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knowledge management systems

Versatile knowledge management systems are more vital than ever in the work-at-home era

The COVID-19 era has changed much about what we think of as “office” work – most notably where, when and how office workers work.  Monday through Friday, urban office towers and suburban office parks are (to be kind) far less populated than they used to be; some are practically ghost towns, their elevators empty, their cafeterias and common areas shuttered.

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal reported, “The number of Americans working solely from home has at least doubled, and possibly tripled, since before the pandemic.  At its peak in early May, 52% of employed Americans reported always working from home, and another 18% reported sometimes working from home, for a total of 70%, according to a survey by polling firm Gallup.  That represents more than 100 million people in the U.S. alone.”

How those at-home workers meet and collaborate is very different from when they sat in a common office 40 hours a week.  That same Wall Street Journal article reported, “Zoom Video Communications had 10 million daily meeting participants in December; four months later, it had 300 million.”

What hasn’t changed in the pandemic-driven switch to remote office work, however, is also noteworthy: so-called knowledge workers still need ready access to relevant information to do their work effectively.  And in a “virtual office” environment, where people can’t just drop in on a subject matter expert colleague – to ask a quick question, or confer at length for a tutorial on a topic of interest – the computerized knowledge management (KM) systems large enterprises have built over many years must function at a higher level (and more reliably) than ever before.  KM systems are now the only connection between knowledge workers and the collected knowledge that fuels their work product.

What are the attributes of a KM system for market research and competitive intelligence purposes that maps to the needs of these unusual times?  Frankly, they are the same attributes that define an optimal KM system for any time:

  • a platform that seamlessly integrates and enables full-text search of all of an organization’s research resources, including primary internal market research, licensed secondary research, business news, relevant industry and government databases, social media, and (for companies in the life sciences industry) conference abstracts and posters;
  • AI-based machine learning capabilities that streamline mining and reporting key insights from the searched material;
  • Robust publishing tools that automate distribution of new material and insights throughout an organization, formatted to the needs and preferences of each audience; and
  • Assurance that all research produced by any given organization is in compliance with the geographic and industry requirements unique to that organization.

Finally, to expedite development and maintenance of a KM system at a time when IT departments are preoccupied with optimizing the organization’s remote communications and collaboration infrastructure, a hosted KM solution that IT can simply plug-and-play may be particularly advantageous.

You could say the advantages of such a system for an organization’s knowledge workers is virtually impossible to ignore.

To learn more about how a modern knowledge management system can help your organization keep virtual office workers productive and connected to the information they need, contact Northern Light.

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