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The expanding world of knowledge management

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Technologies that enable knowledge management cover a wide range of functions, from customer experience to governance and compliance, and continue to become more sophisticated. Some, such as content management and search, are long-time solutions that have evolved far beyond their initial capabilities. Others, such as AI and text analytics, are finding new uses supporting applications such as chatbots and the analysis of social media—types of content that did not exist a decade ago. Most are showing annual growth rates of about 12% to 20%, outstripping growth in other industries. Companies working toward digital transformation will find many options available to support them, but should take a “back to basics” approach to ensure that the foundation for their data-driven decisions is well-governed.

Customer experience

Without a doubt, personalization has taken the lead in discussions about customer experience. Personalization seeks to match the information delivered to a prospective customer as closely as possible with their interests and needs, across any channel that the customer opts to use. The availability of data about an individual customer or groups of similar customers—combined with the ability to automate the delivery of advertisements, additional offers, and other content—has resulted in very specific targeting. Many studies show significant ROI and lifts in sales. Some recommendation engines have been spectacularly successful. The ability to know the customer is a linchpin of successful marketing, and research indicates that customers appreciate being provided with information relevant to their particular situation.

But personalization has many challenges. Not every company has adequate data to support a personalization initiative, or the resources to implement one. In particular, the data management required to integrate information to provide a complete picture of the customer is significant. Developing an information architecture to provide a complete enterprise view of data is an essential step. Customer data platforms can unify customer data from multiple systems, but other types of data are also important. In order to promote products that might be a match for a customer, for example, product information systems must be kept up-to-date and mapped against customer history.

Moreover, customers are becoming increasingly sensitive about sharing personal information and more aware of the trade-off with privacy in exchange for relevance. Gartner expects that by 2025, 80% of marketers will abandon their personalization efforts, based on difficulties with data collection, integration, and protection. This prediction may serve as a wake-up call for companies to get their data houses in order or present an opportunity for vendors to better facilitate the development and implementation of personalization programs.

Voice interactivity is increasing, and a majority of customers use voice search to research products. Gartner predicts that this year, 30% of web browsing sessions will not use screens, but will use either voice assistants or virtual reality. In addition, Gartner predicts that this year, 25% of all customer service and support operations will utilize voice-recognition technologies such as chatbots and virtual customer assistants, up from 2% in 2017.

Interactive voice response (IVR) is frequently a component of the customer experience, although studies consistently show that the majority of customers dislike it. However, with good design—such as applying it to simple issues and providing the option of a live agent at each step—it can be efficient and save call center time. When customers call in, some IVR systems can look up the phone number and determine that it is a mobile phone; it can ask if the user would prefer to communicate by text—a preferred channel for Millennials.

The rise of content services

The use of content services shifts the focus of enterprise content management from maintaining repositories to a focus on the use cases for content, including contract management, marketing, customer service, product development, and collaboration. Content services platforms (CSPs) typically specialize in multiple verticals, and some content services applications are specific to a particular function. The services may be coordinated through a product suite or integrated via APIs, and the content may originate from one repository or multiple sources.

Forrester cites four key elements as desirable in content services: 1) collaborative content services that include file sharing inside and outside the organization and integration with office productivity suites; 2) support for high-volume transactions; 3) repository services, including lifecycle management of content, metadata capability, and search and governance support across content systems; and 4) automated categorization and insight extraction.

Contract lifecycle management (CLM) systems are an example of a content service that adds value in multiple ways. The systems store contracts and provide data to other enterprise systems that are used to purchase products and invoice customers. AI tools allow for automated importing and metadata tagging. CLM systems provide analyses of existing contracts to produce basic statistics and also to help reveal risks and identify missing content. Finally, they support the development of new contracts and maintain version control of the documents.

The content services platform market is predicted to grow to $63 billion by 2024, with an annual growth rate of nearly 20% from 2018 to 2024, according to Research and Markets. The ability of CSPs to span multiple data silos, incorporate and automate complex processes, and meet the needs of a cross section of stakeholders will sustain this growth.

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