Continuing on my series of Knowledge Management (KM) insights derived through recent research sponsored by my friends at Parature, I’d like to take some time to discuss a little bit on KM investments for the coming year (2015) based on research conducted in the past few months.
I asked KM practitioners about many things. When questioned on whether they planned to invest in KM in 2015, 87% of organizations said it was in the plans. This is good news, considering historically that number had held at a range between 50% and 65%. Growth in investment is what will allow organizations to pay for KM maintenance, expand in terms of better customer-generated and customer-maintained knowledge, and to be able to address growth in usage.
More surprising, but a little disappointing, was that the level of investment is not going to grow as needed. The breakdown among those who are planning to grow their investment was:
- 44% will retain the same investment
- 17% will grow it less than 5%
- 15% will grow it more than 5%
- 24% were not sure or had no numbers to provide.
When I conducted follow-up interviews with some of the respondents to dig deeper into why the investment in KM was not properly funded (if you remember from the previous post, maintenance costs rise on average 8% per year), I came across three reasons:
- 1. There is no sufficient “proof” that KM delivers as promised. Indeed, a majority of users cannot point to a specific ROI calculation that shows clearly whether Knowledge Management changed the way users or agents carry out their interactions. This contrasts with most research I found and my experience, but it is still being cited as a reason.
- 2. KM has limited appeal for expansion. While the use of KM in customer service is well documented and has proven value throughout time, there is little that can be done to interest other functions and areas of the organization into using KM (which makes KM an investment of customer service only with limited budgets).
- 3. KM is often a part of another package. When KM is not undertaken as a stand-alone discipline, it is very hard to justify a direct investment in KM that won’t be construed as an investment in the other technology. The very few (my research indicates around 15-20%) implementations that have KM separate have done exceptionally well in returns and funding. It is a very hard case to make without having done KM first or separately, though.
Thus, KM becomes a “necessary evil” for customer service. Instead of being a discipline that can alter the way customer service is done, it is a cost item that results in a technology being implemented.
KM as a technology does not solve issues for customer service. KM as a discipline (meaning that the culture and the people are connected as parts of KM – not just the technology) has the potential to change how customer service is done.
Shifting from technology to discipline is how you make KM deliver on its promises, improve customer service, and find additional areas around the organization where KM can have the same impact.
But first, it must be funded and budgeted properly.
Disclaimer: Parature has generously contributed sponsorship to the topic of Knowledge Management together with Transversal, and Intelliresponse. The findings from all those hours of research (primary and secondary) are not influenced by any of them. I appreciate they allowing me to continue my research on KM, but these opinions and models are mine only and none of my sponsors have any bearing or influence in the outcomes and insights. I am very grateful that their contributions allow me to expand my research into KM.
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