Tap Enterprise Knowledge to Boost Innovation, Productivity & Profits
In an increasingly complex, information-driven world, businesses and consumers alike struggle to find the information they need in order to make decisions. For businesses, connecting the right information to the right people at the right time remains a critical challenge. And it isn’t getting easier.
Over the past decade or so, industry analyst firm IDC has regularly conducted research on what not finding information might cost an organization.
Consider the impact of the following:
- Outdated information. IDC cites the example of a manufacturing company designed and built a new product based on a part that was no longer manufactured. They had looked in an old parts catalog.
- Missing or incomplete information. Incomplete information, says IDC, is responsible for the year that a major aircraft manufacturer wasted developing a new product that its competitor had already produced 10 years earlier.
- Time spent publishing, sharing, searching for and analyzing information. IDC estimates the average information worker salary of 75,000 USD per year. In IDC’s most recent survey of over 700 knowledge workers, the analyst firm asked respondents about the types of tasks they perform and the time spent performing those tasks:
- 13 hours per week spent on email (cost: $21,000 per year)
- 9 hours per week spent searching for information (cost: $14,000 per year)
- 8 hours per week analyzing information (cost: $13,000 per year)
- 6.5 hours per week communicating / collaborating with team members
(cost: $10,000 per year)
- 6 hours per week creating content (cost: $10,000 per year)
- Nearly 4 hours per week publishing information (cost: $6,000 per year)
- Information overload. Between email, journals, presentations, articles, meeting and field notes, reports, social media inputs and more, most professionals are inundated with information. Knowledge workers, says IDC, spend from 15% to 35% of their time searching for information. And, most people don't know where to look, how to ask for what they are seeking (or when it is OK to stop looking). This challenge is exasperated by the explosion of Big Data.
- Inability to find information. With information scattered across an organization’s repositories, directories and intranets, employees cannot easily locate information they need in order to make critical business decisions. The result? Wasted search efforts and decisions made in the absence of information.
- Recreating knowledge that already exists. Knowledge workers, says IDC, spend more time recreating existing information than they do turning out information that does not already exist. Some studies suggest that 90% of the time that knowledge workers spend in creating new reports or other products is spent in recreating information that already exists.
Knowledge and the Innovation Impact
Product innovation is knowledge-intensive and characterized by iterative phases of opportunity or challenge analyses, problem-solving and decision making. Repeated success comes to those organizations that approach a challenge (such as fixing a product defect or circumventing a blocking patent) or opportunity (entering a new market with an existing technology, for example) with the right questions and then access relevant and actionable knowledge in a timely manner.
Sophisticated semantic research technologies do just that – giving knowledge workers access to existing sources of relevant knowledge including best practices and lessons learned. That information may well lie within an organization’s virtual four walls, though often in geographical or departmental silos. Or, it may be found outside the organization, industry or domain – in patent collections and public and proprietary scientific libraries, journals, websites or the ‘Deep Web’.
By arming engineers, scientists, and other product development personnel with semantic question-answering technology coupled with a framework for collaboration and tools to accelerate problem solving, workers are knowledge-enabled. This allows them to make better, more informed decisions to avoid repeating past mistakes, share and reuse proven ideas and expertise, focus on defining and analyzing problems/opportunities and discover high quality ideas and solutions.
Clearly, those organizations that are best able to capitalize on their enterprise knowledge – and also harness the breadth of external information that exists outside their four walls – will have a tremendous competitive advantage over those organizations that continue to allow their information workers to flounder in their quest for knowledge. You already paid handsomely to create it, you might as well get your money’s worth out of it!