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Organizations reap benefits from a knowledge-enhancing Web experience

This article appears in the issue April 2014 [Volume 23, Issue 4]
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Companies are using knowledge management to improve the Web experience of customers in life sciences, professional services, mortgage lending and a host of other industries.

Life Technologies a global biotech company based in California, was looking to expand its business to China, Japan and developing markets in 2012, says Richard Milne, the company's global director of e-commerce and digital marketing. The company's website, running on the Adobe platform, had always been available to people, enabling them to access different information, but it didn't meet the advanced needs of information sharing for the expanding company, according to Milne. "As we moved into new geographies, we needed to have better flexibility, tracking and translation," he says.

The company decided to add Adobe's Experience Manager, which provides a social media platform and analytics, translations, integrated media and other features that meld with the rest of the Adobe suite to help the company with its digital marketing efforts to its client base. It took a number of months to go live with the product due to the sheer size of the information that had to be ported to the platform.

"We had more than 11,000 pages that we were moving." Milne says. "We were doing an entire overhaul, consolidating 150 domains. We did it with next to zero downtime."

Experience Manager also features embedded workflows that weren't available in the other portions of the Adobe suite, Milne adds. The workflows and translations enabled users to work independently and in their local languages, which was critical, particularly in China, Milne says.

As a result of its use of Adobe Experience Manager and other efforts, Life Technologies has more than doubled its e-business in China and Japan, and has enjoyed a significant boost in Web traffic in those nations and in developing countries.

"We've made several good decisions," Milne says. "We expect to continue to develop the platform with even more dynamic content and community modules. The other thing that we will do is continue along the path of integration, so that all of the information will be integrated together and available [to users] regardless of which channel they use. We still have a ton of room to grow from an enhancement perspective and from an integration perspective." 

Fixing slow searches

The American Society of Anesthesiologists, an organization that provides educational content, information and advocacy support for its 51,000 members, was using a search tool on its site that was proving to be increasingly unworkable, says Daniel Barron, the organization's IT director.

"We spent a lot of money and a lot of time on the search engine, but it flat out wasn't working," he says. "It couldn't find some content. It couldn't handle large PDFs. It was not technically sustainable from a business standpoint."

The organization's members are doctors, not technicians, so the new search engine had to be easy to use, adds Barron, who had joined the organization in October 2012. After trying to make the legacy search engine tenable, by April 2013, he had enough, so he went to an enterprise search conference to look for a better solution.

What Barron found was Coveo and its search technology, which is designed to place relevant content in front of site visitors based on their past preferences and visits.

"They offered competitive pricing. The software was easy to maintain—you don't need a programmer to make changes to the system," Barron says. The Coveo application also offers easy integration with Sitecore, the organization's Web-based content management system.

The deal was signed at the end of May, and the system went live about six weeks later, according to Barron, who praised the ease of connectivity of the search engine. The benefits were readily apparent.

"Almost immediately, we had five times as many people using the search tools. People are finding content that they couldn't find before," Barron says. He tested Coveo and the legacy system side by side before the latter was completely shut down. The new system was not only faster than the old search engine, it also was more successful at finding the right information. As a result, calls to member services have dropped more than 20 percent, according to Barron.

The next phase of the implementation will include more intuitive search tools, which should make search even easier for users, meaning a further drop-off of calls to member services, according to Barron.

Helping with new rules

Knowledge management is essential in making Web-based applications work efficiently and smoothly, particularly those that need to stay fluid due to industry conditions. This is particularly true in lending, which has been in a state of flux over the last five years due to the recent financial crisis.

As a result of the large number of mortgage defaults ensuing from a combination of factors such as questionable loans, a falling real estate market and a recessionary economy, financial regulators and legislators have taken several steps to lessen the possibility of such a crisis reoccurring.

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