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The Implementation of Corporate Knowledge


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Apresenta o uso de Portais Corporativos para suportar ações de Gestão do Conhecimento em organizações de conhecimento intensivo através dos casos: Bain & Company, Hill & Knowlton and Context Integration.

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The Implementation of Corporate Knowledge

  1. 1. This paper presents the results of three in-depth KM cases studies: Bain & Company, Hill & Knowlton and Context Integration. This paper examines the use of sophisticated corporate portals (CP)s by these firms to support their internal and external Knowledge Management initiatives. ! ! " #$ ! " Introduction we compare the use of corporate portal (Collins, 2001; DavyDov, 2001; Large and geographically dispersed and SAP-PriceWaterhouse, 2001) or professional service firms have always “KM Portals” by three leading applied knowledge management organizations: Bain & Company, Hill & strategies to leverage their business Knowlton and Context Integration. models. By applying Knowledge Management (KM) techniques and Methodology approaches, this is the only way that Professional Service firms can The research approach used was a become more than just the “sum of case study method. A “theory-oriented their different parts”. In the past, inductive approach was used rather however, most KM initiatives relied on than a deductive process. The traditional activities such as: training, approach we took used the building informal networks, fostering strong block method where we identified key team cultures supporting the value of research questions, both qualitative shared knowledge, personnel and quantitative to identify new transfers, etc. However, these themes, causal relationships and approaches are no longer sufficient. insights. The case studies were The demands in terms of knowledge conducted through a combination of creation, reuse and the realities of face-to-face and telephone interviews. business globalization require A structured research questionnaire professional services to apply the was sent as a pre-read and with a latest KM strategies and approaches supporting context overview of the that have been, to a great extent, research goals and objectives to enabled by the Internet. In this paper, provide time for participants to ©TerraForum Consultores 1
  2. 2. respond more effectively during the WPP Group, a $22B US company. interviews. In all cases, we interviewed H&K has significant global reach with 3-5 senior executives, and user two thousand employees operating in champions who provided the vision sixty-seven office locations in thirty- and/or were in charge of the four countries. The company strives to implementation of the knowledge leverage the Intellectual Capital of all portal project. The interviews were these offices while at the same time followed by multiple iterative review operating in a decentralized culture sessions to validate the case study with a razor sharp focus on client observations and interpretations. needs. During the interviews, a demo of the portals was also provided. More Context Integration detailed project and support documentation was also analyzed Context Integration (“CI”) is a leading before and after the interviews. Each integrator of e-business solutions. The case study took approximately four company was founded in 1992 and weeks each to collect, analyze and has its headquarters in Burlington, document the research findings, and Massachusetts. Its service line have corporate release validating the includes the integrated delivery of research. business, creative and technology design primarily for the financial and Summary of Companies’ Background media/communications sectors. The company has around 300 employees Bain & Company in six offices across the United States. Bain & Company (“Bain”) is a leading The Catalysts, Driving Factors and Brief top management-consulting firm Description of the Portals founded in 1973. The firm currently has more than 2,800 consultants Bain & Company working in 28 offices across six continents. Bain’s business mission is Bain has been early adopters of KM “to make companies more valuable and have consistently demonstrated and convert strategy and action into strong KM leadership. Although an economic performance.” The firm early searchable mainframe solution offers expertise in a number of helped to increase knowledge sharing, industries including: conglomerates, by the late mid 1990s, Bain knew that consumer products, financial services, to continue to be thought leaders, they etc and functional areas including: needed to extend their learning and strategy, e-commerce strategy, knowledge systems to the next level customers, growth, etc. utilizing web-oriented technology solutions to make it easier for Hill & Knowlton consultants to locate their most knowledgeable colleagues; find the Hill and Knowlton (“H&K”) is the newest codified insights; and access second largest public relations firm in the most relevant and updated the world and is a subsidiary of the industry data. Hence in 1997, Internet ©TerraForum Consultores 2
