Enterprise Q&A – The Missing Link in Collaboration and Knowledge Management

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As we turn the page on a new year, companies continue to bet heavily on ways to increase collaboration and better leverage their organizational knowledge. This push to create a more social enterprise is further evidence of the need to get better ideas to market faster…

The Three Common Social Business Solutions

  1. The ESN Solution – Implement a large enterprise social network like Jive, Socialcast or Tibbr with the idea that employees will use these systems to embrace collaboration.
  2. The Social CMS Solution – Expand on the existing document management solution with ESN-like collaborative functions, i.e. Sharepoint and Sitrion
  3. The First-Step  Solution РImplement measured steps like Yammer or Salesforce Chatter while trying to figure out what social and collaboration mean to the organization.

On the surface each of these solutions seems to have merit, but they still struggle to deliver. The ESN solution often over-solves the problem by introducing large workflow changes and big expense. The Social CMS solution is no less expensive and is a doubling-down of sorts on document focused collaboration. And, the First-Step solution often suffers from adoption issues and can send mixed messages to the organization.

These facts outline the confusion that exists in the social business space. Should companies change big because the future state is so different? Should they take small steps and see how things go? Perhaps there is a need to look at the problem differently.

The Missing Link…

Often overlooked in this conversation is how an Enterprise Question and Answer system (EQ&A) inherently addresses these needs. By being a connection point at the intersection of collaboration and knowledge management, EQ&A fits smoothly into existing behavior.

People are already collaborating by asking questions of their immediate peers.

These collaborations occur in existing channels like email, IM and hallway conversations. There is no need to explain or encourage people to collaborate. Additionally, answers provided by your SMEs in an EQ&A can include links to various existing knowledge management system(s), breathing new life into documents that have been historically difficult to locate. Finally, EQ&A by it’s very nature documents tribal knowledge. This is something that other social business approaches have only begun to scratch the surface of.

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Why Enterprise Q&A?

  1. Cause and Effect Collaboration – Questions are asked. Answers are provided, collaborated on, and then accepted and made searchable.
  2. Tribal Knowledge 80% of organizational knowledge is tribal. Enterprise Q&A fills this glaring hole in knowledge management.
  3. Leverage Existing Investments – Answers can include links to documents located in existing knowledge management system(s).
  4. Expert Identification – Crowdsourced peer endorsement identifies SMEs. Creating trust in the process.
  5. Human Scalability – Enterprise Q&A can manage the difference between Q&A for 5000 v. 50 people.
  6. Search-able, Integrate-able, Index-able – Makes Enterprise Q&A a cornerstone of knowledge and collaboration in the organization

Take the leap

While there are many overlaps in collaboration and knowledge management solutions, it’s becoming clear that trying to loosely encourage collaboration or expand the functions of document based knowledge may not be the answer. It’s also clear that while Q&A is included in some ESN and CMS systems it’s often buried at a secondary or tertiary level, thereby missing this innovative positioning.

By putting Enterprise Q&A in a primary role it’s possible to create a jumping-off point for true collaboration. Collaboration that uses the full scope of organizational knowledge, both tribal and document based.

This small change in perspective is what organizations need to take the confusion out of social business and find the measurable results they’ve been looking for.

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