Why Knowledge Management is Essential to Professional Services

Years ago, I had the privilege of leading one of the largest digital agencies in the US. With a team of 500 people spread across nine offices in North America and the UK, we were fortunate enough to work with some of the biggest brands in the industry. One of my business partners had an epiphany, we should create a "global brain" that would be accessible to everyone in our agency, from strategy and account services to delivery and business development. Our goals were simple: to have all the knowledge we needed at our fingertips, to eliminate unnecessary duplication of efforts, improve our response times to clients, and ultimately provide services that set us apart from our competition.

Unfortunately, back then, the technology simply wasn't advanced enough to achieve what we envisioned. We painstakingly planned and developed strategies, meticulously tagged documents, and created intricate storage and naming schemes. However, despite our best efforts, we found that we could only scratch the surface when it came to accessing the depth of the data we needed to achieve our goals.

Fast forward over a decade and the technology has evolved significantly, making that original vision achievable. This inspiration was one of the driving forces behind the creation of Lucy, our AI-powered Answer Engine®.  

In the initial phase, our primary focus with Lucy was on empowering Research & Insights for Fortune 500 companies. Over time, our trajectory has expanded over the past year or two across various use cases, especially within the Professional Services market. In this sector the need for effective Knowledge Management has become essential. Just the other day, I had a meeting with the CEO of a 500-person professional services company, who stressed the importance of this technology. They explained that the pressure to deliver more in less time is immense, and having the right tools to support their teams is crucial. In fact, the CEO warned that if they don't adapt, their competitors will leave them behind. In short, he made it clear that effective Knowledge Management is essential for their success.

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So, what are the specific business cases that make Knowledge Management so vital for Professional Services?

  • Strategy & Consulting: It is crucial for strategists and consultants to have access to the full knowledge base of their firm. Whether it's joining customer meetings, working on in-depth deliverables, or briefing team members, these professionals need to tap into a vast pool of expert knowledge. However, no individual can possibly know all the content available from past work, the work done by others, or third-party research. With an AI-powered Knowledge Management system, these individuals can quickly and effortlessly find the precise information they need in a matter of seconds. They can access source attributions, specific pages containing the relevant knowledge, and even links to the relevant documents and data.

  • Account Services: Quick and accurate responses to customer queries are essential. Account Services professionals are often on the front lines, and their ability to promptly provide answers can make or break client relationships. However, without the right tools, this process can be time-consuming and frustrating. Account Services professionals may have to navigate through internal workflows and processes, reaching out to subject matter experts or searching for answers within various business practices. This can lead to delayed responses, leaving customers dissatisfied. With the current generation of Knowledge Management systems, the workflow can be streamlined and managed entirely by Account Services professionals. They can find the answers their customers need and deliver them back in minutes or hours, rather than days.

  • Business Development: Teams spend significant time on Request for Proposal (RFP) development. Shockingly, around 80 percent of the response content is repetitive or similar to what has been provided in previous RFPs. Yet, without the right tools, companies end up wasting days or even weeks recreating content that already exists in their files. Ideally, this initial 80% can be quickly retrieved through Knowledge Management systems, allowing teams to focus on differentiating themselves and creating tailored content that sets them apart from competitors.

While each firm may have unique use cases, the importance of effective Knowledge Management in Professional Services cannot be overstated. Looking back on my experience running large-scale professional services companies, I can't help but wish we had access to these tools. With the power of Knowledge Management, we would have been able to streamline our processes, access the information we needed instantly, and consistently deliver exceptional results to our clients.

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