Don't Lose Your Mind Share

By Eric Berkman, CIO |  Software

Graham says that accessing stored e-mails increases overall efficiency. For
example, when new members join projects, the first thing they do is read the e-mail
archive to get up to speed on the client engagement. "The client likes this because
they're not paying for the new person to become educated, and we like it because it
lowers the cost of replacing employees," says Graham.

HK.net's look is also customized for each client. When clients log on to their
hK.net channel, they see their own logo, as well as folders arranged to suit their
preferences. "Hill & Knowlton didn't want clients to log on to a generic space that
just says 'hK.net,'" says Jim Pflaging, Intraspect's president and CEO. "They wanted
something where once you're in, it looks as if your agency has created a unique,
private place."

Knowledge from within and without

Expert Analysis by Tom Davenport

I will grudgingly admit that the public relations business is heavily dependent on knowledge; though having been the victim of many a press release, I'm not sure how accurate PR knowledge is. Independent of its truth value, however, knowledge at a company like Hill & Knowlton still needs to be created, captured, stored, shared and distributed, and there is undoubtedly a lot of content to be managed.

A few things are distinctive about this case. First, it is still somewhat unusual to have a group of senior executives who will devote a major meeting to knowledge-management concerns, and that's what Hill & Knowlton's advisory group did. The company is also unusual in paying so much attention to knowledge for and about clients. Clients are obviously an important resource for any professional services business, but I have found that most organizations are too inwardly focused to give clients access to the knowledge they need. It's also impressive that Hill & Knowlton has devoted one of its internal knowledge "channels" to client-oriented knowledge.

The inclusion of archived e-mail in hK.net (is it ever confused with Hong Kong?) is an unusual and interesting approach, but one that raises some concerns. There's little doubt that e-mail now embodies much of any organization's knowledge, but it certainly isn't a very efficient packaging mechanism. I suspect that the archive will become quite voluminous over time, necessitating a human pruner to edit the useless content.

Furthermore, the system seems to rely heavily on individuals remembering to add key e-mails to the archive. A little button that pops up when an employee sends an e-mail to a client address saying "Would you like to add this to the client knowledge archive?" would be very helpful.

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