The Importance of Content Marketing

The following is a guest post by Jared M. Wells from TSL Marketing:

“The fourth Quarter is an interesting time for B2B Sales and Marketing professionals, you’re focused on closing the year with strong numbers.  Being in sales, I’m guilty of thinking low hanging fruit is the most appetizing, at times.  However, I have to ask myself if I’m cutting myself short.

Image by TSL MarketingSales and Marketing teams work diligently throughout the year filling sales pipeline and often times lead generation efforts go to waste when the sales team is focused primarily on short sales. Buying intent is often underestimated with longer-term opportunities and leads are overlooked.

This is why it is important to enable your sales team with tele-prospecting support and lead nurturing tactics. This helps assure that you will get you more mileage out of your pipeline and leads will not slip through the cracks.

The Importance of Content Marketing

B2B marketers have gotten more sophisticated with technology and taken steps towards better alignment with sales in recent years; because of this many coin 2010 as “The Year of Content Marketing” Sirius Decisions released some excellent research in this area. Content generated will have the most impact if it’s targeted to the prospect’s position along the Buyer’s Journey:

by TSL Marketing

“Content is Key” but be warned – it’s not just about content…  A recent study by IDG Market Fusion determined that in only 42% of cases, prospects received relevant content; that means 58% of the time the WRONG content is being shared. Marketing Sherpa also discovered that irrelevant or off-target information reduces your chance to win the business by as much as 45%. Keep it relevant!

Leveraging your Inside Sales Team for Lead Progression

Longer-term deals require time and attention in order to realize their full potential.  Automated Lead Nurturing is great, however nothing beats an actual conversation!  Leveraging inside sales for lead qualification will help ensure proper lead nurturing, and most importantly, pipeline acceleration are taking place.

Inside Sales is best suited to enable the Sales Team by qualifying and helping to ensure proper content is being provided. This will enable the field sales team to do what they do best, focus on closing deals.  If history has shown us anything: That’s what they’ll do, regardless.

To learn more on the importance of lead progression, TSL Marketing recently released a free whitepaper, “The Payoffs of Lead Progression”. In this whitepaper you will learn how you can increase lead conversion rates by upwards of 44%.”

Constant loop of quantitative and qualitative feedback in a Sales Enablement portal

My blog post ‘How the metrics of a Sales Enablement application help you to save sales people even more time’:

Today, I had a look at the usage metrics and statistics report gathered at a large enterprise that recently launched the BizSphere Sales Enablement application to replace more than 35 intranet portals. What I love about the report is that it not only tracks which content sales people view, download, rate (with up to 5 stars) or comment on (We actually also display all of the above in the front-end to show sales people where the good stuff is.), but it also tracks what they were not able to find. An anonymous list of all search queries that were punched in comes with the number of actual results that were displayed. That way the owners of the Sales Enablement application at our customers can take a look at all search queries that led to zero results and specifically address what must be a huge frustration for sales people who are trying to prepare a customer meeting.

Constant loop of quantitative and qualitative feedback lets you improve the experience

Knowing which way people search, what they are looking for, and to analyze whether the content does actually exist or still needs to be created is very insightful. Not only does it direct the content planning process (to invest marketing dollars only for content that will actually be used), but it also helps to focus on the important topics when optimizing your texts and their tags for indexing by the search. What I mean by this is that a search term that led to zero results can be added – visible or invisible – to the content that would had been the perfect match. An example from one of our early customers – Nortel – would be frequent searches for CS1k with the expectation to find content for the product CS1000. It is just fair enough that people search the way they speak and analyzing the metrics and statistics helps you to improve their search experience.

Enterprise 2.0 style collaboration

Besides the quantitative things to look at, you also have the qualitative feedback in form of comments under each piece of content. When people start to…

  • comment on a white paper why it did not resonate with customers in a specific industry vertical,
  • add competitive insight from the field on an internal presentation,
  • applaud or criticize the authors
  • and help each other with lots of comments etc…

…then each piece of content has its own blog.

A word, that is not an official term but keeps on showing up in these comments or in the log files mentioned above, can be added as an alias of a product/service/solution, region/country or resource/document type.

The real Enterprise 2.0 style collaboration starts to happen when your Sales Enablement application allows your employees or even your channel partners to share their own documents or links which they found helpful. When everything can be accessed from one place and is marked as ‘peer contribution’ or as ‘content approved by marketing’, then there might be a chance to ensure that everyone is always using the latest version and does not waste time emailing people for it.

