8 Things You Need to Do to Capture, Share and Retain Knowledge from Your Digital Landfill
John Mancini

By: John Mancini on May 26th, 2010

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8 Things You Need to Do to Capture, Share and Retain Knowledge from Your Digital Landfill

Intelligent Information Management (IIM)

Most organizations do not realize the actual volume of data living and breathing on their corporate web properties, document management systems and file shares. In a world where it is estimated that around 80% of corporate data exists in unstructured forms; knowing how to turn the contents of that digital landfill into a knowledge asset presents a huge challenge for any business. But by capturing, sharing, and retaining that knowledge, you will definitely build business advantage.

Here are eight things you need to do get the most out of your digital landfill.

  1. Define Knowledge (and how it is to be deployed).

    Content knowledge is the building block for your business to differentiate. Smart companies take content knowledge and turn it into a strategy, product, and/or service that builds a competitive business advantage. Before you can begin to understand and get the most from the information within your system, you must define knowledge. It needs to be up-to-date, relevant, and map onto your prime business objectives.

    It also must be aligned with the mode of operation of your business; in a distributed, technologically advanced enterprise. There is often no need to produce paper-based information, with all the associated challenges of change control, and inherent costs. Similarly, within more traditional, slower-moving environments, the use of electronic media alone may involve a level of culture change that is unnecessary due to the prevalence of paper-based manuals, such as in field-based applications or within engineering workshops.

    The reality is that knowledge should be independent of the channel through which it is delivered. It should be fit for purpose and ideally operate across all communications channels within the business.

  2. Adopt Industry Standard Classification Schemes where Possible.

    Your organization has so much data, but which data maps to valuable knowledge is not necessarily apparent. You’ve already defined knowledge; however, now you need to understand how to extract this value from the data. This requires a process of classification, but one that is flexible. You should identify all business content within your company and then associate those pieces with an industry or corporate standard classification.

  3. Embrace Long-Term Standards.

    Using industry-wide standard object-based classification will provide your business with a flexible organizational solution. That way, if the business changes, you can modify your taxonomy (that is, change the way in which the relationships exist between the objects) rather than having to physically re-classify every object to reflect the changed taxonomic requirements of your organization. This will help to ensure the knowledge assets are of use now and will be in the future as the business changes.

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  4. Apply Consistency to Your Existing Content to Reduce the Noise.

    There is so much static noise within your organizations’ proper information in the form of inconsistent nomenclature, patchy classification, duplicate and near-duplicate content. That noise makes it hard to find anything – normally because you don’t have the tools or techniques to pinpoint a relevant subject area, or because your information is stored in functional silos – in department-specific storage areas, for example. Apply your standard classification to your existing content to reduce the noise within your organization.

  5. Make Sure Your Content isn’t Duplicated.

    Fighting through the noise needs to go one step further; it needs to ensure that there are no duplication issues. A Swiss Bank client once told me that attaching a PowerPoint presentation of 1Mb to an email within that bank increases corporate storage requirements by at least 1 GB and produces, on average, ten versions of the file. In one search, a single document could exist in 100 different places. That single fact alone highlights how difficult it is to sort out the knowledge from the noise. By de-duplicating your content, you’ll already be streamlining the process. Anecdotally this can reduce the file count by between 50% and 80% - significant in anybody’s language.

  6. Find the Holes within Your Knowledge.

    Look for existing entities in your classification that do not exist within your metadata – the information you have about your content. Holes provide you with the ability to clean information, ensure all relevant metadata is being completed by content creators, and if it’s not to get those content creators in line. That way, you’ll be able to ensure content is relevant, findable, and clean.

  7. Share Knowledge.

    There is always a presumption that the way to share content is with a content management or document management system. But this is not always the first thing to address. Content Management Systems work optimally when the content that they are custodians of is focused, relevant, and classified. You need to understand how the content is being used and then drive your choice of platform as required.

    When migrating emails, for example, you have the real opportunity to be selective about where you store content. One customer was migrating 120,000 user email accounts from Lotus Notes to Microsoft Exchange. When discussing the migration, it was identified that 70% of the storage requirement was generated by attachments. Moving all of the attachments to SharePoint instantly enabled ‘share-ability’ and de-duplication. You don’t need to follow the obvious route when sharing knowledge, rather choose a platform based upon what your business requires.

  8. Maintaining Your Knowledge Assets.

    If you don’t look after your house for years, leaving the walls to crack, the ceiling to leak, and mold to grow in the bathroom, it’s not an easy task to repair. But if you manage it on a weekly basis, maintenance is much easier. The same applies to your knowledge. Once you get it to a point of usefulness, where it is relevant and findable, keep it there. If you don’t’ look at it for a year, you’ll then see some major gaps in the metadata, incorrect naming conventions, incorrect storage locations, etc. If you invest in a pragmatic care and maintenance program, then spotting minor deviations from the documented standard will be easy to monitor for, highlight, and resolve.


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About John Mancini

John Mancini is the President of Content Results, LLC and the Past President of AIIM. He is a well-known author, speaker, and advisor on information management, digital transformation and intelligent automation. John is a frequent keynote speaker and author of more than 30 eBooks on a variety of topics. He can be found on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook as jmancini77. Recent keynote topics include: The Stairway to Digital Transformation Navigating Disruptive Waters — 4 Things You Need to Know to Build Your Digital Transformation Strategy Getting Ahead of the Digital Transformation Curve Viewing Information Management Through a New Lens Digital Disruption: 6 Strategies to Avoid Being “Blockbustered” Specialties: Keynote speaker and writer on AI, RPA, intelligent Information Management, Intelligent Automation and Digital Transformation. Consensus-building with Boards to create strategic focus, action, and accountability. Extensive public speaking and public relations work Conversant and experienced in major technology issues and trends. Expert on inbound and content marketing, particularly in an association environment and on the Hubspot platform. John is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the College of William and Mary, and holds an M.A. in Public Policy from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University.