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Knowledge Management: Bridging a $300bn Productivity Gap

12 June 2024

By Adam Aziz, Analyst at DAI Magister

In just the past two years, a staggering 90% of the world’s data has burst into existence, with projections indicating that global data volumes will double every 24 months from here on out. But it’s not just the sheer quantity that’s accelerating — there is a fundamental shift in the very nature of data itself. Unstructured data, encompassing everything from text passages to images and audio files, is poised to dominate, constituting over 80% of new data annually by 2025.

As organisations grapple with this data deluge, knowledge management systems emerge as vital lifelines. These comprehensive platforms enable seamless dissemination of information and insights within data-rich enterprises. While traditional storage solutions like SharePoint and Google Drive offer repositories, they often fall short in harnessing the full potential of data. Their lack of built-in analytics and sophisticated natural language processing (NLP) search tools leads to siloed information and significant productivity losses. Inefficient knowledge sharing exacts a hefty toll, costing large AI and SaaS companies over $315 billion each year.

What is knowledge management?

The primary objective of a knowledge management system lies in minimising the time spent searching for information already existing within the organisation. Initially, this challenge was tackled through dedicated enterprise search tools, primarily relying on keyword and metadata-based searches within structured databases to enhance their native search capabilities. While enterprise search remains a vital component of knowledge management, modern tools have evolved significantly, leveraging advanced technologies such as Natural Language Processing (NLP) to analyse both structured and unstructured data from multiple sources.

Knowledge management goes beyond mere information retrieval. It delves into comprehensive analysis, aiming to uncover insights scattered across various organisational sources. This involves a holistic examination of all pertinent information to unveil previously obscured insights. Technological advancements have further revolutionised the user experience, with queries now often posed in natural language. Chatbot-style interfaces respond in conversational terms, facilitating not only quicker access to answers but also the ability to delve deeper with related inquiries. This enhanced user experience plays a pivotal role in fostering adoption of dedicated knowledge management systems.

Differentiation Strategies of Knowledge Management Players

Technology is a crucial differentiator. Advanced security features such as those offered by Elium are critical, providing security to users who are accessing large volumes of highly sensitive data. Incorporation of LLMs is no longer an optional feature and companies such as Lucidworks and Pryon who are able to offer LLM agnosticism can ease the integration into existing businesses that may be locked into a specific provider.

Integrations are also a key element. Albus, for example, acts as a “Chat GPT for work apps”, integrating directly into Slack, Figma, Monday, and over 100 other business applications and serves employees through a chat interface to answer queries without having to directly access data sources. The ease of use and breadth of integrations for solutions that are deeply embedded into other business processes is crucial for encouraging uptake and building a large customer base.

Understanding the value proposition of Knowledge Management systems

Several successful players in the knowledge management space pursue vertical or use-case-specific approaches to unlock efficiencies in data-intensive industries & processes. Providing clear, distinct use cases in this way enables prospective customers to easily understand the exact value they can derive from the use of the platform and encourages adoption.

Sinequa, for example, serves users across multiple verticals including law, life sciences, and manufacturing. Its life sciences & healthcare solutions are targeted at specific pain points in the value chain, including drug discovery and clinical trials. The clinical trials tool, for example, has helped companies with billions of discrete datapoints spread across multiple data sources realise significant cost savings by reducing the time spent searching for information and insights across millions of files.

Other companies such as Stravito are focused on extracting value from research and company documents that are built around the research function. Through its AI assistant and platform, users can search for information on key items such as brand loyalty, combining insights from commissioned research and company documents across the organisation. By integrating into other workflow tools, repositories, and research platforms, such as Euromonitor and Mintel, users can maximise the value of their research spend and reduce time spent looking for key information.

Many companies in the knowledge management space, such as BloomfireLucidworks, and Guru, adopt a vertical and use-case-specific approach. While they offer industry-specific solutions, they also provide functionality targeting distinct functions and roles within the enterprise.

For instance, Bloomfire tailors its solutions to cater to the specific needs of executives, managers, and other employees. Lucidworks, on the other hand, focuses on improving customer service and product discovery. Similarly, Guru offers solutions designed for various departments, including HR, sales, marketing, and operations, among others.

This segmentation strategy allows these companies to address the unique challenges and requirements of different end markets and user groups, providing more targeted and effective knowledge management solutions.

In addition to providing an internal tool for customer service teams, Stonly allows the customers of an enterprise to access a highly effective self-service tool built around the knowledge management platform through a chatbot that resulted in a 50% decrease in support tickets and 20% reduction in resolution time for customers looking to access customer support. This significantly enhances the efficiency of the customer service team who are brought into the loop once human intervention is required.

Standing out in a sea of solutions

The ubiquity of tools such as SharePoint and other repositories with their own native search functionality means the primarily hurdle clear is demonstrating why a dedicated knowledge management tool is a necessity, rather than a nice-to-have. As competition intensifies, standing out becomes imperative, especially in a competitive fundraising environment.

Faced with a solution to a $300bn problem and only a handful of players that have raised over $50m to date, investors are poised to flock to the knowledge management space. Companies demonstrating market leadership and technological acumen are poised for substantial fundraising rounds. The stage is also set for transformative growth and strategic consolidation, underpinned by the relentless pursuit of innovation and efficiency. As the knowledge management landscape evolves, the true winners will be those who can adeptly navigate the currents of change, harnessing the full potential of data to drive organisational success.

Adam Aziz