KM at Work: A Look at How Organizations Maximize Knowledge to Deliver Results

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KM To Serve the Customer

From its inception, effective knowledge management has worked to enable organizations to better meet the needs of their customers. Accenture provides its customers-and uses for its own operations-a knowledgebase called Knowledge Xchange, which dates from the mid-1990s. Knowledge Xchange can be described as "a general term for a vast repository based on a number of systems," according to Scott Kurth, senior manager at Accenture Technology Labs.

Kurth says the knowledgebase has proved instrumental in his own product development efforts on behalf of clients. He's not alone in this belief: The system is "a critical component in helping Accenture deliver solutions and services that achieve high performance for its clients" according to a document from the CIO's office, not to mention a means of getting new employees up to speed quickly. Knowledge Xchange houses "33,000 databases (1.5 million pages in 14 global libraries) connecting 177,000 professionals," according to an Accenture training manual.

Now, powered by Web 2.0 technologies, KM encompasses efforts aimed more specifically at increasing productivity through customer self-service and collaboration tools, expanding the mandate from knowledge repository to more focused process improvement goals.

Turning the problem on its head, some dynamic entrants into the KM space-such as Fuze Digital Solutions-focus on offering knowledge-based customer self-service. With this type of tool, once all the data is made available through a customer-driven effort, it is simply a matter of filtering the data to determine who gets what, making it a useful knowledgebase for both employees and customers. Likewise, the ROI analysis, elusive to some, is clear here: "Call and email deflection," according to Jean Van Court, chief customer officer at Fuze.

Fuze Digital recently completed an implementation at NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) and says that its analysis to date showed that currently 99% of the people who come to the site to do searches-both professionals and just atmospherically interested citizens-are finding the answer on the site.

Blue Coat Systems, Inc., a provider of application delivery networking, recently deployed InQuira to power its customer self-help knowledgebase. John Owen, VP of customer support for Blue Coat, reports that the company is already seeing about 7,000 queries per week on the system. In order to gauge efficacy, the company is using the metrics "call deflection rate" and "cycle time to close cases." Likewise, it is able to see which articles are instrumental in closing cases and can target what needs to be written by the support organization.

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