If you’ve ever worked for a company with more than a few employees, you know how hard it can be to get the information necessary for you to do your job effectively. In startups, employees generally have the benefit of just walking down the hallway and poking their head in someone’s office, for just about everything, from putting in a quick leave request with the HR, to getting an answer for a customer query.
For the rest of us working in larger companies, information gathering is a challenge. COVID-19 has exacerbated this problem by transitioning the workplace from onsite to remote. The reality is that for many companies, this is siloed knowledge saved on local PC workstations either in office or otherwise.
Why does strong knowledge management within an organization matter? In a survey published in the book Critical Knowledge Transfer, 53 percent of C-suite respondents said that knowledge-related costs of losing key employees falls somewhere between $50K-$299K per employee. Another 11 percent estimated it was more than $1 million. Others couldn’t provide a figure, saying that the cost was “incalculable” or “priceless.”
Beyond business metrics, effective knowledge management (KM) just makes employees more effective at their job. To illustrate KM in action, this article explores a common tool known as an AI-powered Knowledge Based System (KBS).
‘Knowledge Management (KM) is the process of capturing, developing, sharing, and effectively using organizational knowledge. It refers to a multi-disciplined approach to achieving organizational objectives by making the best use of knowledge.’
When people have questions they need answers to, KBS is your one-stop shop. One that serves as a master repository of all company information in a single place. Taking the expertise of your various departmental functions, you can create a long-lasting haven for both internal and external stakeholders to access as per company policies.
As a digital tool adapting to a growing remote workforce, KBS provides a few benefits like:
- Documentation – When information is easy to access and accurate, it reduces the need for coworkers to interrupt each other with emails, chats, and support tickets. Employees and especially support teams spend less time answering repetitive questions, freeing them up to focus on more important—and more profitable—work.
- Improve decision-making – When employees share their experiences, lessons-learned, and research on a searchable knowledge system, others can access and review that information in order to consider multiple pieces of data and differing viewpoints before making decisions.
- Integrate knowledge as a common platform (standardize processes) = If you’ve ever played the telephone game, you know exactly how distorted information gets when communicated by word-of-mouth and in silos. With documented and shared processes, it’s easy to make sure that everyone is on the same page and following approved procedures.
- Available when humans aren’t – Effective knowledge management allows support teams to resolve employee and customer requests quickly and whenever it is needed. Employees are able to stay happy and productive, and customers place more trust in the company, which makes them more likely to purchase.
To put things in perspective for how the benefits of KBS play out in the real-world, let’s craft a common scenario in the employee life: customer service.
Jane receives about 100 customer service calls in a single shift. Many of those customer questions are the same. “What’s your refund policy?” “How can I cancel my account?” “When do I need to pay my next bill?” And the list goes on.
She also gets some more uncommon requests. “I’d like to update my account information.” “I need to make a claim.” “I’d like to request a delay in payment.” These requests are more complex and personalized.
Given the breath of customer services inquiries Jane is hard-pressed to be a super-woman around the clock for her shifts. There may be times where she doesn’t know the answers and will have to hunt them down. This is the worst position to be in because not only is Jane on an adventure searching for answers, while her customer is stuck on a long holding time, but there is no guarantee she could come back with a concrete resolution for the customer. This is what it must feel like to be at an amusement park on the “un-fun” ride!
Plug in the AI-Powered KBS, and things change up a little.
Now when Jane needs to find an answer, she just goes to the KBS, for quick answers, whenever she needs them. And here’s the holy grail of it all. The KBS is not helping just Jane, but her customers too. Forget about the ride line, everyone gets access to the Fast Track to happiness!
Alright, so to this point we see the value of KBS but what are the components that make it up and why the “AI” part? Buckle up, because we are about to go into “techlore”.
Coined as KM in the 1980s, knowledge management has been a recognized discipline since the early 1990s. It formed as a result of globalization where people were walking ‘out the door’ with their work experience (i.e. knowledge). Early practices of KM tried to document everything, but this proved fatal for several reasons:
- Much of the information was not essential and was buried away in a complex filing structure.
- “Lost” information eventually becomes outdated.
- Strong “cultural” resistance to giving away knowledge since it was seen as power, i.e., job security.
Companies sought to adopt KM technologies to assist; but, this led to limited success. The main issue was because of the reliance on the technology with little regard to the employee’s well-being. Early tech proved to be hard to use and many feared it would simply replace them in the workplace.
With the advent of artificial intelligence (AI) into the KBS ecosystem, these KMs were transformed into easier tools that augmented employee activities. Let’s look at some of the modern components of an AI-Powered KBS today.
- Central Database – There is a single database existing on the Cloud, that integrates with all the company software. These integrations may include payment gateways, ATS, CRM, and calendars.
- Segmentation & Filter Modules – These configurable features of a KBS allow information to be relevant, up-to-date, and gated for the appropriate user accessing it. A common module is the SEARCH bar.
- Omni-Channel Connectivity – As a digital tool, end-users can access a KBS through multiple ways including cell phones, social media, and kiosks.
- Natural Language Processing (NLP) – KBS can attempt to predict your request and offer options as you type in keywords.
A common place you will find AI-Powered KBS is in chatbot technology. A platform like Bluefish.AI can implement all these components, empowering employees with the many benefits discussed earlier.
KBS has its limitations as it doesn’t store tacit knowledge. There is no known solution for capturing abstract knowledge like intuition or those watercooler conversations between employees. That is exactly why it’s important to keep human workers in KM actively involved! There’s no doubt that KBS is helpful, but no company is omniscient.
If you would like to know more about AI-Powered KBS and how it might fit inside your unique business processes, please reach out to us.