In a recent guest blog for Transversal, I contrasted the concept of “corporate memory” with another kind of knowledgebase – the bleakly-named “corporate landfill.”
In this blog, Heather Richards, CEO at Transversal, writes about what determines whether a knowledgebase becomes a valuable corporate memory or a neglected asset, and how an automated, self-service knowledgebase can provide return on investment far in excess of its setup costs.
Heather Richards, CEO, Transversal
A knowledgebase works in a similar way to our own memories, surfacing information when recall is needed. However, a knowledgebase is more reliable than human memory – every piece of knowledge can be looked up and verified, enabling customer service agents to avoid depending on their own memories. With the knowledgebase as an extension of their own memories, agents train faster, answer questions more confidently and consistently, and are able to free up time for higher-value activities.
But what determines whether a knowledgebase becomes a valuable corporate memory or a neglected landfill? On the surface, there ‘s no difference between a “corporate memory” and a “corporate landfill.” Both are collections of organizational knowledge – the first, an automated, self-service knowledgebase that provides information users need, when they need it, in an intuitive way. While in the second, content is entered and then left to decay.
Memory vs. landfill
The difference between them lies in how they are used, the technology enabling this use, and the organizational culture in which they exist. “Corporate memory” is actively supported at all levels of the organization and is used in real situations by real people whose needs shape it and keep it relevant. “Corporate landfill”, on the other hand, is never fully integrated into the organization’s culture or business processes, which means that people never get into the habit of consulting and maintaining it. It remains a silo of knowledge, rarely consulted or maintained, and gradually becomes outdated.
A well-functioning corporate memory not only achieves return on investment (ROI), but can also deliver additional profit. More than just a repository of information, corporate memory can be part of an overall project of business transformation in which information of all kinds is digitized, centralized, and simplified. Such projects can have significant financial benefit through increasing efficiency and enabling staff to respond more nimbly to opportunities. They also give non-material benefits such as increasing CSAT and net promoter scores.
Powering the corporate memory
So how do we ensure our knowledgebase becomes an extension of our memory, not an extension of our waste bin? There are three main principles to consider:
- Planning – buying great knowledge automation software and creating content isn’t enough for success. Success requires clear goals and the active participation of end users. This means strategizing how to maintain the knowledgebase, how to foster adoption among staff, and how to publicize it to users. It also means planning KPIs by which progress and performance will be measured.
- Knowledge-centered culture – a corporate memory requires a shift in corporate culture that is supported at all levels of the organization. The knowledgebase needs to become the single source of truth for customers, agents, and internal staff across every touchpoint. This means actively encouraging use and gradually retiring legacy repositories of information. Regular use in real situations encourages knowledgebase content to remain fresh and relevant, which becomes a self-perpetuating cycle of improvement. Over time, users develop new habits and the knowledgebase becomes their first port of call.
- Regular review – to stay relevant, a knowledgebase must be reviewed and updated. If the knowledgebase fails to change in response to users’ feedback, if it fails to cover new issues or remove obsolete information, then it becomes stagnant. Content gets more and more outdated and users sense the neglect. To prevent stagnation:
- Ensure users’ feedback is taken into consideration and doesn’t pile up unread.
- Schedule time for reading through content and checking for errors.
- Keep on top of issues that pop up on social media, making sure there’s content to cover them.
- Check external links still work.
- Remove obsolete content or articles that are never read.
- Regularly monitor statistics of knowledgebase traffic, which provide irreplaceable insight into what users are asking and how far your content meets their needs.
- Automate as much of the knowledge cycle as possible to save time, increase user adoption, and increase overall the ROI.
Like many objects sent to real landfill, your knowledgebase is a valuable resource that should be used to its full potential. Well-deployed and kept continually up to date, it can provide return on investment far in excess of its setup costs. Neglected, however, it becomes just another silo, a repository of stale content that allows management to tick a box but doesn’t play any real part in the life of the organization.
The time and creativity that go into a knowledgebase deserve better. Make your knowledgebase a living resource and it will stay out of landfill for a long, long time.
Lee Beardmore has spent over two decades advising clients on best strategies for technology adoption. More recently, he has been leading the push in AI and intelligent automation for Capgemini’s Business Services. Lee is a computer scientist by education, a technologist at heart, and has a wealth of cross-industry experience
Heather Richards has over 20 years’ experience in the IT industry, having worked in both the US and UK. As part of Transversal’s original team, she has been with the company for more than a decade, and has been instrumental in the company’s growth from a Cambridge technology start-up into the successful business it is today.