Consider this common scenario: a business is humming along, supported by highly competent employees who are expert and specialized in their roles, when suddenly someone leaves the company and takes their store of knowledge with them. File management systems, workflow processes, the contextual knowledge that gives data its meaning, and more have just walked out the door. The staff can roll up their sleeves and recover or reinvent the information they need to keep moving forward, but it may be a slow, expensive, and redundant process.
Businesses have long struggled with creating a culture and practice of knowledge sharing. In some ways, technology hasn't helped this situation, as each employee now has their own specialized apps, tools, and accounts. The effect is like a modern version of a paper-driven office filled with locked cabinets — and the keys just left in someone's pocket.
This kind of information loss and redundancy affects companies even without the sudden departure of a specialized employee. According to a 2012 study by the McKinsey Global Institute, 19% of the average workweek is spent "looking for internal information or tracking down colleagues who can help with specific tasks." Integrated business applications with embedded communication tools can help address some of the big barriers to knowledge sharing and productivity: knowledge hoarding, data hoarding, challenges to cross-functionality, and software licensing costs.
Marketing expert Alison Cooley calls knowledge hoarders "people who gather and guard information for personal preservation and future use." But knowledge hoarding doesn't have to be deliberate or malicious. If an analyst's data exists in a format that makes sense primarily to them, and their contextual understanding of their data lives inside their head, then they are sitting on a stash of company knowledge only because the processes or technologies for effectively sharing that knowledge are not yet in place.
Data hoarding happens at a company-wide level when information is insufficiently curated, making it harder to navigate effectively over time. According to Veritas' 2016 Data Genomics Index, 40-60% of an average organization's data is "redundant, obsolete, or trivial" (ROT) and 40% is "stale," meaning it hasn't been touched in three or more years. Imagine the difference between multiple employees dutifully recording and saving information about their own segment of a process — a sales manager about a lead, a customer engagement rep about the converted customer, a tech support specialist about a product issue — and a shared platform on which an entire team is updating and interacting with relevant data, curating as they go.
Challenges to cross-functionality
The McKinsey report also found that better communication and collaboration tools can increase productivity by as much as 25-35%. More and more companies are embracing cross-functional project teams with members from different departments or even different offices, making open lines of communication essential. Communication tools that are tailored to or even embedded in a product suite can help teams run smoothly without creating redundant or disconnected processes.
The cost of individual user licenses has been a barrier to the shared-access technological solution to knowledge management problems. Especially with the rise of subscription-based SaaS tools, it doesn't make financial sense to individually license every app for every employee. An integrated software suite can help knock down silos within a company by making shared access more cost-effective. Zoho One, for example, offers every licensed user in a company access to the whole suite of tools for a ₹1,000 per-head flat fee.
An all-in-one fee structure offers more than just savings on software licensing. This model creates an infrastructure for access to software and content that may pay off in unexpected ways as well as increasing access to shared information. It can encourage flexibility and movement of talent within the company as employees can interact with the tools they need. It can help with data freshness and allow the easy formation of communication lines with embedded, platform-specific tools. And it can prevent knowledge-hoarding, even the accidental kind, just in case someone leaves with a pocketful of keys.
Brief about ZOHO
Zoho is the operating system for business—a single online platform capable of running an entire business. With apps in nearly every major business category, including sales, marketing, customer support, accounting and back office operations, and an array of productivity and collaboration tools, Zoho is the world's most prolific software company. More than 35 million users around the world, across hundreds of thousands of companies, rely on Zoho every day to run their businesses, including Zoho itself.