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Expanding Knowledge Management Externally: Putting Your Knowledge to Work for Customers

  • ID: 42709
  • Report
  • December 1998
  • 111 pages
  • American Productivity & Quality Center, APQC
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Customers are ready to be involved in—and even take control of—satisfying their own needs, including answering their own questions and solving their own problems. This is evidenced by the acceptance of ATMs, self-serve gas stations, and online banking services. With the emergence of the Internet, the average person is much more computer literate than just a few years ago—and much more willing to find answers online. The Expanding Knowledge Management Externally consortium benchmarking study began in February 1998 with an organizing meeting. During the meeting, the study team and the sponsor companies agreed upon the study scope. The team identified the following study scope areas at this meeting.

Creating Strategies for Sharing Knowledge
- Leveraging company knowledge in self-service customer strategies
- Integrating the customer in knowledge management
- Understanding the value and benefit of sharing company knowledge with customers

Designing the Knowledge Management Framework
- Understanding what the customer “looks like”
- Designing and formulating knowledge for use by naïve, nontechnical, or casual users
- Identifying the issues and differences in creating knowledge for internal versus

External use
- Addressing security, confidentiality, and legality issues Selecting Technology Enablers
- Identifying deployment options for putting knowledge in the hands of the customer
- Evaluating the effectiveness of using the Web for self-service, sales, and customer service
- Understanding the factors involved in determining Internet versus intranet versus extranet delivery

Measuring Results
- Setting expectations for results from knowledge shared with customers


Following are the key findings of this study, divided into four topical sections. The findings will be explored in detail throughout the remainder of the report.

Section 1: Customer-Focused Knowledge Strategy
Section 2: Knowledge Content
Section 3: Measurement
Section 4: Technology


Benchmarking is the process of identifying, understanding, and adapting outstanding practices from organizations anywhere in the world to help another organization improve performance. Companies participating in benchmarking activities report breakthrough improvements by directly and indirectly improving cost control, quality, cycle time, and profits. The American Productivity & Quality Center conducted this benchmarking study on how innovative companies successfully share knowledge with customers. Sherry Walden of Inference Corporation provided subject matter expertise for this study. Sponsors directed the scope, selected best-practice companies to site visit, and financially supported the study.

Phase 1: Planning
Phase 2: Collecting
Phase 3: Analyzing and Reporting
Phase 4: Adapting

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- Sponsor and Partner Companies

A listing of the sponsor companies in this study, as well as the best-practice (“partner”) companies that were benchmarked for their innovation and advancement in using knowledge management externally.

- Executive Summary

A bird’s-eye view of the study, presenting the key findings discovered and the methodology used throughout the course of the study. The findings are explored in detail in following sections.

- Key Findings

An in-depth look at the 16 key findings of this study. The findings are supported by quantitative data and qualitative examples of practices employed by the partner companies.

- Partner Company Profiles

Background information on the partner companies, as well as their innovative external knowledge management processes.

- Appendix

Background data on the consortium participants and the customers they serve through external knowledge management.

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Note: Product cover images may vary from those shown