By Donna Fluss
The knowledge management (KM) market is experiencing a resurgence, driven by the artificial intelligence (AI) revolution. The funny thing about this is that over thirty-five years ago when KM first came to market, it was presented as AI. Today it is viewed as an essential contributor to AI solutions, as the knowledge base is a great source of the data needed to feed AI.
KM Market in Transition
The KM market has changed a great deal in the past few years, with a lot more innovation under way and expected in the near future. There is still a lot of work to do to make it easy to implement and be able to use KM on an institutional basis, but organizations are starting to address these issues as they are on the critical path for some of their automation and AI initiatives. Vendors are now willing to make investments and enhancements in their KM solutions as they see the potential of a large payback.
The entire concept of KM and what these applications do is changing. For years KM remained a relatively consistent function and application. Organizations that invested in KM applications spent lots of time finding and loading the data and trying to get their employees—particularly those in contact centers, customer service organizations, technical support functions, and field service—to use the solutions. The problem was that it often took so long to load up the system that some of the data was out of date by the time employees accessed it. I’ve visited many companies where employees would rather do a Google search than use a KM solution, as the information on Google was much easier to find and more accurate.
Innovation in the KM Market
KM vendors that have come up with creative ways to address these issues are realizing the rewards for their efforts. Customers buy their solutions at a rate never seen in the past. Here is a list of some innovation and distinguishing features among the leading KM solutions in the market:
- KM methodologies, like knowledge-centered support (KCS) and other best practices, are being embedded within the applications, which help organizations succeed with the solution.
- KM solutions allow and even encourage their users to access a variety of sources to participate in knowledge creation, including customers, communities, and crowdsourcing. (They also provide a variety of ways to speed up vetting the data and development of new knowledge articles.)
- The addition of natural language understanding and natural language processing (NLU/NLP) technology is speeding up and automating the data acquisition process.
- AI and machine learning technologies are becoming integral components of KM solutions, helping companies improve data integrity, find data gaps, and create new content. (Human beings currently support these processes.)
- Vendors use responsive design techniques to deliver knowledge to the various audiences that need the information, in device-appropriate layouts with optimized navigation. This makes it much easier for users to rapidly access and consume the knowledge.
- Knowledge is being delivered “at the speed and flexibility of Google,” which is a significant change for this sector.
- Gamification techniques are being used to track and reward knowledge contributors and knowledge users.
These are just a few of the enhanced features that users will find in leading KM solutions, and there is a great deal more innovation on the way.
KM has awakened to a new reality: one where enterprises, not just their service organizations, are receptive to the concept of a single source of enterprise knowledge. The race is on to automate many front- and back-office functions using robotic process automation (robots or “bots”), intelligent virtual agents (IVAs), and other self-service technologies to fully automate the handling of inquiries.
There is also a growing recognition of the need to give employees a method to rapidly find and access the information they need to do their jobs better, more accurately, and faster. The new generation of KM solutions is ideal for addressing these challenges, but DMG cautions prospects to assess them carefully, as each one has distinct strengths and opportunities.
Donna Fluss is president of DMG Consulting LLC. DMG just released its first report covering the KM market. For more than two decades Donna has helped emerging and established companies develop and deliver outstanding customer experiences. A recognized visionary, author, and speaker, she drives strategic transformation and innovation throughout the services industry. She provides strategic and practical counsel for enterprises, solution providers, and the investment community.