In the past, most of the data of an organization was used by two groups: on the one hand, management needed critical information to make strategic decisions and track the performance of their business and on the other hand, data specialists were responsible for gathering and analyzing trends and opportunities to support the choices of the former. This is best illustrated with the example of SharePoint: since its release in 2001, it has become the most popular tool for knowledge management, used by 80% of Fortune 500 companies and in which data specialists share their knowledge in silos in order to help team leaders to make effective decisions.
However, companies are realizing that the data landscape has changed and that a document repository is not necessarily an effective knowledge management system. In Knowledge Management & The SharePoint Era, Brandon Gadoci stated that “A knowledge base is not just a document repository — it’s a body of knowledge that is continuously evolving. Knowledge consists of answers shared by experts, information hidden away in emails, ideas and feedback found in article comments and community forum discussions”. Exposure to data in document directories is often limited, delayed and intermittent.
In the current digital age, we see companies that rely more and more on data to effectively drive their operations. From Marketing to Supply Chain, they all use different data and information to discover new opportunities, drive higher profits and increase their responsiveness to market changes. Management is therefore willing to empower all their workers by putting all meaningful information and insights at their hands. Democratizing data is not just about chasing data for data’s sake but rather accumulating many viewpoints so that businesses can solve real issues.
However, as sexy as it sounds, democratizing information comes with two main challenges.
The first one is the use of an agreed taxonomy and dependency structure that is common and unique to the whole organization to enable effective retrieval. This is where lies most of the strength of a Knowledge Management tool since data can only improve business decisions if employees are able to find and make sense of the right information when it is needed. One of the shortcomings of SharePoint is that each team can import their taxonomy which ends up in different languages spoken between the person that has the information and the person that needs it. The result: poor search capabilities. Elqano uses Artificial Intelligence to define an overall company unique taxonomy, leveraging the needs of the whole organization while incorporating language specific terms from different locations and departments. Our software uses a complex process of synonyms, semantic analysis and dependencies to effectively categorize information. This enables users to move from finding information to finding the exact information they need.
The second is the fear of employees misinterpreting the data and making wrong decisions which often leads to restricted accesses being put in place. The result is illustrated by Brent Dykes in The Age of Data Democratization: “As a result, more business questions end up funneling through the analytics team for answers. Unfortunately, analytics teams often can't scale sufficiently to handle the increasing volume of data-related questions coming from internal users. As these business users grow frustrated that they can't get answers when they need them, they may give up waiting and revert to flying blind without data.” In this sense, users need a dynamic platform that gathers collective intelligence and all previous Q&A interactions with experts so that the whole organization has access to the most updated and precise information to do their work. Using the same technology as Netflix or Facebook recommendation and feed algorithms, Elqano stores and promotes the most relevant Q&A interactions between questioners and recipients so that employees do not have multiple versions of the “truth”. Acting as a single source of truth, Elqano ensures that outdated data is eliminated while relevant content is pushed to the right employee.
With those two challenges overcome, companies will be able to achieve a true competitive age by making information and data increasingly accessible. Curious how Elqano could help your organization turn data democratization into profits? Feel free to contact us using our contact form in our website.