Knowledge transfer is inextricably linked with all knowledge worker professions — healthcare, finance, legal, information technology, tech, education, journalism, the list goes on. So why do so many still struggle with it?
The term “knowledge management” has been around a long time. In software years, we’re talking about just slightly after the Big Bang. That’s why it’s not surprising that it tends to be associated with the fairly staid, mainframe-based, technically heavy systems of the 1980s and ‘90s. Those systems focused on document storage, while newer platforms prioritize knowledge access — and that function of access (namely knowledge sharing and usability) is key to understanding Knowledge Management as a Service (KMaaS).
Knowledge alignment: The overlooked competitive advantage
Intellectual capital is a cornerstone of every industry, and KMaaS is about capturing and serving that intellectual capital — that know-how — to everyone who needs it, when and where they’re already working. And while the content and knowledge certainly differs from industry to industry (if not from department to department!) the knowledge base itself doesn’t have to, as long as it’s flexible enough to serve all use cases. A multinational conglomerate will ultimately need to capture the same types of knowledge as a 30-person company: internal policies, compliance information, tech stack documentation, today’s workarounds, support scripts, etc. They just need to capture and serve it at a vastly larger scale.
Even within industries that seem monolithic, like healthcare, different departments will need to capture both different AND overlapping tacit and explicit information. A hospital is a microcosm of this situation:
- Doctors need specific, real-time medical and pharmaceutical knowledge
- Administrators need financial systems and regulatory knowledge
- Customer service reps need to know how to triage and resolve calls on topics ranging from insurance to scheduling
- Desk staff need on-site policy information
- Maintenance staff need to understand the ins-and-outs of cleaning and maintenance of medical spaces and equipment.
At the same time, all of those groups have overlapping knowledge needs about things like building and systems access, schedules, and policies. To expect them to work in entirely different knowledge bases — where those overlapping knowledge needs can easily fall out of sync — is ludicrous, but it’s generally the way hospital knowledge is structured anyway, leading to inefficiencies, confusion, and, if not impaired decision-making, at least patient and visitor confusion.
Knowledge Management as a Service benefits every industry
Knowledge Management as a Service isn’t just about investing in a knowledge management system, it’s about fundamentally reimagining what better alignment in knowledge transfer can do for a business. When knowledge management strategy focuses on access instead of storage, it enables individuals to make better decisions, and companies to head off repeated problems.
Think of it this way: one problem is never just one problem. An individual customer service rep giving bad information to one customer one time can, in many cases, be considered a non-issue. But that rep interacts with more than just one customer — and if he shared that bad info with another rep, who shares it with another, who shares it with another… that quickly cascades into a major issue that can have massive implications for a brand.
In the KMaaS model, however, a lesson is learned once, documented, and pushed to many people in-context, vastly cutting down on the possibility of bad knowledge transfer. In the most flexible setup, both structured and unstructured knowledge can easily be accessed and pushed to those who need it.
Companies with knowledge-driven cultures outperform the field, and they rely on flexible, forward thinking knowledge management processes to help drive their success.