What the pandemic has taught us about knowledge management

Published: Thursday, October 8th, 2020

COVID-19 has cast a long shadow over the world in 2020. But like most things sent to test us, the pandemic and the ensuing lockdowns have also taught us many things, including about the importance of readily available, easily digestible and up-to-date knowledge.

Knowledge is a premium product

When governments around the world issued work from home (WFH) orders to slow the spread of infection, business operations were disrupted. Established ways of working, collaborating and communicating changed overnight, literally. We learned that when workers are dispersed and distant from each other it becomes even more important to have the knowledge that guides ‘how we do things around here’ codified in a knowledge management system that employees and other stakeholders are instantly able to access no matter where and when they need it. Those organisations that had robust knowledge management systems and processes were more easily and quickly able to migrate to the new way of working.

Cloud is a critical enabler

To be able to shift over night to a WFH strategy means systems and processes need to move to where the workers are. The less they are tied to the workplace the quicker and smoother the shift to WFH has been. Cloud computing is the critical enabler for the rapid and extensive flexibility that a sudden shift to WFH relies upon. Having cloud-based contact centre, telephony, CRM and knowledge management platforms in place when the pandemic hit enabled organisations to pivot instantly and seamlessly as and when circumstances changed.

Collaboration tools become mainstream

Without the convenience of colleagues physically nearby, the informal communication between workers that plays such a major role in the smooth running of organisations suddenly ceased to exist. Collaboration tools such as Slack, Zoom and Microsoft Teams stepped in to fill this need, and the uptake was such that the rate of growth in usage of Microsoft Team in 2020 has eclipsed all previous Microsoft products. We have all grown used to being told “you’re on mute” as meetings have become online affairs through one of these tools. A whole new meeting etiquette has established around online meetings and the adage “the camera never lies” has caught many of us out as we conduct normal day-to-day business from the chaos of partners both working from home while home schooling and caring for children.

And it all comes together in contact tracing

At Panviva we are proud to have been able to play a role in contact tracing efforts in various states across the USA, and we have learned all over again from that experience pretty much all the lessons outlined above. Contact tracing is an emergency response – it has to be set up at warp speed to deal with an existential threat. There’s no time to train people, no time for lengthy system implementation projects and there’s barely time to recruit the people needed to do the tracing work. We learned right away that without being able to deliver the contact tracing scripts together with the system instructions needed for correctly using the telephony system and accurately recording the contact details in the CRM, close contacts could not be traced quickly enough to be able to slow the spread of infection. We also learned that it is almost certain that the people inducted into the contact tracing role will lack either the contact centre skills or the medical knowledge needed for effective contact tracing, and with no time to train them, effective knowledge management is critical. So we learned right away the criticality of cloud systems and robust knowledge management.

We then learned just how difficult a job contact tracing is. There are so many twists and turns that a tracing interview can take, and good tracers learn how to navigate them on the job. That makes it critical that they can provide their feedback so the contact tracing scripts and processes evolve with experience. When the seemingly inevitable need to add more contact tracers happens, the constantly evolving and improving knowledge and the cloud-based knowledge management and contact centre systems are easily able to flex up and down as needed.

Much of what we have learned from COVID-19 confirms that Panviva is on the right path. Our knowledge management system, proven in high volume, mission critical contact centres around the world has helped many of our customers transition to WFH during the pandemic. We released the native Panviva integration with Microsoft Teams just as the pandemic drove the global use of Teams sky high. The speed of deployment of Panviva cloud architecture has been proven again and again in contact tracing initiatives involving thousands of contact tracers, established in some cases within one week. When normal times return Panviva’s customers will reap the benefits from what we learned from the COVID-19 pandemic.