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KM: looking to the future

This article appears in the issue January/February 2018 [Volume 27, Issue 1]
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Knowledge management will find an almost unlimited number of applications in healthcare, and many of them have to do with data accuracy. Ultimately, healthcare analytics applications may become self-reviewing, meaning that they detect errors in treatment, much as prescription services already identify drugs that have adverse interactions if taken together, only on a much larger scale. The challenges of using analytics on healthcare data are significant, however, partly due to the difficulty of reconciling multiple data sources.

Electronic health records (EHRs), which have limitations in their ability to capture complex data, might not match up with patient-reported symptoms. Data quality needs to be built in from the ground up, but once the data is accurate, knowledge management tools can be used to determine whether the treatment given to a particular patient is likely to be the most effective. That will bring healthcare one step closer to being fully personalized and reduce the likelihood of preventable medical errors.

It’s all about the customer

The goal of providing a 360-degree view of the customer has been elusive, in large part because the data is scattered among different and incompatible databases. In the case of a retailer, for example, purchase history would be in one database, interactions with customer service in a customer relationship management (CRM) system, and email in a document management system. Clickstream data that provides clues about a customer’s interests would be stored in yet another system.

A relatively new approach to dealing with fragmented data is the customer data platform (CDP), which integrates information from those diverse sources into one repository.

Unlike traditional data warehouses, CDPs are intended for use by marketers and other business professionals rather than by analysts.

Seth Earley, CEO of Earley Information Science (EIS), explains, “These systems provide a new and streamlined way for marketers to interact with the tidal wave of data that is collected about customers. CDPs allow marketers to build profiles, launch campaigns and evaluate the effectiveness of different marketing strategies.” CDPs are an emerging product category that fills an unmet need in the market.

But it’s about the workforce, too

Results of study after study show that talent management is a top concern of CEOs globally. Many of the CEOs report that they plan to change their strategies for attracting and retaining talent, but they have difficulty doing so. Employee development is not sufficiently aligned with organizational needs, and learning is not keeping up with changes in the workplace.

“Talent management is much more complex and scientific than HR is geared to handle,” says Douglas Weidner, CEO of the KM Institute. “Another issue is that employee engagement is typically only around 25 to 30 percent, which is a problem because organizational success is closely tied to having people love what they do. KM isn’t just about knowledge-sharing systems—a present emphasis, but ultimately KM will be about how to transform all employees into personal knowledge managers.”

Some studies indicate a shift away from assuming that the right talent will be readily available on the market to one of focusing on developing talent internally. Success will revolve around effective information sharing and pushing the right learning content to employees at the right time.

“Knowledge management is the transformative catalyst that will get us into the knowledge age,” Weidner says. “Everyone from the CEO to the lowest level employee has to be aligned with that for it to work.”

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