Traditional KM Systems Need to Step into the 21st Century

"Too many KM solutions focus on aggregation and summarization which only works for highly structured knowledge and information needs.", Dave Snowden said in his interview for our blog.   Many of our readers agreed with him adding that it has already become a pattern. We believe that this pattern needs to be broken, as KM solutions need to be able to capture tacit knowledge and make it available. 

Capturing tacit knowledge in a way that can be leveraged by the organisation is one of the largest challenges in KM processes, and it has been widely ignored in traditional knowledge management systems. 

Let us take customer support industry as an example. 

 Customer Support Knowledge Management

Traditional KM systems in the customer support industry are based around highly structured content authoring, which focuses on creating knowledge bases to be used in customer self-service. But they still haven't found out how to resolve more complex issues. 

Here we need to take a step back and define these two types of knowledge and their use in customer support industry.

Explicit knowledge is tangible; it is already written down in the form of FAQ and conventional knowledge bases. This type of knowledge is very useful for call centres that handle a lot of similar questions with straightforward answers. However, when difficult problems arise, requiring an array of expertise with interactions that extend across multiple organisations, that's where tacit knowledge comes in. 

Tacit knowledge is the knowledge that resides in a person's head. It is a product of years of experience and is often untapped until the situation requiring this knowledge arises. 

Customer Support  KM

Discovering Tacit Knowledge 

Tacit knowledge can only be captured when it is discovered. The key to its discovery and successful use is to accurately identify the right experts that can resolve a particular issue. Expertise management becomes a central idea behind the process of capturing tacit knowledge.

Managing your experts

Organisations that successfully identify and connect experts who can share their tacit knowledge benefit greatly by offering higher quality solutions which are delivered quicker and at a lower cost. This is especially applicable not just to customer support, but in markets that are challenged with business-critical issues such as strategic account management, professional services, research and development etc.

What is the best way to capture tacit knowledge?

The easiest way would be to channel informal discussions over the issues into your collaborative workspace. For example, a great knowledge sharing platform will replace ad-hoc interactions such as e-mail threads or shouting over the cubicles with a well-organised place where people can work together as teams; that they may open to customers or stakeholders. This platform will become a place where they can share information about a current situation, issue or a topic. This platform also needs to offer communication channels similar to those already used such as e-mail or instant messaging, and follow the patterns of modern communication such as @mentions to allow for easier adoption. Organisations, by instantly and automatically capturing these interactions and making it available will expand the scope of reusable knowledge and discover this type of data:

  • Which content is the most helpful
  • Which processes have resolved which issues
  • Who were the experts involved
  • What were the pitfalls to avoid 

We have designed our platform with this need in mind, and tacit knowledge shared on Tallium platform is automatically captured and immediately reusable, so next time a similar urgent business situation arises, your workers can access this time-saving, relevant information that can increase the quality of resolution while reducing the time necessary to do so. 

When done correctly, capturing and sharing knowledge becomes a by-product of the normal issue resolution dialogue, that can make or break a business. 

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