KM for the future: strategic outlook, smooth launch
SAS GRC Solution consolidates the numerous risks and provides reporting that reflects the current status of each one. That process helps both the executive level and the operational level employees see multiple risks in context. However, success in managing risks depends on more than the software. "Ultimately, someone has to act on the information," Rogers emphasizes. "The software provides the framework and the rigor in evaluating risks that is the basis for decisions, but at some point the information must be put to use."
Cloud-based applications have provided the opportunity to get up and running quickly, and with little or no IT overhead. Collaboration has been one of the most successful areas to emerge over the past few years. The Cheltenham Borough Council is a government organization in the United Kingdom that provides services to residents in an area about 100 miles west of London. Given an environment of reduced funding, the council wanted to maintain the same level of services as in the past by increasing efficiency. One method was to set up shared services with other district councils.
"Businesses are experiencing a content explosion, and we believe that increasingly they will demand more value
from data than simple content repositories can deliver."
By centralizing such functions as finance, HR, payroll and procurement, the councils could use a common enterprise resource planning (ERP) system and reduce expenses. However, to do so, the council needed to collaborate with colleagues who were geographically dispersed, some by 80 miles. Sharing information via e-mail was inefficient, and face-to-face meetings were time-consuming, so the council began looking for a collaboration platform that would allow several councils to share services.
The council considered a variety of options that would meet its need for a cost-effective collaboration solution. "We wanted a software product that could be deployed quickly and without a major build-out of infrastructure," says Christopher Cox, program manager at the Cheltenham Borough Council. "In addition, we wanted one that did not require a significant learning curve."
Huddle, a cloud-based solution, met the criteria that had been set out, and the council was up and running within a matter of days after signing up. "The product is very intuitive," Cox says, "and users did not require any training, although we did provide an overview so people could see the ways in which it could be used and how to perform basic operations such as uploading documents." New participants are added via an invitation. The ease of use has been one of the most beneficial aspects of the product. "We have had no trouble getting buy-in from our users," Cox adds.
The councils frequently use Huddle in the development of a business case for purchases. "We have different functional teams that contribute toward these cases," explains Cox. "Legal, finance and the business unit all need to provide their input." Employees can access the relevant documents from Huddle, make amendments and notify others on the team that it has been updated. "We no longer have to spend time figuring out what the latest version of the document is," he says.
A recent trend among users in the group of councils is to utilize the forum feature more regularly. "People are very familiar with social media at this point," Cox says, "so our employees are comfortable with online discussions." The forums are used primarily to share insights about the business cases for various expenditures. Huddle also has mobile capability, allowing access via iPhone, iPad and Android devices, another important feature for today's mobile workforce.
The ease of use of Huddle was an essential principle in its development. Huddle founder and CEO Alastair Mitchell says, "Due to the consumerization of IT, people expect power as well as simplicity and will not put up with a cumbersome piece of software." The impetus for the development of the Huddle collaboration software was Mitchell's own experience with other collaboration platforms.
"The increase in file sharing in consumer cloud storage services and social media was an indicator of this need," he says, "but these products lack the security and reliability that is essential for widespread, IT-approved enterprise use. We incorporated ISO 27001-certified security protocols and a 99.9 percent uptime guarantee into Huddle, and now have more than 100,000 customers, including Fortune 500 and central governments throughout the world."
Another forward-looking feature of Huddle is its ability to proactively recommend content appropriate to each user. "Our intelligent recommendation engine, found in Huddle Sync and our iOS apps, figures out what documents you should be looking at and pushes them out proactively," says Mitchell. Some of the recommendations are activity-based, some are people-based and some are content-based.
"Businesses are experiencing a content explosion, and we believe that increasingly they will demand more value from data than simple content repositories can deliver. Intelligent, predictive knowledge management will enable workers to interact with relevant content whenever and wherever they need it, and on any device," predicts Mitchell.
The sophistication of KM solutions is increasing and so is the ease of use, allowing any organization with vision and motivation to put them to use. "Definitions of KM naturally evolve over time," says Greenes. "What has not changed is the intent-to use the collective know-how, experience and insights that are growing across the organization to promote innovation, efficiency and effectiveness."