Help Employees to ‘Upskill’ With Access to Information

by   |   January 13, 2015 5:30 am   |   0 Comments

Diane Berry, Chief Knowledge Evangelist and SVP Market Strategy, Coveo

Diane Berry, Chief Knowledge Evangelist and SVP Market Strategy, Coveo

In today’s digital workplace, the key to overcoming the drag on operational performance that siloed knowledge and expertise places on the 21st century employee lies with information access. Improved access to corporate knowledge assets and expertise will enable workers to do what they do best: effectively reuse existing knowledge to create new knowledge that will move their organizations forward.

The modern workplace is in a state of momentous change. The rapid digitalization of the modern work environment, the retirement of the baby boomer generation, and a growing skills and talent shortage mean that a smaller number of employees needs to possess more skills. Combine this with the ever-increasing volume and variety of data that employees are expected to leverage to do their jobs effectively, and it’s no wonder that employees have started to rely on new processes and technologies to retain information to “upskill” themselves professionally.

A cornerstone of any corporate initiative to produce a more productive and proficient workforce is ensuring that workers have access to the existing data, information, and knowledge they need to do their jobs effectively. Yet many organizations have not tackled the task of helping employees gain skills in the moment via instant access to relevant, contextual knowledge. This perhaps is based on a fundamental belief that workers spend the majority of their time working on or solving new challenges, even though this typically is not the case. Coveo recently set out to uncover the reasons for this disconnect by randomly surveying 412 knowledge workers and 337 knowledge management practitioners throughout North America.

The resulting study found that knowledge workers rarely do unique work, with only 7 percent of respondents reporting that they do new work more than 75 percent of the time, and 58 percent reporting doing new work less than 25 percent of the time. Rework wastes time, frustrates employees, and can be the cause of employee disengagement. Disengaged employees often lead to companies struggling to engage their customers.

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The culprit of this disruption in productivity is the inability of knowledge workers to quickly and easily find previously completed work and/or expertise related to the tasks they are working on. To solve this problem, organizations need to employ enterprise search strategies and technologies that help employees easily access data, knowledge, and expertise that is directly related to their work from across the silos of information stored in a company’s IT network infrastructure. This information should be delivered based on each employee’s work and that of their workgroups. Workers should be able to interact with the information to gain exactly the knowledge – the skills – needed to address their current needs. When people access and use information in their flow of work, they are more likely to internalize and remember it, increasing their proficiency and beginning the “upskilling” process.

Why do organizations typically struggle with implementing these strategies? It revolves around two primary reasons. The first reason is that today’s heterogeneous IT infrastructures form an “ecosystem of record” – a collection of newer, cloud-based software; older, legacy systems; and data sources that silo valuable data, knowledge, and expertise. Many organizations have tried, and failed, to centralize information in a “system of record,” but IT simply cannot keep up with the need to integrate systems while also constantly moving and updating data. As a result, information remains disconnected, making it difficult and time consuming to find. Access to this knowledge often requires end-users to conduct separate searches within disconnected systems, often disrupting co-workers by asking where information may be found, and – even worse – moving forward without the knowledge necessary to make sound decisions or correctly solve the problem at hand.

The second reason is more cultural than technological. Overcoming the second roadblock requires an organization to recognize the value of information and knowledge as a key organizational asset, which requires a cultural shift in the company. Management must be willing to support and champion the implementation of processes and technologies that help employees to effectively access existing knowledge.

By doing so, management empowers its employees by enabling them to retain more information and “upskill” themselves to become more productive and proficient at their jobs. By providing access to the organization’s information, knowledge, and expertise, employees are better able to create new work rather than re-doing existing work. Employees become more engaged and efficient, and are able to adapt quickly to change while maintaining a focus on innovation.

It is important to note that these benefits can transform an organization’s bottom line. Coveo’s study shows that better access to more relevant knowledge at the point of need can have a significant impact on ROI, including increasing sales, delivering more innovate products and services to market faster, and improving profitability. Fifty-eight percent of managers surveyed said that giving workers access to the organization’s collective information and knowledge, personalized for their use, would improve company profitability by 25 percent.

In today’s digital workplace, the key to overcoming the drag on operational performance that siloed knowledge and expertise places on the 21st century employee lies with information access. Improved access to corporate knowledge assets and expertise will enable workers to do what they do best: effectively reuse existing knowledge to create new knowledge that will move their organizations forward.

As Chief Knowledge Evangelist and SVP of Market Strategy for Coveo, Diane Berry leads the organization’s thought leadership and research programs centered on Search-powered Knowledge Management. Previously, Diane served as SVP of Marketing and Communication at Coveo, where she worked extensively with Coveo customers. Diane was previously SVP, Global Marketing and Communication with Taleo Corporation, an international provider of on-demand Internet software for talent and human capital management. Diane has also served as Chief Marketing Officer of SelectMinds, a corporate social media solutions provider.


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