Marketing Planet

From knowledge management to experience sharing

Knowledge management is the solution to capture information and experience. But for marketing management, this success can only be achieved when out passing the initial technology idea and combine it with experience sharing. Discover the virtues of today’s generation of knowledge management and how to make it work for you.

Knowledge management and marketing use

Initially, knowledge management aimed to capture information and experience and, accordingly, to reply to the increase of available information. Marketing management saw the opportunities in terms of analysing consumer behaviour and creating the perfect offer. As a result, new methods of gathering information and analysing would make it possible to be ahead of competition, open new world and solve the current information problems.

At the same time technology made it possible to link various databases and connect different entities of companies, even throughout the world. Communication improvements could be created between entities and company departments by means of group intranets. Even discrimination of information accessibility would disappear, enhancing the motivation and commitment of the general staff.

Do you manage knowledge?

Today, many companies have their intranet, many even more than one. Have those companies and its employees made any significant profit out of this? It would appear that, on the contrary, it has even increased the overload of information. Intranets are too full of information, it is difficult to evaluate the hierarchy in it, and people don’t take the time to look and find all the information put available.

A frustration from both sides appears: on one side those who put all the information available but don’t find the appreciation, or the feedback, and on the other side, the supposed users who can’t find the information that they are looking for. Above all, the most important information is still being transmitted by email or phone calls, maintaining thus the discrimination of available information. In this situation it becomes difficult to optimise the capture and management of information and experience.

The awkward thing is that if you see within these companies, the need for information and experience still exists. Finding a good way to manage this information doesn’t seem to be solved by technology and the initial “knowledge management†concept. Competition has become more vivid and therewith the need of information to increase reactivity.

Outside the companies, the need to exchange and obtain information hasn’t changed neither. The information providers – by internet or not – do not seem to reply to the final needs. The mass of information is still as difficult to manage and finding quality information is not necessarily easier. How many subscribe to newsletters but don’t read them or find their contents not interesting? Specialised information is becoming available but often at very high prices.

How to manage the information and experience needs?

The need to capture information and experience still exists. Might there be a gap between the theory of knowledge management and the reality in a company and its functioning for marketing? A new generation of knowledge managers has started to think about the way a company uses and creates -new - information. For marketing efficient use, the technology “boom†has in a way omitted to take psychology into account: for managing information and experience you cannot ignore the quality of direct contact. Not all information can be formatted. In reply to this need to manage efficiently information and experiences, companies have started to join the idea of knowledge management with direct experience sharing. Different ways are explored:

Experience sharing project groups

These are projects groups where people from different functions / departments or countries work together on special topics gaining their information and experience and trying to enhance the global information and experience level. Reporting to the rest of the company and other people is only done on a periodical base, avoiding an overload of information in the “field†. The groups can include members with different backgrounds and level of experience. Groups like this may rethink the group strategy and bring new ideas. Knowledge management from this viewpoint will help to take distance from the day-to-day environment and build on the information and experience.

Organise special seminars on a topic

Within a company, your sales staff holds a mine of precious information, as well as the other people who are in contact with your field / market and customer – even potential ones. Organise special seminars for them and work together in workshops where everyone will have its place to speak and present its experiences. The participants will learn more from the exchanges and discussions during the seminar than when they would be looking for information on the intranets – if they do so. Seminars like these may bring up quality information and encourage participants to react to suggestions and issue from other participants.

Networking

Networking groups can be a very interesting leverage on information and experience sharing. Meeting people from other backgrounds and other companies represent a way of information gathering and experience sharing. Networking can be done in special groups and associations from the companies’ business activity or can be done in general networking groups. These groups can be found everywhere, but the most efficient ones do organise direct meetings as well (here too, we notice that technology cannot take away the advantages from direct – face to face contact).

Back to school

Going back to school may be a way to improve your ideas and level of understanding of business problems. It will bring you in contact with other business environments and its experiences. Case studies in this context are important as they will show you different experiences and lessons-learned. Doing a MBA can be the first thought, but it is not always the perfect answer. Besides, more and more people speak about the inflation of MBA degrees. Some other courses may be particularly interesting and more suitable, depending on the type of information you may look for. Nevertheless, a new type of MBA seems to raise interest: senior level or high level management, focusing on senior managers. The aim of most studies is to propose different points of view, different ways of thinking and academic research combined with today’s business needs.

Make knowledge management work for you

To set up an effective knowledge management, techniques like these may prove more valuable for obtaining information and experiences. Whatever type you may select, keep in mind the aim: capture and manage the information and experiences and make them useful to you. For all these however, the success doesn’t come over day. When putting people together you will need to create the environment to motivate them to speak. Create confidence and openness, proof that the relation is one of give and take. Bear in mind that sales staff will be likely to speak up, but that you will have to separate the genuine information from the sales rep’s wishes.

Create an experience sharing environment

After the comments here above on the difficulties of using an intranet, one may have questions regarding its benefits. But, an intranet can be very profitable when taking into account some “rules†:

  • try not to put too many information available
  • think of your user makes use of the intranet and when
  • adapt the structure to the way how the user looks for its information

If they don’t go there or don’t find what they are looking for, the intranet is a waste of time and energy. Improve it. Create alerts, interest profiles and search functions. Above all, use traffic statistics and have in depth meetings every now and then with the users to analyse their needs and the way the intranet replies to it. Keep it dynamic and make people want to come.

Experience sharing, the knowledge management of the future

Knowledge management can be very profitable to marketing management if it manages to direct and coordinate both the information and the experience. An efficient knowledge management results in action and creation or at least in decisions. The current generation of knowledge managers has understood the importance to combine direct contact with technology and started the "evolution" into experience sharing.

There will probably always be a lot of information to manage and to capture, but when you implicate the people in the process of sharing their experiences, you will manage to capture more valuable "data": data that will be used and that leads to creation.