  3. 3. technology solutions were deployed to Bain knowledge custom-developed support their KM client delivery knowledge portal integrates two support services. A critical viewpoint separate initiatives: shaping Bain’s KM deployment Bain Virtual University (BVU), a strategies was that their senior complete web-based learning leadership embraced training and KM environment, was introduced in as a business imperative essential for 1998. By the summer of 2001, success in today’s increasingly more than 170 modules were competitive environment. An available to all employees across environment, which they saw, clients the globe. BVU’s design takes into demanding more and becoming more consideration that individuals have sophisticated everywhere. Over the different learning styles. Modules last few years, especially in fast-paced are presented in a variety of high-tech areas, industry cycles have formats, including web-based become shorter, which makes it critical power point presentations, “hands- for consultants to tap into Bain’s on exercises” (computer based knowledge real-time as it is created, training-CBT), multi-media courses regardless of location. and templates that can be used in real-life projects. When Steven Tallman, Bain Chief In 2000, Bain launched its state-of- Operating & KM Officer, took on the art KM platform, called the Global role to spearhead Bain’s global Experience Center (GXC). GXC Training and KM strategy for Bain, it can be seen as a knowledge portal was to convince other Bain partners organized around five core that they were not fully leveraging the sources of knowledge for Bain’s “knowledge of the firm”. Together with client work: other senior Bain talent, he formed a Tools: proprietary and non- core leadership team to champion proprietary frameworks, Bain’s KM strategy, execution and concepts, templates and other change management efforts. One of tools that can be applied their first challenges was to “earn their across a number of projects; budget” by convincing very fact-based Capabilities: a repository of senior consultants that it made good Bain’s proprietary insights business sense. In order to achieve across all of its key “study this, they not only set out on an types” of client work (e.g., cost “evangelizing” journey, they also built reduction, M&A, growth a strong business case pinpointing the strategy) constraints to case-team success from Industry Information: a source not having the right data, information of organized information per and access to experts at the right time. industry that combines both Through fact-based real client case internal and external sources; scenarios the logic of the implications Case, Client and People became a “wake-up” call for Bain to Information: Bain’s improved speed up their KM implementation repository (as compared to efforts. BRAVA’s) of information on previous client work. Client ©TerraForum Consultores 3
  4. 4. information is “sanitized” by and believed further investments in knowledge brokers (client KM infrastructure would help improve names are removed and data H&K globalization processes, and is disguised) to allow company- leverage strategic knowledge into high wide view, and is designed to margin repeatable activities. The facilitate tacit knowledge outcome of this meeting was unified sharing. executive support to invest in a more External Research: includes robust KM organization, and initiative access to high-value an investment process to help realize subscription databases, as well his dream. as links to top business sources, that have been pre- The evolution of value contributions of selected or suggested by the H&K’s knowledge portal is seen as the research department and/or collective brains of H&K’s employees. consultants. It is called Strategically for content creation and content Hill & Knowlton submissions H&K has adopted the view of giving people the power to add In early 1999, Tony Burgess-Webb, a content versus controlling what is member of H&K’s worldwide executive added. Everyone can contribute and committee, assessed H&K’s current participate in the process versus approach to KM and existing intranet having a centralized categorizing infrastructure and support processes. process. Recently added content is Employee surveys were conducted frequently monitored and any which confirmed their intranet had frequently requested documents are limited functionally as knowledge linked into a library for a special sourced was irrelevant, outdated and search area to highlight value content. inaccurate. In addition, the value of the End user training is conducted on a knowledge-based initiatives did not regular basis to ensure that have strong executive alignment. employees are trained to conduct the Hence, Tony proposed a new and bold search properly to use their tools vision to “Build something totally new.” effectively. H&K’s knowledge portal is He began a leadership quest to share now at the stage where the volume of a compelling vision, goals, and project knowledge has increased significantly requirements to senior management. and requires people to edit and weed In early 1999, in a general – the maintenance continuum is an management meeting where all global area for management attention to practice leaders assembled, about 60 improve the sustainability capabilities. executives, Tony shared his vision for a more robust and pervasive H&K uses an Intraspect platform to knowledge ecosystem at H&K. He support its worldwide knowledge spoke passionately about his beliefs community. Intraspect solutions that the focus on knowledge would provide web-based workspaces to benefit clients in developing stronger capture information as it is created, products and services; deliver many-to-many collaboration consistent service across the company technology to share intellectual capital ©TerraForum Consultores 4
