is crucial to improving the flow of information.

Thanks to advancements in natural language processing and AI, there are intelligent search solutions, like Sinequa, that can index and extract meaning from just about anything and anywhere, from presentations and PDFs to Slack conversations, and across apps, Sharepoint sites, extranets, and more. The beauty of these search platforms is that they use your existing systems—no extra integration is required—and they give employees one place where they can access all information and insights.

Intelligent search breaks down silos and also builds up productivity, helping employees spend less time looking for information and more time problem-solving or innovating. Enterprise search solutions like Sinequa are also customizable to your unique business needs and built to continuously learn, improving its results each time someone interacts with it.

Putting knowledge management into action

A successful knowledge management strategy goes beyond being able to access all of your information. It lies in being able to turn that information into insights. This is where many KM strategies fall short today. According to Deloitte’s 2020 Global Human Capital Trends survey , 8 out of 10 of respondents felt their organizations needed to do a better job tying knowledge to action. Seventy-nine percent wanted to do better at surfacing knowledge to inform innovations and launch new products and services4.

With intelligent search, data isn’t just discovered, it is understood. This makes it possible to deliver the most relevant results for each query, as well as to make connections along topical lines and surface subject matter experts. Searchers get far more than an answer to their question—they get a dossier of related, actionable information to drive meaningful discovery and problem solving.

Take, for example, a manufacturing customer support center. For a given call, a support representative might have to log in to a dozen or more different systems to get customer history, answer a question, locate a part, troubleshoot a problem, or find an expert. With a knowledge management strategy that employs intelligent search, that representative can find everything they need from one place, along with additional related information that could help them upsell or cross-sell, renew a contract, or share valuable intel with other associated accounts.

Knowledge management strategies don’t begin and end with search, but they certainly can’t succeed without it, a fact that is increasingly evident to KM and IT leaders. According to a recent Sinequa/APQC survey, 41% of KM and IT leaders expect to significantly increase investment in search and findability in the next 12 to 18 months. What’s the state of search and findability in your organization?

To learn more about the impact of search on knowledge management, read our research report with APQC.

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