The report – this ‘one place’ should show in real-time – tells you who contributed the content that gets a lot of love and the collaboration around it might reveal insights of the kind only employees touching the customer accounts gather and the marketing department usually finds out about late.

Enterprise 2.0 from a Sales Enablement point of view

Every now and then there is a discussion on the definition of Sales Enablement

Every now and then there is a discussion on the definition of Sales Enablement. I tried to capture some at about and here.

Craig Rosenberg (@funnelholic), author of the b2b sales and marketing blog funnelholic.com, started the discussion “How do you define Sales Enablement?”, on May 25, 2010:

A user called “ED” responded with the following interesting point amongst other points:

“[…] I don’t define it as sales enablement; rather I use “Sales Optimization”. I say as I had one rather perturbed head of global sales once say “My sales people don’t need enablement from marketing”. So I’m always careful as to how I position the effort. […]”

Ardath Albee from marketinginteractions.typepad.com wrote the following response:

“1. Sales enablement is the process for helping salespeople to have conversations with buyers that the buyers’ perceive as valuable because the interactions is focused on helping them to achieve a high-priority business objective.
2. Sales enablement puts the conversational tools, storyline and end-stage content at a salesperson’s fingertips to help them engage buyers by focusing on what their products enable buyers to achieve, rather than the feeds and speeds of the products themselves. I agree with ED’s idea above that every marketing program should have a sales chapter.
3. Sales enablement is jointly owned by marketing and sales. Unless both sides collaborate on what’s needed (content, conversational guides, personas, etc.), integrate it with top of the funnel programs and construct a seamless end-to-end process across the cycle, no one is enabled.
In fact, this process should actually be called “buyer enablement.” The focus needs to be on helping buyers buy, not selling them products/solutions. That’s what drives relevance. The kicker is that both marketing and sales have insights that must be merged to create the best overall process. Marketing and sales are not two separate functions – not for buyers.”

A user called “perramond” said the following amongst other things:

“[…] Customer 2.0 doesn’t need your data sheets, positioning docs, competitive matrix, etc. They can find all that stuff (as well as your competitors’) without your help. So when your sales people do engage, they had better come to the table with something relevant and timely, something that helps the customer move to the next step in diagnosing and addressing an important business problem (wherever they might be in their buying process, vs. where they fall in your sales process.) […]”

Tamara Schenk (@tamaraschenk) (Portfolio & Offering Management – Innovation Center; T-Systems International GmbH) wrote the following:

“Our sales enablement initiative is based on the broad Forrester definition. Important criteria from my viewpoint are: it is a cross-functional discipline, it is a strategic ongoing process and it has very ambitious objectives: to equip all people touching the accounts with the right information in a well-structured, reusable way at all stages of the customers problem solving process / the customers buying cycle. Most important in an approach like this:

Sales enablement will deliver measurable business outcome!
Who owns sales enablement: I’m always wondering when this question appears. Wouldn’t we overcome “functional silo thinking” with an integrated sales enablement approach? As I see sales enablement as a joined approach, there can be no dedicated owner. There will be major stakeholders and other stakeholders, and normally one business unit sitting in the driver seat. And that’s not necessarily sales or marketing – portfolio & offering management can also be in a leading role.”

Let me extend what Tamara Schenk said:

It’s a cross-functional discipline, it’s a strategic ongoing process and it has very ambitious objectives: to equip all people touching the accounts (more than just pre-sales and sales) with the right information (sales playbooks, campaign information, ROI calculators and alike, documents/links, contact details of subject matter experts, etc.) in a well-structured (what is applicable where, who authored what, what can be used for how long?), reusable way (output in different formats or even auto-generation of tailored content) across all silos in the enterprise and in the right language(!) at all stages of the customers problem solving process / the customers buying cycle.
Having been on the enterprise side and having seen how many marketing dollars go into content production and towards polishing the look&feel I want to highlight how important it is that the money is only spent on content that works (content planning, content intelligence like tracking usage and ratings/comments) and if possible can even be done in-house.

What helps sales reps to achieve their targets? Case studies, case studies, case studies, questions and answers, customer testimonals

On March 1, 2010, Lilia Shirman (@B2BGuru) wrote the post To reach the moon, match enthusiasm with (sales) resources. These 5 really help! on her blog revenueorchard.com:

“[…] Setting big goals at a sales kickoff and barraging reps with information about the newest products just isn’t enough. The top reps will deliver the numbers in any case. The rest will struggle without extensive resources and support.