  5. 5. across employees, customers, and scheduled interviews, plans, work- partners and suppliers, and an in-progress documents, etc). All enterprise knowledge base that grows emails related to each specific account with us. The HK.NET is the company are automatically stored in this client portal that provides immediate access folder so anyone joining the project to a number of information sources can easily follow all the major and people. It includes access to milestones, decisions and customized portals according to communications related to the project. regions of the world, a number of links Clients can also post easily to find expertise within the firm information. (directories, cases studies, biographies, global client leaders and Context Integration organized documentation about key sectors) and also several external Bruce Strong, one of the founders of news feeds that are relevant for H&K CI, explained that its knowledge business. management (KM) system is a natural outcome of the core values of the Intraspect provided a portal company and also of a clear and environment to facilitate the ease of explicit three-pronged pursuit of value content use and publishing and there creation in every activity. The core is also an ability to easily set up alerts values of CI are: deliver outstanding that can be directed to a person’s client value with integrity; invest in inbox and/or personal pages. employee growth; balance work and Documents can be submitted in a wide personal life; commit to teamwork; range of document formats (office embrace innovation. Value creation at documents, emails, newsfeeds, etc.). CI includes the perspective of the One of the capabilities of this client, the employee and the investor. knowledge collaboration environment In founding CI, Bruce and the other which was attractive to H&K is the partners set out on a journey to build ability to integrate their intranet and Intellectual Capital, and to have fun extranet and to share selected along the way. As the company information to clients via a password started to grow and expand protected site. An important attribute geographically, and with the frantic of H&K’s CKP is the support it need to tap into the latest provides to their global accounts. The technological know-how in order to value of H&K’s CKP environment is compete successfully, Bruce actively promoted in their business recognized that CI needed more than proposals and has helped secure just smart individuals and a knowledge some top global clients. These clients, sharing culture to succeed. It needed both knowledge centric in their a supporting KM platform that would business approaches, were attracted better connect the minds of the to capability to access in a organization. password-protected area H&K knowledge with external knowledge The Intellectual Assets Network, or from targeted news sources and “IAN” as it is called at CI, has filled that account activity (including on-going need. According to Bruce, in order to ©TerraForum Consultores 5
  6. 6. be useful, IAN needed to capture language, project, technology knowledge as it was being created domain and topic among others and disseminate that knowledge in - Discussions: This area includes all real-time. IAN was also designed to the on-going discussion help CI better serve its customers. As databases, representing a variety Bruce highlighted, “Although we [CI] of topics related to CI business. rely extensively on technology, we are The topics are based on not a scientific company, we are a technology, sales category, or services company”. Since its other category – the metadata is inception, the basic goal of sharing constantly evolving to meet the knowledge vertically and horizontally changing needs of the consultants within CI and within and outside the as they capture and search for walls of the organization (especially information. Employees can with clients and occasionally with subscribe to receive notification partners) has been the key driver of every time there is a new posting the continued development of the that has a topic of interest to them. architecture of IAN. Other specific They also use the discussion area objectives have also been to post documents, tips, links and incorporated in IAN over time. The also any questions. Their current inventory of goals follows. questions are automatically directed by IAN to be answered IAN was custom-developed on a “gurus” via email and pager. Lotus/Domino platform. IAN allows Questions are classified by users employees from six different offices to into one of the following categories keep connected and share ideas. according to their urgency: Employees have access to IAN from Immediate: anywhere and at anytime: from client Requires response sites, home or anywhere else they can in less than one get an Internet connection. In order to hour; access certain areas or databases of Urgent: Requires IAN, employees do not even have to response in less be connected to the Internet since than four hours; parts of IAN can be downloaded to the Routine: Requires hard drives of employees’ laptops. IAN response in less can also direct important and urgent than one business questions to experts via a pager or day; other wireless devices (such as a cell Not time-sensitive: phone, Blackberry, or Palm) IAN is Responses can be organized into the following key areas, given within one which are immediately accessed via week. the portal’s home page: - Knowledgebase: This area - Search: The Verity engine allows includes a set of documents or the user to target the search discussion threads that have been according to a number of reviewed by experts in their field parameters including author, date, and deemed to be of high-value for reuse. Only domain experts can ©TerraForum Consultores 6
