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Knowledge Management and the Interweb

Whenever I have a problem with my computer at home that I can’t solve, and I consider myself computer literate, the first place I look for an answer is Google. In the vast majority of occasions this gets me the answer I need, my stress levels subside and I am able to carry on with whatever it was that I was doing before the ‘world came to an end’.

With more and more companies opening up their employees desktops to the outside world, are search engines like Google a help or a hindrance?

In some cases there can be a good case made for utilizing the search capabilities of an online provider, however, it can also be argued that these same search tools can lead to a path of distraction, time wasting and quite possibly serious error and cost.

Take for example a simple search query like ‘how to enter a new customer in CIS’. Google tells me that I can view 142,000,000 pages with something related to my search. Now granted, it is likely that a request like that would probably be handled by an in-house expert, but it does demonstrate how easy it could be to spend an exorbitant amount of time trying to find the page that came close to matching your query.

Google search entering a new customer in CIS

To a lesser degree the same situation can also occur on a company’s intranet where hundreds or thousands of answers can be returned on a simple query. The results can be equally as unproductive for the user.

So how does a business provide context sensitive information to their employees? The answer lies in defining the role, the process and the requirements of each user and providing them with a mechanism that only returns answers specific to their function.

Whilst the effort is great to achieve this, the rewards are equally great in improved productivity, reduced errors and rework, and a happier, more confident user community.

Ted Gannan

Ted Gannan co-founded Panviva after 20 years in a variety of senior management, sales, and editorial roles in the publishing industry, including Managing Director of Thomson Learning, Australia. Ted led the development of SupportPoint after identifying a need for an improved method of delivering ‘moment-of-need’ procedural and product knowledge to employees. He is responsible for overseeing the company’s growth worldwide.

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