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2004 Promise and Reality winners

This article appears in the issue January 2005 [Volume 14, Issue 1]

One of the best things about the KMWorld Promise and Reality awards is the opportunity they afford us to take a look at knowledge management—in the largest sense of the term—and get a snapshot of where vendors are headed with their solutions and how practitioners are deploying their initiatives. The award process gives us a chance to assess the state of the broader KM industry. We've been giving the award for four years now, and submissions in 2004 are likely the best crop yet. Overall, we received more than 100 submissions, and we highlighted the finalists last month (p. 20). So, it's time to acknowledge the winners.

KM Promise Award

Many companies promise that their technology is the best knowledge management solution. One of the greatest challenges for organizations purchasing such technology is to determine which companies will deliver on that promise. This award is given to an organization that is delivering on its promise to customers by providing innovative technology solutions for implementing and integrating knowledge management practices into their business processes. The award-winning company demonstrates how it goes beyond simply delivering technology to working with clients to ensure that both the technology and knowledge processes are imbedded into the work processes. In other words, it helps organizations realize positive business results.

KnowNow

KnowNow's event-driven integration software enables enterprises to go beyond the traditional boundaries of integration middleware and deliver information to the people who need it, when they need it. Its standards-based, loosely coupled, event-driven solutions integrate the extended enterprise securely, through firewalls over native HTTP.

KnowNow has approximately 35 employees and is privately held, with backing from Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers, Levensohn Venture Partners, Palomar Ventures, TPG Ventures and Wachovia Strategic Ventures. KnowNow is a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, a contributing member of OASIS and has an established channel of solution partners who deliver solutions to a wide variety of industries.

How does the technology differ?

Technologies used to manage knowledge within an enterprise vary greatly. Event-driven technologies, used to empower business users with the ability to act with the most up-to-date, critical data in hand, are on the leading edge of the knowledge management space—sharing data among both databases and business users in real time.

However, conventional, event-driven solutions using publish/subscribe messaging technology do not support the loosely coupled connections required to connect systems, applications and people across physical boundaries to include the extended enterprise.

KnowNow solutions are designed to address the challenges and complexities of the event-driven application integration outlined above by providing real-time information to business users, to the desktop and beyond—ultimately reducing latency and operating costs.

Promises and how they are delivered

KnowNow promises to provide integration software that connects systems, applications and databases to people quickly and easily, providing immediate visibility into business-critical information as it changes. It promises to leverage the value of existing IT investments without disruption and to eliminate traditional boundaries of integration by using publish-subscribe over HTTP(S) to deliver the relevant information to the people who need it—whether that information is delivered within databases, to a desktop or mobile device.

This promise is delivered through providing that advanced technology quickly and working closely with channel partners and customers to understand the knowledge management needs of business users within their organization—and addressing those specific challenges with the best solution.

How demonstrated

PC manufacturer Fujitsu faced a problem of an inaccurate and slow sales reporting process resulting in erroneous commissions. The company needed to connect data from both distributors and its sales force to facilitate a more efficient distribution and inventory management process.

Using technology from KnowNow, Fujitsu is now able to view changes as they happen—in the Fujitsu ERP system and on employee and distributor desktops through KnowNow-enabled Excel spreadsheets. With KnowNow LiveServer and LiveSheet connectors, data is updated in real time—capturing changes as they happen and enabling users to act with the most up-to-date information. There is no longer a need for the error-prone process of e-mailing spreadsheets.

KnowNow enables Fujitsu with real-time sales tracking from more than 400 resellers, as well as aggregation of that data into a single source. By automating the distribution of information between spreadsheets and its ERP system, Fujitsu is enabling its resellers and sales managers with real-time data, enabling them to spend more time selling. The new process ensures timely and accurate compensation and reporting, better relationship management, and more than 20 hours saved per week that each sales manager can now spend driving new business instead of cutting and pasting sells between spreadsheets.

The company is now enabled with real-time forecasting and can avoid overpayment of commissions. In essence, by using KnowNow, the IT team at Fujitsu took the company to the edge and beyond by connecting not only their internal sales team but also their external distributors.