  7. 7. post/upload directly to this senior management team, which collection of documents. needs to respond within a week. Documents called “road maps” are - Project artifacts: This is where posted here. These are documents employees upload all information written by domain experts or (artifacts) related to specific practice leaders that serve as a projects at certain pre-determined comprehensive introduction for milestones. Artifacts encompass a new employees or novices that broad range of intellectual assets, need to get quickly acquainted with from sales presentations to a specific domain. software codes. - Learning: This area contains all - Projects: This is the work-in- information related to the learning progress area with specific folders process at Context. Documents for each individual project. All include Curriculum Paths (a set of employees have access to all skills needed to achieve projects and documents unless % &# & ' ( ) ! ( # * competency in a particular area, otherwise stated. The links to including methods for attaining the PETE are located here. skills), pointers to internal and - Partners: A list of contacts for each external class descriptions and important CI partner is listed here. schedules, and previously Contacts are usually domain- recorded training sessions experts in a specific technology. available for playback. - Colleagues: The firm is adamant - ContextWISE – This area contains that employees keep their profiles all information related to CI’s core up to date. A digital photo is taken methodology. Descriptions of all of employees on their first day with tasks in the methodology CI, so that their initial profile can (including best practices and be set up immediately. pointers to sample deliverables) are contained here. Stated Goals - Solution Box: Allows employees to enter suggestions around any Based on our standard questionnaire, aspect of the business. The the KM leaders at Bain, H&K and CI suggestions are forwarded to the rated the goals of their respective KM/portals initiatives (table-1). ©TerraForum Consultores 7
  8. 8. Table-1: Comparison of KM Goals - Legend: ( P ) Primary Goal ( S ) Secondary Goal ( N ) Not relevant QUESTION Bain H&K CI Communication Tool (Top-Down and Bottom-up) Improve communication of vision and knowledge strategy N S S Improve communication of company values S S S Keep organization alert S S P Engage customers and community at large S P P Divulge results more broadly and promote systemic analysis P P P Facilitate bottom-up communications N S P Make it easy for employees to suggest improvements to management N N P Push Information and Knowledge to Employees Capture, organize and distribute codified knowledge (e.g. database P S P access) Improve access to external sources of information and knowledge P S S Improve decision-making N S S Empower front-line employees P S P Improve Reuse of knowledge Develop expertise maps (uncover existing knowledge) P P P Map and measure intangible assets S P S Facilitate search of previously developed knowledge P P P Foster Collaboration Increase collaboration amongst different functions of the organization P P P Increase collaboration amongst different geographies of the P P P organization Improve overall knowledge sharing P P P Support the development of Communities of Practice P P P Increase connections not related to work S S N Improve Human Capital Management Improve hiring N N N Improve internal mobility and deployment of existing employees N S S Integrate temporary and outside human resources and expertise N N N Improve training and acquisition of skills P S P Get new employees up to speed very quickly P P P Reduce time spent on menial activities S P N Improve employee retention S S P Facilitate work and integration of telecommuters N S S Improve Relationships (External stakeholders and Increase Information Flow) Improve information exchange with suppliers, partners and customers S P S Capture customer information N P P Improve customer satisfaction S P P Reduce sales costs S S P Reduce customer service costs S S P Source: interviews of KM leadership at Bain & Company, Hill & Knowlton and Context Integration The table above clearly shows that infrastructure can be implemented to although a corporate portal serve many KM needs and goals, the ©TerraForum Consultores 8
  9. 9. key priorities for the three professional Internet, itself, is a very modular service firms were to improve reuse of network that allows pieces of content knowledge (tacit and explicit), map the and applications to be seamlessly expertise held by individual integrated into existing solutions. consultants and foster higher levels of These firms took advantage of that. collaboration. Getting new employees Not only did they focus on specific up-to-speed very quickly was also a audiences, but also on specific goal that came across as very clusters of content that had depth or important (they all tended to hire a were considered strategic enough. large number of recent graduates and Hence, the taxonomy of the content young professionals who usually environment, both ease of classifying, needed to start working on tagging and searching took on a assignments of strategy importance in higher order of management focus