Knowledge Management is the process of identifying, creating, representing, and distributing knowledge to those who need it. It’s a broad subject with definitions that focus on the technology, organizational, and sometimes even ecological aspects. As noted by Wikipedia, schools of thought include those that focus on intellectual capital, social planning, information theory, value networks, and even complexity while concepts tend to revolve around the dimensions of knowledge, the different stages of a knowledge-related activity where knowledge is required, and both structured and unstructured, planned and ad-hoc knowledge access.
The reality is that any definition of knowledge management will be contingent on the knowledge you need to manage and the definition that is right for you will be the one that not only addresses your issues but allows you to define and measure value. With respect to strategic service management, a knowledge management solution is one that allows your service personnel to access the knowledge they need, when they need it, and to contribute new knowledge quickly and easily to the knowledge base. It should also allow your customers to access the knowledge that is appropriate to them when they need it, in a format that makes sense to them. And it should be very easy to manage and maintain.
Specifically, it should make problems easy to diagnose and identify by a technician so that they can quickly get to a solution. To this end, it should support free search for advanced users, guided search for novice users, and direct solution access for expert users who know the system well. It should also support multimedia so that users can identify problems visually, and, if appropriate, audibly as well. The indexed solutions should be structured to not only allow information display at various levels of detail, but to allow a user to quickly jump to the portion of the solution they need.
Servigistics‘ knowledge management solution allows for free-text search, guided search, and direct access by index values. It supports images, audio, and video that can be included in both problem descriptions and solutions and enables information to be be coded for display at different levels of detail depending on the user.
If the user has the right permissions, the user can update the knowledge store on the spot – which allows expert technicians to capture their knowledge as soon as they identify a new problem and a new solution. It also includes your standard “rate the usefulness of this solution” feature that not only allows users to give their feedback, but affects the order in which solutions are displayed, or queries asked, in the future as the system learns with each access. And it incorporates natural language processing which allows a solution to be found even if the search terms don’t appear in the solution as it is capable of identifying similar terms and concepts.
Now, if you’re an expert in KM, or someone who studied it ten (10) years ago, you’ll realize that there are no revolutionary features incorporated in Servigistics’ knowledge management product, as all of these features were being worked on ten (10) years ago, but you’ll also know that generic KM solutions not customized for a particular problem domain tend not to be very useful. The reality is that case-based reasoning, dynamic questioning, natural language search, and similar techniques aren’t perfect, and their accuracy degrades (rapidly) as the breadth of the solution decreases. Furthermore, people in different professions tend to work in different ways (as they are trained in different ways) and no generic solution is going to please everyone. This means that the right solution isn’t the most advanced solution, but a solution tailored to your problem domain that incorporates the most appropriate technologies.
To this end, I believe Servigistics’ offering, which is one of the first Knowledge Management solutions for the Strategic Service Management domain, is a good solution. It meets the basic requirements. It’s easy to configure and use. It’s accessible by support representatives, technicians, and customers and it can be configured to show each user the information at the right level of detail in a view tailored to them. And it integrates with their command center and the rest of their Strategic Service Management Suite, allowing each user to access it quickly and easily when they need to. It’s definitely the right approach.