February 8, 2023
What would you do if you got 100 minutes back every day?
I, for one, would be tempted to catch up on all the movies I never could watch, all the naps I never could take, and all the books I never could read due to lack of time.
But no one seems to be magically extending our days to 26 hours each or reducing the length of the global average workday. So, why am I asking you this?
Starmind’s 2022 Future of Work Research Report of companies with over 10,000 employees reveals that these 100 minutes—of every 480-minute workday—are currently being squandered looking for information and not getting things done. Over one year, this translates into a financial loss of $70 million as “teams search for answers that often aren’t documented”.
This estimate of lost hours is only part of the picture. Lack of knowledge management also leads to additional costs of “project delays, frustrated customers, and lost sales.”
Information silos and ineffective knowledge management, then, become leading causes of business disruption—right at par with economic downturns.
While there’s little you can do about an economic slowdown, solving for information management is something far more in your control. And this is where building a robust knowledge management system can be of immense help.
A knowledge management system (KMS) is a technology platform that helps organizations store, organize, and retrieve critical information in a seamless manner. It enables employees to access the right information at the right time to make informed decisions and drive business success.
Knowledge management systems come in various shapes and sizes. They can be internal to an organization as well as external, targeted at employees or customers and other stakeholders, built natively or hosted on their third-party applications.
Recommended reading: Knowledge Management Systems—The Ultimate Guide
The types of knowledge management systems that will suit an organization in turn depend on the type of knowledge it works with—tacit or explicit—and whom the knowledge is going to be useful for—internal or external stakeholders.
Tacit knowledge is difficult to formalize, codify, or express in words. It is often personal, subjective, and based on experience and intuition. It can include things like problem-solving skills, professional networks, and expert insights.
Explicit knowledge, on the other hand, is knowledge that can be easily codified, recorded, and communicated in a form that can be shared and understood by others. It includes things like documents, reports, and procedures, as well as structured data and information.
Examples of tacit knowledge include a chef's ability to create a new dish, a salesperson's intuition about which products will sell best, and a mechanic's skill at diagnosing a difficult problem. Examples of explicit knowledge include a recipe for a dish, a sales report, and a troubleshooting guide for a specific type of machinery.
It’s evident that explicit knowledge can be used to create knowledge management systems, such as company wikis and intranets. But there can also be ways of transferring tacit knowledge successfully across the organization. Think of detailed onboarding documents, or shared snippets of proven cold email templates that have worked wonders, weekly one-on-ones with managers and team leads, allhands and retrospective meetings, and so on.
Likewise, there can be ways to transfer knowledge internally across teams, departments, and levels, and to dispense it externally to customers, investors, partners etc.
Recommended reading: Use-cases of knowledge management systems
In this section, we’ll walk you through the most relevant knowledge management system examples of 2023.
Examples of knowledge management systems that cater to stakeholders within an organization are:
An enterprise knowledge base is a centralized repository of information that is easily accessible to employees within an organization. The purpose of an enterprise knowledge base is to provide a single source of truth for information that is relevant to the company and its employees. This helps organizations improve efficiency, reduce the time required to find information, and avoid duplication of effort.
A real-life example of an enterprise knowledge base is Stripe Home, a platform within Stripe that acts as both its people directory and a communication channel. There is a personal page for all Stripe employees, describing who they are, what they do, and how to get hold of them. It further categorizes all employees based on their teams and location.
Enterprise knowledge bases like Stripe’s Home usually contain vast amounts of information. These can be managed using an enterprise search solution that fetches the required data from these troves instantly.
Stripe, for example, relies on Stripe Home search — enterprise search that retrieves results not just from the employee directory but also from Stripe’s entire knowledge base. It scans resources such as documents, people, teams, and even API models, with live filters to narrow the corpus of information quickly.
Company wikis are systems that allow employees to collaborate, share information, and communicate with each other. Most wikis are structured in a way that anyone can edit and contribute to them. Some companies may restrict access controls, however, to prevent inauthentic information from being published and distributed.
Company wikis are typically focused on specific topics or projects, making it easier for employees to find the information they need.
A handbook of branding and content guidelines hosted on Notion is a good example of a company wiki that can be edited by the members of the Marketing team but is accessible to everyone inside the company.
An intranet, on the other hand, is a private network within an organization, accessible to employees. It typically includes a wide range of information and resources, including company news, policies and procedures, and HR information. An intranet can also include tools for collaboration, such as forums, chat rooms, and shared calendars.
Google’s moma is a widely known intranet, allegedly named after the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York. Googlers also fondly call it “Google Search for Google”—from guessing the right go-links for documents to privately searching for an email in the inbox, it helps them find it all.
Project management systems and collaboration tools provide a platform for managing projects, tasks, and team members, helping organizations to stay organized and on track. These systems often include features such as task assignment, progress tracking, and project timelines, making it easier for team members to stay informed about what needs to be done and who is responsible for it.
Collaboration tools also come bundled with features such as real-time chat, file sharing, instant meeting scheduling and more.
Examples of such systems include apps such as Asana, Trello, Monday.com and Wrike. You can find a more comprehensive list of project management tools to try out here.
These systems store, manage, and organize various types of documents, including text documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and multimedia files. Document Management Systems are especially helpful thanks to features such as version control, search capabilities, and the ability to categorize and tag documents.
By using a DMS, organizations can ensure that all employees have access to the most up-to-date information, reducing the risk of duplication and improving efficiency.