Sales reps report that the following are especially effective in helping them achieve their targets:

  1. Case studies, case studies, case studies. Repeatedly and consistently rated as the most useful sales tool. […]
  2. In-account deal support from subject-matter, industry, or technology specialists. This is especially critical in larger companies, where account managers must be relationship experts, but cannot possibly know the details of every product, business process, or industry (unless they are vertically-aligned). The very fact of bringing in an expert who is perceived as more senior by the customer is often enough to move a deal forward.
  3. Business-level messaging and sales tools targeted at the high-level decision makers and budget holders. These should complement detailed product-focused content, which is necessary but insufficient bu itself.  Business messaging targets the audience evaluating the investment rather than the people evaluating your product.
  4. Training & tools that enable sales reps to ask great questions and have intelligent conversations with customers at multiple organizational levels and functional roles. Asking great questions accomplishes three critical things: Positions the sales person as an ally and advisor, demonstrates that they can listen, and provides valuable information about the customers that can guide the rep in structuring the deal.
  5. Quantitative results achieved for other customers. While compliments (customer testimonials that discuss how easy you are to work with) are good, hard numbers about specific improvements they achieved are always more powerful. Numbers in the elevator pitch get attention and meetings, and numbers in the business case  help close the deal.

[…]”

The two links above have been added by the author of this blog. In relation to point #4 above: In a Sales Enablement solution with rating, commenting, uploading of user generated content and similar web 2.0 (enterprise 2.0) features all employees not only sales reps can ask and answer questions. At the same time, marketing can benefit from the feedback from the field. This created a closed-loop knowledge management in the enterprise where new industry trends or customer needs which sales people hear about get shared and addressed. Through content audits (content intelligence) areas for which no marketing assets have been developed yet get a red flag and so do areas where content is outdated.

sharing around content experiences with peers in BizSphere

We don’t just need more information – we need more information organized in a way that helps to get the job done faster

web 3.0 with BizSphere

The following is a collection of posts from around the blogosphere that make the case that we need to improve on how we organize the firehose of information every B2B enterprise aims at its sales reps (especially in times of web 2.0 / sales 2.0 / enterprise 2.0). BizSphere thinks that semantic search (web 3.0) and providing context in which you can filter down to what is relevant to you, are the approach to take to overcome information overload.

‘Winning in the New World of B2B Sales’ by Sham Sao, CMO InfoGroup’s OneSource:

“Before you can win over your prospects with your charming personality and deep knowledge of how to address their business needs, you need to first open the door by getting in contact with them and holding their attention long enough to get them hooked – or at least hooked enough to continue the conversation. Sure it’s true that effective sales professionals need to be persistent, knowledgeable and confident, self-motivated and good listeners. But these qualities alone are not enough.

They also need accurate information that helps them get to the right person and gives them something valuable to say right out of the gate.

In a recent B2B SalesPulse survey conducted by Infogroup’s OneSource, sales professionals responded that they are relying on business information significantly more today compared to a year ago. It confirms that business information is becoming more and more critical for B2B sales. Using accurate, timely business information is especially important for sales professionals today who are under pressure to raise their quotas while sales staffing and resources remain tightly constrained, or are even being cut.

While sales teams need to access every relevant piece of information they can get from every source they can tap, they don’t just need more information – they need more information organized in a way that helps them get their job done faster. When sales teams spend inordinate amounts of time browsing the web and searching for those tidbits to help them get into the right company or to make a compelling pitch, they spend less time selling. The key is making this information actionable so sales reps can spend more time selling and less time researching.

This includes information from Social Media sources. Respondents to OneSource’s B2B SalesPulse survey rated LinkedIn as the most useful social networking tool, followed by blogs, Facebook and Twitter in that order (and closely grouped together). LinkedIn also showed the most growth with 48 percent of respondents saying they are using it more now versus a year ago. Surprisingly enough, even though LinkedIn showed the most growth, nearly a third of respondents are still not using it. […]”

 

Sort of along these lines is the post ‘#6: Focus on Internal Sales Enablement and Cutting to the Chase’, from March 25, 2010:

“Keep the emphasis on quality of collateral and programs, not volume. By providing Sales with top-notch materials and in-depth brand knowledge, they’ll be better positioned to do their job successfully and bring in new business.

Some companies, as the Senior Director of Services Strategy at one large technology corporation points out, have implemented a whole playbook program – internal prospecting, packaging content together, streamlining messages – to deliver content succinctly.