to a very short period of time. streamline knowledge into a flexible infrastructure for continual growth. Key Lessons Learned Lesson 2: Organizational Support Lesson 1: IT does not have to be costly and modular launches make a lot of KM systems require a combination of sense technology and dedicated personnel. The level of success achieved by the The three organizations profiled in this three cases is the result of not only a paper realized that deployment of well designed system, but also of the knowledge portals do not have to be strong support offered by costly. There is no major secret to management in many areas. Senior keeping portal development costs in management showed strong support check. The keys are to concentrate on through many different ways functionality that really adds value to (speeches, direct involvement and the business, avoid costly “bells and usage, establishment of new reward whistles”, leverage existing data and metrics, etc). Very important in all systems, and roll out applications cases were also the role played by incrementally. All three organizations knowledge managers and knowledge reminded us that one of the important brokers. Although some employees lessons was not to implement web may understand that one of their applications just because it was easy responsibilities with the organization is to do so. These organizations to share and codify part of the proceeded with their modular Intellectual Capital, it is very easy for launches, only after careful analysis of this responsibility to take a “back seat” how work is conducted and how as employees worry about their daily knowledge is shared and created. tasks. In face of this situation, the They were all intensely focused on knowledge brokers are seen in all developing solutions which three organizations as the keepers of immediately added value and create the “Knowledge Codifying Process”. “stickiness” to return end-users to the They make sure that employees do environment. Closely related to this not forget to codify relevant logic is the idea of modularity. The knowledge-sharing elements of their ©TerraForum Consultores 9
  10. 10. projects, activities and tasks and in the that do not find any matches (show case of Bain and CI they also extract what people are looking for); Specific key insights (tacit knowledge) by feedback to documents and content interviewing managers at the areas from the consultants. The beginning and end of a project. The proxies and anecdotes (publicized via knowledge brokers are also key general emails or postings in the resources for employees who need a portal) of how the knowledge portals human introduction to an have helped in specific project organization’s core intellectual assets situations provide the best indirect in specific knowledge domains. solutions to determining the success Finally, knowledge brokers play an of these initiatives. There was a strong important role in organizing and belief that these actions help foster the keeping the online information up to attitudes and motivations required to date. All three companies had make the most of the KM tools. There formalized knowledge managers and was also in these three cases the knowledge brokers roles and also KM recognition of a leap of faith that this representatives in each different office. infrastructure was clearly a competitive imperative to support or sustain their growth and the belief that Lesson 3: Fostering meaningful by investing in corporate portal connections is key in professional infrastructure and developing more service firms robust knowledge management capabilities that they could leverage One of the most important areas for the whole brain of their firms globally. knowledge access was beyond simply access to best practices and service Lesson 5: Recognition and Rewards collaterals/points of view – but clearly documenting subject matter expertise, The three companies interviewed where they were, how to reach out to highlighted that peer recognition could them, what knowledge they play an important part in helping knew…The ability to rapidly talk to an fostering this desired behavior. None expert, supported by the knowledge of the companies tried only monetary infrastructure of codified knowledge – rewards, but were all experimenting together created a strong intellectual and introducing a few monetary asset base for these companies. incentives (affecting bonus or through more symbolic prizes). More than the Lesson 4: Metrics and User Satisfaction actual benefits derived from the financial rewards, we think that this In order to gauge their levels of demonstrates the power and success, these companies are using a importance of giving explicit and number of “proxies”: Portal traffic and visible recognition and rewards for activity by office and content; knowledge sharing. There was a Periodical surveys to gauge the level general belief that employees were of satisfaction of consultants with the highly motivated by the recognition various areas and applications within from their trusted colleagues that their the portal; Evaluation of search terms ©TerraForum Consultores 10