Most of us would know of Google Drive and Dropbox, two of the most popular document management systems used across orgs of all kinds and sizes, to store and manage documents, presentations, marketing assets, projects, and other information.
Recommended reading: How to shorten Google Drive links
Content Management Systems (CMS) play an important role in knowledge management by providing a centralized platform for creating, storing, and managing digital content. CMS makes it easier for organizations to create, publish, and distribute high-quality content, improving the accessibility and availability of information for employees and customers.
CMS typically includes features such as content creation tools, collaboration and approval workflows, and the ability to categorize and tag content for easy retrieval. By using a CMS, organizations can ensure that their digital content is consistent, up-to-date, and easily accessible.
A real-life example of a Content Management System is WordPress, which is used by millions of websites to create and manage digital content. Another example is Webflow, a CMS we used to build oslash.com.
These systems support the creation, delivery, and management of educational content and training programs. An LMS helps employees upskill consistently by equipping them with up-to-date training. It offers course creation tools, tracking and reporting capabilities, and the ability to assess student performance.
There are hundreds of LMS out there today. Some of the renowned ones include Moodle, Coursera, and Blackboard. A position at OSlash, too, comes with the added perks of access to a wide variety of courses on LMS such as O’Reilly, DemandCurve, Udemy etc.
Today, roughly 80% of customer interactions happen over the phone, email, or chat.
A CRM helps manage these scattered customer interactions by documenting them in a central database throughout the customer life cycle. By serving as a single source of truth for all customer data, CRM systems help with everything ranging from omnichannel campaign management and lead reporting to email automation and pipeline management; from customer issue tracking and resolution to imparting robust sales insights.
With quick access to business-critical information, companies using a CRM system see improved sales productivity, a reduction in information search costs, and a 45% increase in sales!
Salesforce is an example of a CRM system that has become nearly synonymous with its product category. Another leading CRM system is that of the behemoth, HubSpot.
Applicant Tracking Systems automate and streamline the recruitment and hiring process by providing a centralized platform for managing job postings, resumes, and other application materials. They make it simpler for hiring managers to track and manage candidate information.
An ATS offers benefits such as resume parsing, candidate tracking, and the ability to schedule interviews and send communications at the click of a button.
Examples of some preferred Applicant Tracking Systems are JazzHR, Lever, and Taleo.
These are some of the examples of knowledge management systems exclusively available within an organization and targeted toward the management and employees.
There are also external knowledge management systems which cater to the information requirements of stakeholders such as customers, business partners, media, and other outside organizations.
External knowledge management systems like customer support knowledge bases, online communities, and AI-powered chatbots can provide a wealth of information and support to customers. By making it easier for people to find answers and resolve issues, these systems help improve the customer experience and build brand loyalty.
These are the places where customers can go to find answers to their questions and resolve issues they may be facing. They’re like having access to a personal digital support team that’s ready to help at your beck and call. Their greatest advantage? Reducing wait times from eternity to seconds.
With a well-designed customer support knowledge base, companies can publish solutions to FAQs and the most common issues faced by customers on an online platform and reduce the volume of incoming queries, be it via phone calls, chats, or emails.
Platforms like Zendesk and Freshdesk are frequently used to build this type of knowledge management system by organizations.
Online communities are dedicated spaces for people (specifically users of a product or service) to connect, share information, and learn tips and tricks from one another to be able to use the product better. They can be a great source of information, especially for niche topics where expert advice may be hard to come by. They’re also a good place to avail some exclusive discounts and freebies!
IKEA’s online community, for example, is where IKEA fans can go to swap stories of putting together complex furniture. This community also provides members discounts, free Oops-assurance and more perks. Then there’s GitHub for developers to collaborate on and share code. And Product Hunt for discovering new tech products before everyone else does!
Whether or not you believe that AI is taking over the world, it sure is taking over the screen. AI-powered chatbots act as virtual assistants that provide customer support and answer repetitive customer questions instantly and efficiently. Unlike human customer service agents, they operate 24/7 too and are capable of resolving frequent issues extremely fast.
While we are all used to chatting with Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant for getting to know updates on all kinds of things from the latest weather to the latest football scores, dedicated customer-service chatbots include H&M Shop the Look—a chatbot integrated into H&M's mobile app that provides fashion recommendations and allows users to shop directly from the chat interface.
Now that we know what good knowledge management systems look like, here’s a ready reckoner of features to help you build or invest in one.
A good knowledge management system should be:
By adopting a system that has these characteristics, organizations can improve the efficiency, accuracy, and impact of their knowledge management efforts.
Recommended reading: A guide to choosing the right knowledge management system for your organization
A study of 20 teams across three Fortune 500 companies found that workers toggled between applications, looking for information, roughly 1,200 times each day! The context switch can cost up to just under four hours each week—roughly 9% of their time at work.
No matter which knowledge management system you choose to adopt, integrating it with OSlash can lend it the superpowers of discovering the right information, blazingly fast. By letting you name your most-used URLs and snippets, it makes finding information an intuitive rather than a complicated process.
You could name the Notion URL to your product roadmap as o/roadmap, for instance and then open it simply by typing the shortcut the next time. Instead of locating elusive links in ong chat or email threads, you could just create relevant shortcuts and find the resources instantly. The same could be done for your frequently typed text snippets.
Because finding information is the first step to solving a problem. It’s imperative that it should not become a problem in and of itself, isn’t it?
So, go ahead! Download OSlash today. Your team, your department, and your company will thank you for it.
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