Better organization of what is already out there makes it more usable and digestible in the field,” allowing Sales to get to the point quicker and, in turn, touch more prospects and generate more sales. […]”

I have not double checked the following numbers I found in the post ‘Sales people who research cost you big time!’:

“[…] So, what is the actual hourly value for a B2B salesperson? We’ve developed an excel calculator to help do the math. Let’s use a typical experienced B2B enterprise salesperson at a software company and apply these sample figures:

  • Annual compensation (at plan, or meeting quota): $200,000
  • Benefits Paid (20% of a 70K salary): $14,000
  • Annual Quota: $2 million
  • Include 2 weeks vacation and holidays

This salesperson’s true “hourly value” is $1,198!

For companies with higher quotas (I’ve seen annual quota’s as high as $14 million), this figure is even higher!

If you’d like to figure out your own salespeople’s hourly value, send me an email at silvia@industrygems.com and I will email you the calculator.

The next time you see your salespeople doing research, take interest. Using salespeople for anything other than selling, negatively affects your bottom-line. Find ways to remove those activities from their daily to-do list. It could be costing you over $1,000 an hour! Your sales people must focus on the thing they do best… selling!”

You can’t manage what you don’t measure

Craig Klein (@craigklein) wrote ‘8 Metrics You Must Know about Marketing, Leads and Sales’, on March 9, 2010:

“[…]

#1 Metric You Must Know about Marketing and Sales
Total number of leads coming in.

Simple right? Well, it is but, it means you need to know about all of them. All the referrals your sales people get that they never mention to you. All the call-ins that come in but, never get called back by a sales rep, etc.

#2 Metric You Must Know about Marketing and Sales
Where does each lead comes from?

How did they hear about you? What ad did they respond to? Where did you meet them? Who referred them to you?

Again, simple stuff but, the key is to be sure you get this information for each and every lead you talk to. If you get 100 leads a month and fail to collect this information for 5 of them, it could really throw off any analysis you do.

#3 Metric You Must Know about Marketing and Sales
How qualified is each lead?

This one is tougher. The reason is that you have to decide on objective criteria that makes a lead qualified. Do they have a need for what you sell? Do they have the money for it? The answers don’t necessarily need to mean that are absolutely going to buy from you. Just that there is a basic fit between their needs and situation and your company. They’re worth your time. Choose the 4 or 5 questions you have to ask every new lead and start capturing the answers for each and every lead. I know, you won’t be able to get all that information for all of them. That’s OK. If you don’t get it all, they’re not qualified.

#4 Metric You Must Know about Marketing and Sales
What’s the value of the sales opportunity?

Best case scenario, what can you sell them in the near term? What is this opportunity worth to your company? Pretty simple.

#5 Metric You Must Know about Marketing and Sales
What market segment do they fit in?

In every business, you have a few segments you have developed unique solutions for. It might be business vs. residential or small vs. large. You’ve got to know where they all fit.

#6 Metric You Must Know about Marketing and Sales
Product you propose to them.

This could be a direct one to one relationship with the segment they fit in but, it’s usually not that simple. Some customers will request certain solutions even though it’s not what you’d recommend for them given the segment they’re in, etc. Again, you’ve got to track this for each lead.

#7 Metric You Must Know about Marketing and Sales
Won or Lost

Did they buy or not? Simple right? What about if they just say “call me later”? (that’s a No if they don’t buy within a reasonable amount of time BTW)

#8 Metric You Must Know about Marketing and Sales
Did they give you a referral?

Why do you need to know this? Well, you need to know if they were asked for one thing. Also, this is a great measure of the satisfaction of that client. Let’s face it… You can value customers by how much they spend but, a customer that gives you referrals is much more valuable than one that spends the same and doesn’t give you any referrals.

[…]”

 

Product marketing teams need to know how their product is fairing and what sales material is driving sales conversations forward

feedback from sales

On January 8, 2010, Ken Knickerbocker wrote ‘Can sales give as good as it gets?’:

“When Joe Galvin of Sirius Decisions wrote “sales enablement is about knowledge transfer” last month, he spoke about how Salespeople need to access and acquire constantly changing information from a variety of internal sources to maintain their state of knowledge readiness and be able transfer that knowledge to their customers.

Joe is right of course, but he only has half of the picture. He should have also included the two-way exchange of knowledge that must exist if a sales and marketing organization is to flourish.

Not only must knowledge in the form of content, insight and data flow to the sales person, but insight, understanding and even raw data must flow back to other sales ecosystem stakeholders supporting the sales as well.

For instance, lead gen groups need up-to-the-minute and accurate knowledge of lead status and campaign effectiveness passed to them to make adjustments in the current campaigns or plan their next initiative or event.

Product marketing teams need to know how their product is fairing and what sales material is driving sales conversations forward.