KM Reality Award

McAfee

With headquarters in Santa Clara, Calif., McAfee creates best-of-breed computer security solutions that prevent intrusions on networks and protect computer systems from the next generation of blended attacks and threats. With two families of products—McAfee System Protection Solutions, securing desktops and servers, and McAfee Network Protection Solutions, ensuring the protection and performance of the corporate network—McAfee offers computer security to large enterprises, governments, small and medium businesses and consumers.

Why was KM initiated?

McAfee's customer support organization is driven by one mission: to achieve and sustain the highest customer loyalty, satisfaction and responsiveness ratings. In summer 2002, it faced the significant challenge of deflecting calls that were flooding its contact center to its Web site, without any negative effect on customer satisfaction. Determined to supplement its telephone-based technical support with a strong self-service strategy, McAfee launched its PrimeSupport Service Portal. The new portal was designed to make it just as easy for customers to submit and track mission-critical requests online as it is to pick up the phone.

McAfee defined the following goals as part of its strategy:

1. Integrate McAfee's content repositories with a single, unified knowledge management platform.

2. Improve the customer experience on its Web site through personalization and incident submission.

3. Implement an analytic infrastructure to enable rigorous customer feedback process.

Measurements and impact

McAfee's support organization employs 500 support professionals, handles 275,000 cases per month and supports approximately 300 products. Given the challenge ahead of it, the group established five metrics goals to focus on and measure its actions:

1. Increase unique registered users by 10% annually.

2. Maintain or decrease incoming call volume.

3. Achieve 50% resolution rate on knowledgebase article surveys.

4. Drive cost of Web support sessions to less than $2.

5. Improve "solution-found" success rate to 60% for all major products.

Competencies developed

1. Improved knowledge capture targeted at knowledge gaps.

2. Auto-tagging of context—which reduced total cost of ownership.

3. Better content integration due to flexible KM and support for content contribution models from different groups.

Outcomes and benefits

1. Using Kanisa Support Site , McAfee has created a single, unified knowledge platform that integrates and auto-categorizes disparate knowledge repositories from across the enterprise. The "next-generation knowledgebase" enables customers to easily access information regardless of where it resides. Unlike first-generation knowledgebases, Kanisa's "guided diagnostic search" puts a larger universe of valuable support content at customers' fingertips, including: authored solution articles (from legacy knowledgebase); FAQs, documentation and other product information; industry-leading virus library; and Network Attack Encyclopedia.

2. With a team of site developers at McAfee and Support Site, McAfee has exceeded all its service level, adoption rate, customer satisfaction metrics and call deflection goals:

  • Web site use grew by 116% from 2002 to 2003.

  • Registered users have more than doubled.

  • Transactions per registered user are up 140%.

  • Customer loyalty and satisfaction are at or near all-time high.

  • 2003 call volume is down 10.4% despite growing installed base.

3. Previously, customers could only search authored knowledgebase solutions. With Kanisa Support Site, all knowledge is integrated into a single, structured view, supporting a single, guided search experience.

4. Kanisa analytics identify critical support opportunities and root causes:

  • What are customers searching for that they cannot find an answer?
  • Do new solutions need to be created or can we improve the search function?

  • What solutions are most helpful? How can we proactively help other customers?

  • What are customers' issues with our products? How can those root causes improve our products?

5. With Kanisa, McAfee now also has the ability to enable customers to personalize their support pages based on their individual support needs:

  • Customers can personalize their self-service experience to best fit their requirements. Each customer receives a grant number when they purchase McAfee's products/support. It entitles them to the appropriate support level and product(s) on the site and drives faster resolution by eliminating unnecessary product information.

  • Virus Alert Notifications warn customers of crucial security events such as virus alerts (high, medium and low threats), vulnerabilities (high, medium and low threats), product patches and update information. The alerts are sent via e-mail, phone, fax, SMS and pager, depending on the customer's preference.

  • The user profile section of the site allows for configuration of user information, password changes, grant number maintenance and their preferred notification format.

6. 24/7 customer case submission enables customers to leverage a single environment to resolve their questions.

  • Prior to submission, Kanisa will automatically search and suggest possible content to resolve an incident.
  • If a customer chooses to submit the case, it routes to the best-suited technician at one of seven major support centers worldwide. Customers can view their case activity, sort case information and provide further information if necessary. Customers are alerted to new case activity via e-mail when they log in.


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