The Power of Knowledge

In the 16th century (an odd place to start for a technology blog I know) Sir Francis Bacon remarked, “Scientia potestas est” which means “knowledge is power”.

Sir Francis, like many others, believed that anything can be achieved through the acquisition of knowledge.

Fast forward to today, and we’re living in a very competitive, business-orientated environment. Market dominance is the holy grail for most.

How do you get there?

Many visionary business leaders believe that a major factor is being able to share best practices and expertise across an organisation and among its individuals. For example, in 1996 Bill Gates wrote his famous ‘Content is King’ article which argued that the more educated employees and customers are, the less money/time needs to be spent on internal training and customer support.

More and more, businesses are adopting strategies and systems which allow them share knowledge easily across the company. This could be key information on customers (who likes to be contacted in which way, current opportunities etc.) or market information – the possibilities are endless.

Possibly one of the best examples of a knowledge sharing platform is the solution we built for our customer Home Group.

Home Group are a social enterprise and are one of the UK’s largest providers of housing and supported services, managing over 55,000 homes. In order to better help their customers, we built a SharePoint solution with a Nintex add on which collected information into a searchable hub with automated process steps.

So now customers call in with an issue, Home Group’s advisors know exactly what questions to ask and how to deal with it quickly, no matter what the problem is. An overall much improved customer experience.

To accumulate knowledge, we need Data. Data can be considered as a meaningless raw material for knowledge. That’s where it all starts. And here comes my role, or probably I should say TSG’s role:

I would say this, but thankfully it’s widely agreed that Information & Communication Technology (ICT) plays a crucial role in facilitating knowledge management…i.e. making sure the right people are taking in the right information.

But it’s more than that. Data is more important than it’s ever been. In fact some of the biggest companies today are built on it, and very little else. Check out this slide from IBM:

The key is making the data useful, so it then becomes knowledge. And that’s where technology comes in.

Microsoft SharePoint is widely adopted as a ‘Knowledge Repository’ in many organisations. However, the capabilities of SharePoint has proven over the years that it can be a far more sophisticated system that simply a repository. Its presentation flexibility and ability to integrate with different systems makes it an efficient impersonal information and knowledge sharing platform.

Home Group is one example of a business using SharePoint to make the most of their data. Expro, an oil and gas solutions provider, is another.

Expro’s library of 40,000 documents had become excessively complicated to manage. Many of those documents were health and safety related and were often updated on a regular basis. It was crucial that when a document was needed, it was the most up to date version.

We built a system using Microsoft SharePoint that ensured its 5000 strong workforce were no longer reliant on silo’d knowledge systems and over-reliance on manual processes.

That’s a very simple way of describing it – it’s worth checking out the case study for the full story.

And as you might be wondering, I haven’t mentioned anything about ICT’s role in the expertise bit in the pyramid! New flourishing technologies like Augmented Reality are focusing mainly on converting information as well as knowledge into a more living experience.

As Augmented Reality starts to become more commercialised, we’ll see more examples of data being used to gain knowledge and develop expertise in very new and different ways.  For example, here’s Microsoft’s HoloLens in action:

For those who haven’t heard about Augmented Reality (AR), AR is a very similar to its more well-known cousin: Virtual Reality. VR differs by creating virtual environments from scratch, whilst AR enhances the real environment with virtual objects that can include visual animations, sounds, written instructions or static images.

At the end of the day, technology development has no limits.  It keeps evolving with human (and businesses) needs. The question here is, who will adopt it to become a pioneer of knowledge (just like Home Group and Expro) and make an impact in their market?