Minimize business risk by providing information

Why information and knowledge are becoming increasingly important in companies and how they influence business risk

The growth of data has never been faster than it is today. Technologies have never developed faster than now. Added to this are new working models through New Work, which demand new access to and handling of knowledge and data from companies and employees.

When decision-makers in companies make decisions today, they usually have the bottom line in mind at the end of the day. The bottom line is a value that is calculated to judge the success of a company. In recent years, however, more and more economic, social and governance (ESG) issues have been added as an extension to corporate social responsibility (CSR), which cannot be evaluated by hard numbers. In order to evaluate the internal and external influences of these topics on their own company, decision-makers like to use risk matrices. On this, the risks that decision-makers see for their company are classified according to probability and impact.

This article is particularly concerned with reducing risks that arise from a lack of knowledge within the company. Social changes such as demographic change, new work and a digital world with diverse tools are also changing the risks that are assessed on corresponding risk matrices. In this context, the topic of knowledge management and information provision is playing an increasingly important role. Already, simple work is becoming increasingly automated. The human’s job is to monitor and enable the machines to perform the tasks well. To do this, however, he must have the necessary knowledge. Unlike in the past, the knowledge no longer has to be retrievable from the mind. The information is all there, after all, especially in companies. There are learning management systems, intranets, project rooms and much more, where all the knowledge is digitized. So the employee’s job is to find the relevant information and use it to make the best decisions for the company. The task of the company or the decision-makers is to “enable” the employee to make exactly these decisions. In order to make decisions, a basis for decision-making is needed. To have this, research is necessary – often across different data silos. Research is the time-consuming part of this, and tools such as enterprise search not only speed it up, but also significantly accelerate the quality of decisions. Research tasks can be reduced from hours to minutes – the time saved can be used, for example, in the decision-making process.

One solution for democratizing knowledge and making it accessible to everyone is corporate search engines. Enterprise search engines are undergoing a major transformation due to new technologies such as NLP and changes in the tools and working environments used, and are enabling companies to take advantage of new opportunities, especially in dealing with unstructured data. However, the opportunities need to be recognized and seized by management. What use cases there are for enterprise search can be read here.

What are the risks posed by poor information provision?

The first thing to do is to be aware of what value you see in your own data and what value it can have if it is provided appropriately. To do this, you can ask yourself a few simple questions:

  • How much knowledge is there in my data?
  • What conclusions can I draw from it?
  • How accessible is the knowledge for my employees?
  • What would my employees lose if they had to work without this knowledge or only with part of it? How would we perform then?

For the risks, you can then ask yourself the following questions:

  • How high is the risk that my employees make decisions based on poor or even incorrect data?
  • How high is the risk that competing companies will develop products faster because they can use their know-how better?
  • How high is the risk that we cannot provide good customer service because the service employee simply does not know everything about the customer?
  • How high is the risk that the salesperson will miss out on sales because he or she does not have a complete picture of the information available about his or her own customer?

The questions can additionally be extended to other areas. A company search makes the company partially transparent and can significantly minimize the aforementioned risks without having a directly measurable impact on the bottom line.

Already, companies are concerned with providing employees with a good place to work – no longer just in the traditional office, but digitally as well. The value of access to information is changing as digitization progresses, but it is more difficult to measure than tangible assets such as (more) units of production.

The trend that success or corporate values are no longer measured exclusively in terms of tangible assets will continue. In the future, companies will also be measured by how well teams work together, how well systems mesh, and how well existing know-how can be used by employees. Therefore, the answer to the question “Does an in-house search engine minimize my business risk?” should be “Yes, in part”.

Bastian Maiworm ist Mitgründer des Enterprise-Search-Tech-Startups ambeRoad. Er schreibt über die neuesten Entwicklungen im Bereich Start Ups und Themen, die im Enterprise-Search-Kontext relevant sind. Seine Erfahrungen als Gründer nutzt er, um die Digitalisierung und Zusammenarbeit zwischen Startups und der Old Economy weiter voranzutreiben und zu optimieren.

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