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5 Ways to Make Your Company More Innovative and Future-Proof through Knowledge Sharing

by Konrad Gulla 05/20/2021

ShiftHappens

At the beginning of the last decade, market research firm IDC estimated that 1.2 zettabytes (1.2 million million gigabytes) of new data would be created in 2010. By 2020, it predicted a 44-fold growth to 35 zettabytes. Even before 2017, we reached a growth of zettabytes. An updated forecast, therefore, assumes a growth of 175 zettabytes by the year 2025.

For companies and their employees, this exponentially rising flood of data makes it more and more challenging to efficiently find the right information and not get distracted in the process. When companies do not facilitate the smooth exchange of information and leave employees to fend for themselves, employees waste productivity and miss key opportunities as they drown in the volumes of data and information. Companies must support and empower their people through information exchange processes and automation.

The relationships between employees in an organization improve significantly if they share and manage knowledge properly, regardless of whether they work across the hall in the same department or on different teams across the globe. This is because knowledge sharing improves communication between employees, both within and across departments.

Improving inter-departmental relationships and knowledge sharing also directly promotes innovation within a company. New ideas usually emerge between individual disciplines. For this reason, promoting easier ways to exchange knowledge and expertise increases the innovative power and thus also the future adaptability of the organization.

So, how do you do this? Here are five factors that can positively influence knowledge sharing in your company:

 

1. Identify the most successful project and problem-solving experiences and make them reusable.

After teams successfully complete a project or solve a challenge, companies should give them sufficient time to talk through, document, and share their learnings. These should be evaluated and stored in a "best practices" database. Only if this knowledge is saved in a digital form can it be found later or evaluated by algorithms.

When effective approaches to emerging projects and solutions to recurring problems are developed and made available, other teams in the company can quickly identify and apply them. In the future, AI-powered pattern recognition and the resulting automation will significantly support employees in this process. This promotion of successful activities and avoidance of less successful or redundant work through proper knowledge management saves time and budget, optimizes work processes, and reduces the potential for employee frustration.

 

2. Optimize the discovery and application of existing knowledge in new knowledge creation

When employees need to solve a new problem or understand an emerging topic, they usually start by researching available information and resources that will support their subsequent decision-making. Without the right tools, this critical research is severely hampered. People must search through seemingly innumerable sources, sift through masses of available information and heterogeneous data, and solicit information from others – assuming they know whom to ask. Delays due to unshared knowledge have a major impact on project timelines. 66 percent of all such delays last up to a week, and 12 percent last a month or longer.

However, when employees are supported in discovering, collecting, evaluating, and sharing new knowledge through smart software solutions, this leads to decisions being made on a better knowledge basis and also means that, through the repeated use of knowledge, future decisions can be based on relevant experience.

 

3. Support growth by encouraging innovative behavior

Most companies have broad goals to increase revenue and valuation. Often this means outperforming competitors or creating differentiation through innovation. By properly managing knowledge, employees can gain access to valuable information to both elevate performance and better contribute to the company's ability to innovate.

Exposing employees to premium information and emerging ideas across subject areas creates a favorable environment for innovation and discovery. Understanding how problems have been solved by another team or in another industry often inspires new adaptation and iterations of the creative and problem-solving processes. And while companies can't necessarily manufacture these innovative moments, they can create the conditions that make them occur with greater frequency.

By creating an organization that actively supports the transfer of knowledge, you are not only able to focus more effectively on market demands, but the increased innovative power of your business positions you to capture new revenue opportunities and secure the future viability of the company.

 

4. Improve knowledge sharing with your customers and clients.

Customers value companies that demonstrate extensive expertise and the ability to translate that expertise into higher-value products and services delivered on time and on budget. Knowledge sharing both elevates employees’ know-how and raises your standing with customers. This increases customer confidence, conversion rates, and the quality and timeliness with which you deliver products and services. All of which leads to higher profits and, of course, satisfied customers!

For professional services and consulting businesses for whom knowledge is currency, creating effective methods to transfer knowledge and engage customers is essential. But even if there is no direct knowledge sharing with customers, demonstrating expertise is often enough to enjoy increased customer confidence which is as key to winning complex projects as it is for when unforeseen problems arise.

 

5. Reduce the loss of existing expertise.

Domain knowledge is an important asset in any organization and must be properly leveraged and managed. By sharing knowledge, companies can capture explicit and tacit knowledge to capitalize on the knowledge of their people and mitigate brain drain when people move on to another team, region, or company.

A July 2018 Workplace Knowledge and Productivity Report collected data on more than 1,000 U.S. employees and found that "42 percent of institutional knowledge is unique to the individual". That means critical knowledge and know-how is specific to an employee and not shared by any of his or her colleagues. If that employee leaves their job or is unavailable for other reasons, their colleagues will not be able to do 42 percent of that work.

To understand how this affects your business, do a little self-test by answering the following questions:

  • What would be the impact if your key employees from Finance, IT, Manufacturing, Sales, HR, and/or Marketing were not available today?
  • Would key processes be compromised?
  • How many projects would be negatively impacted?
  • How many of your customers would be negatively impacted?

By creating knowledge-sharing best practices, companies can capture more of this know-how both to transfer it to others and preserve the functionality of critical operations when people inevitably are not available.

For more information and to learn how you can better leverage knowledge in your business, visit https://www.keeeb.com.