Published: September 17, 2015 - 08:00

Enterprise Search Trumps Knowledge Management!

Re-postet from

The Roland Berger study "Wer teilt, gewinnt" (He who shares, wins) puts it in a nutshell: digital information is the oil of the 21st century. And with today’s ever-expanding interconnectivity (buzzword: IoT) and the development of new sources (e.g. social media’s extensive customer insight), this oil is flowing faster by the day. This means that it’s becoming increasingly critical to find effective ways to manage the rapidly growing “oil flow”.

The fact that intelligent knowledge management is a burning issue is reflected in the sheer number of tenders and bids in this area. Generally, what’s in demand today are solutions which take into consideration the following aspects:

  • Integration of all the various data sources: Whether CRM or ERP, mail servers or social media platforms - the search for relevant information should always be possible for all applications and across all organizational boundaries.

  • Access to the corporation-wide pool of knowledge from all respective applications is required. This means that all relevant customer information should be available from Outlook, CRM or whatever application is used.

  • The solution should be as low-maintenance as possible: The more manual labor is required, the lower the acceptance among employees and the higher the running costs.

  • The system should provide personalized knowledge. That is, even if everyone in the company uses the same data sources, the demands on the knowledge pool vary greatly depending on the department or role of the user in the company.

  • Last but not least, the solution should use and enforce the company’s existing authorization structure, which means that the policies in place can be used without having to reinvent new ones.

Traditional Knowledge Management Solutions Quickly Reach Their Limits

Those larger companies currently looking for a system that converts the ever-increasing amounts of data into concrete competitive advantages have usually had negative experiences with traditional knowledge management solutions. Typical problems include:

  • The classical approach involves gathering information from various sources and then making this information available centrally. This requires a huge manual effort.

  • Employees are encouraged to actively share their knowledge day after day. Yet most lack the time and motivation involved in this. The result: knowledge barriers.

  • In order to be used in a meaningful way, the system must be continuously maintained, which results in a laboriously extensive and nonstop key-wording process.

  • Difficult personalization: As a general rule, the system spits out standardized search results for every user and doesn’t take into account the different roles within the company.

These problems are as old as knowledge management itself, and the weaknesses of knowledge management solutions have been discussed for almost 15 years. With the digital transformation currently unfolding, the disadvantages are becoming more and more apparent.

Enterprise Search is the better Knowledge Management

Over the course of the past 15 years, a technology has matured which uses a completely different approach than that of traditional systems, preventing many of these problems from arising in the first place. That technology, enterprise search, offers the following advantages:

  • Enterprise search is implemented in the company’s information landscape as a sort of meta-level, as it were. What this means is that the data remains in the sources in which it was generated. Thus, the need to consolidate the data is eliminated. In addition, access to the necessary search application is possible from every application.

  • Semantic Search: with each new data set and every query that an employee places, the enterprise search system gets smarter – this is machine learning. This also means that the system will become even better the more and the longer it is in use.

  • Personalized information under existing authorization structures: Enterprise search provides information as needed. That means that the system takes things like established company policies into consideration, so that the service department will receive a different view of the company's knowledge than, for instance, the management.