NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, two cornerstones of the US aerospace industry, faced a very real problem in 2007.
About 50% of their workforce was set to retire, and with that, a huge amount of highly valuable and specialized knowledge would walk out the door, never to be seen again.
To combat that kind of loss, these agencies teamed up with a host of other aerospace firms and local universities to create the Southern California Aerospace Industry Knowledge Management Exchange or SCAIKME. Its goal: to document best practices for all to share and disseminate knowledge formerly held by a few key people.
While you might not be designing the next space shuttle, you might share some of the same challenges around where your knowledge lives – the stuff you document and the stuff you don’t. And you might be looking for a solution.
Here are the three places you might find your company knowledge today, and three ways you can improve the way you handle it.
1. Knowledge is scattered across systems and apps
The problem: Reps need to search many different places to find what they need.
When your company knowledge lives in many places, the onus is on the rep to comb through every platform you use to find it. No one wants to spend 15 minutes, with multiple windows open, locating a key piece of information – or even worse, after 15 minutes, not being able to find it at all.
It makes document management a nightmare, too. Have a product update you need to capture? You need to leaf through all those places and hit every relevant document and version.
The more scattered your information, the larger your margin of error. The last thing you want is a rep giving outdated or incorrect information to a client.
The solution: Use one system to manage all content, and implement integrations with your other tools.
Putting all of that information into one central hub means reps know where to go each and every time – and they’ll find the most updated version of what they’re looking for.
A tool like Kiite captures all of your company knowledge in one place and surfaces it through integrations with apps like Dropbox and Salesforce, so no matter where your reps prefer to get their information, they’ll be able to find it. Goodbye, multiple windows and tabs; hello, answers right away.
2. Knowledge is buried in websites and documents
The problem: You’ve built the content, but reps aren’t using it.
Closing a deal is hard. Reps need to know an almost infinite amount of product and industry details, and they can’t do it on their own. They rely on quality content that they can use to make those sales.
When those details are buried, though, they’re hard to find. Scrolling through to page 16 of a 17-page PDF or going deep into your corporate website is another time waster reps can do without when they’re on a deadline or need to give an answer fast.
The solution: Surface the relevant content quickly to improve adoption.
You’ve already invested in creating your resources, and they cover the information you need to share. All that’s left is finding a platform that will help read through and surface the stuff reps are looking for.
With Kiite, for example, when a rep asks a question, our assistant searches through those documents and surfaces just the information that matters, meaning your content goes further, faster.
3. Knowledge lives in reps’ heads
The problem: Your reps hold a great deal of knowledge, but you haven’t documented it.
We call this dark knowledge – the things reps know from their experience but have never written down. And it’s a veritable treasure trove most companies don’t tap into.
Maybe it’s because there’s just no time in a busy day of selling to sit down and pick out those nuggets of information, or maybe it’s because this kind of knowledge is notoriously difficult to pinpoint in the first place.
Either way, when you don’t capture that knowledge, you might find newer reps spend time asking more experienced ones the same questions over and over. And if those reps were to leave, that knowledge would be lost forever – the exact problem NASA and JPL were trying to avoid.
The solution: Use an automated system that makes insights and anecdotes available to the whole team.
In aerospace, there’s the knowledge management exchange. In your company, you’ve got the stories, thoughts and answers reps share with each other through apps like Slack. The information is there, and you can tap into it with tools like Kiite.
As a self-learning knowledge base, Kiite can capture those nuggets from conversations with your best reps and surface it later when others are looking for it, no time wasted.
So where does your company knowledge live? If it’s in any of these three places – or perhaps in all of these three places – breathe easy because there’s a better way.