  11. 11. documents or knowledge contributions saw above, all three companies were identified as a best practice. focused on portal and KM features that were clearly linked to the sales These organizations are also sending cycles and/or that clients could clear signals that knowledge hoarding immediately see the benefits. This was and lack of participation in the KM important as it generated a lot of activities is not appropriate behavior. It energy and goodwill for the portal was also evident that at Bain and CI, implementation across all hierarchical different offices and departments are levels and offices. All three companies clearly reminded that they cannot be also agreed that web-enabling of “free riders”. They also need to routine, back-end applications could contribute to the knowledge base of have been potentially easier to the organization. Knowledge sharing implement, but would have had and knowledge codification are minimal business impact and would becoming an essential part of have generated far less interest. everyone’s job. Thus, not engaging in these activities is, increasingly, being Organizations that create and seen as not fulfilling one’s core structure knowledge portals are obligation to the organization. In Bain improving their knowledge assets. and CI, there were also formal audits Some of the cornerstone business validating contributions and adherence processes in knowledge portals design to the knowledge practice guidelines, and ongoing evolution of content are: further reinforcing how serious the information/asset management, management of intellectual assets can publishing and personalization. be and should be. Rapidly identifying assets and best practices and sharing them widely is Conclusions increasingly necessary for achieving an organization’s strategic objectives. KM is at the core of successful The learning from the professional Professional service firms. It plays an services industry are also imperative important role in making each for other knowledge intensive individual consultant perform “smarter” industries – the question should no than if he or she acted and learned longer be “what is the value of alone. It is no surprise that many of knowledge management and investing the best practices, concepts and in infrastructure to manage vocabulary used today in the KM organizational knowledge, rather the literature (mentoring, communities of question should be: “what are the practice, reuse of codified knowledge, implications to our business and the etc) evolved from the consulting firms. loss of knowledge if these strategic The web, however, introduced many investments are not made?” new opportunities to accelerate Knowledge Portals can significantly knowledge flows, provide targeted improve the connections amongst knowledge (tacit or explicit) for those people and often times may lead to who seek it, and has made it much connections that without access to a easier for knowledge owners to knowledge portal would not occur. distribute it widely, and rapidly. As we This is, of course, only the first step in ©TerraForum Consultores 11
  12. 12. the knowledge creation or sharing programas de pósgraduação e MBA e autor de process. To go to the next level, vários livros sobre o tema. Seu email é people need to be willing to cooperate and the right incentives and rewards need to be in place. Cindy Gordon é consultora internacional da TerraForum Consultores. Participa do These three case studies provide us conselho de diretores de várias empresas de with a social and operational context alta tecnologia nos Estados Unidos e Canadá. for organizational collaboration where Foi, recentemente, destacada pela University knowledge and learning are of Western em sua publicação, e é também interchanged real time. As new autora de diversos artigos e livros. networks and knowledge capabilities are developed, this organic free- flowing approach to knowledge access we believe will have fundamental impacts on business strategy, organizational processes, and technology infrastructure. As companies continue to create multi- channel capabilities, accelerate their strategic alliances, and grow their customer connections, corporate portals with the adoption of KM strategies and techniques provide knowledge intensive industries with valuable capabilities for sustaining business growth and the elasticity for continual organizational learning. References Collins, H. (2001), Corporate Portals, SAP-PriceWaterhouse (2001), The E- Business Workplace, Davydov, D.M. (2001), Corporate Portals and e-Business Integration, *** José Cláudio C. Terra é presidente + , da TerraForum Consultores. Atua Determinantes da Necessidade de Portais Corporativos como consultor e palestrante no Canadá, nos Estados Unidos, em Portais Corporativos: novo instrumento de gestão da informação Portugal, na França e no Brasil. Developing a Business Case for Corporate Portals Também é professor de vários ©TerraForum Consultores 12
  13. 13. +. , + - - A TerraForum Consultores é uma empresa de consultoria e treinamento em Gestão do Conhecimento (GC) e Tecnologia da Informação. Os clientes da empresa são, em sua maioria, grandes e médias organizações dos setores público, privado e terceiro setor. A empresa atua em todo o Brasil e também no exterior, tendo escritórios em São Paulo, Brasília e Ottawa no Canadá. É dirigida pelo Dr. José Cláudio Terra, pioneiro e maior referência em Gestão do Conhecimento no país. Além disso, conta com uma equipe especializada e internacional de consultores. / 1 + 3 -, 4 / 0 2- ,+ , . Gestão do Conhecimento e E-learning na Prática Portais Corporativos, a Revolução na Gestão do Conhecimento Gestão do Conhecimento - O Grande Desafio Empresarial Gestão do Conhecimento em pequenas e médias empresas Realizing the Promise of Corporate Portals: Leveraging Knowledge for Business Success Gestão de Empresas na Era do Conhecimento ©TerraForum Consultores 13