Finance and legal teams need knowledge of the terms and conditions agreed to and the customers performance against those targets the prior year as they consider pricing on new projects and opportunities with the same client.

The sales operations group needs a damn near perfect knowledge of where each opportunity sits in the pipeline, how likely, for how much and when the deal is to close to generate a forecast executives can take to the street.

Professional services leaders need to see what service level agreements are being extended to ensure the appropriate resources are trained and available when the value promised must be delivered.

C-level executives need knowledge about the strength of the pipeline and current status of strategic opportunities and clients to determine where their time is best applied to drive forecasted results.

Enabling sales people is a first step, but in a world where everyone sells, sales enablement must take on more of a two-way, enterprise wide exchange of information and knowledge.”

I agree with the post above, but I’m wondering which feedback from Sales to Marketing is a task of Sales Enablement applications and which is a task of CRM systems? I can only speak to Sales Enablement applications:

Having a dashboard overview of both your inventory of sales material and its usage lets you track whether a certain sales region or certain products/services/solutions have no material available or whether it is not being looked at.

You will see which type of material your sales people love (Ratings might not tell you a lot but usage data will). This ability is crucial in becoming better and better in focusing your marketing efforts on what will actually help sales to close deals. “IDC research shows that over 40% of all marketing assets handed over to sales are not in use today.” (IDC’s Best Practices in Sales Enablement – Content and Marketing, July 2009)

Why pay someone to create reports every week when you and everybody else, who is interested, could have the kind of dashboard BizSphere calls ‘Content Landscape’ as well as even more detailed usage metrics of the Sales Enablement application; all of it in real-time and sliced and diced as you wish. For presentations to executives, just create a deep link to how you sliced and diced the data and they will get to see the current – as opposed to last week’s – data.

BizSphere is the Sales Enablement application Jeanne Hellman looks at in her case study of “implementing Sales Enablement in a complex, global company”.

Content Landscape

What new hire salespeople want to know

In the blog post ‘Sales Enablement’ from September 22, 2009 the salestrainingdrivers.com author looks at what new hire sales people want to know:

“How do you enable the sales team?

Millions of Internet pages are dedicated to the subject of sales coaching and sales training. Have you conducted an Internet search for it lately?

With all that content available, it’s amazing that sales teams have any trouble hitting their performance goals. Have you ever thought about it from a salesperson’s shoes? Think about it: there are many different resources available for salespeople on how to close, how to manage time, how to ask questions, how to manage a territory, and how to stay motivated.

Yet, despite all this, the next evolution in selling is upon us, and it requires all salespeople to conduct a thorough review […]. If salespeople aren’t actively embracing this evolution, they will be passed by.

[…]

New hire salespeople want to know:

  • what are my expectations?
  • what are the goals?
  • what does success look like?
  • what is in it for me?
  • what do I need to do?

[…]”

I would add:

The author goes on to speak about…

“[…] each salesperson’s ability to fully customize their own selling system to the needs of the clients and their territory. Seasoned sales pros of today have a deep command of the basics, and they’ve come up with something that is uniquely their own over time. […]”

The first part reminds me of the extend to which this kind of knowledge is geography specific as well as specific for industry verticals and client needs. In a global enterprise Sales Enablement knowledge needs to be organized by all this concurrently. Does your organization have an information architecture that allows that?

The second part shows the reality of people having their own unique ways of doing things. Hence, gathering tribal knowledge / best practices from peers can only go so far… as Gerhard Gschwandtner points out in his blog post ‘Is Sales Enablement just Lipstick on a Knowledge Management Pig?’:

“I read, “Clone top performers.” Excuse me! Why not promise, “Clone your Swiss bank account”?”

Way too much stuff and far too little information about that stuff – Context matters

On November 29, 2009, Seth Godin wrote about what we in Sales Enablement for b2b enterprises are focused on:
Context matters!

Getting meta

Wikipedia contains facts about facts. It’s a collection of facts from other places.

Facebook doesn’t have your friends. It has facts about your friends.

Google is at its best when it gives you links to links, not the information itself.

Over and over, the Internet is allowing new levels of abstraction. Information about information might be worth more than the information itself. Which posts should I read? Which elements of the project are at risk? Who is making the biggest difference to the organization?

Right now, there’s way too much stuff and far too little information about that stuff. Sounds like an opportunity.

I couldn’t agree more with Seth that this is an opportunity. Successfully using this opportunity will have to do with web 3.0 (semantic) approaches being applied to the stuff from web 1.0 and web 2.0 as well as understanding what information architecture is and how it can be set up for complex organizations.

For the approach to Sales Enablement I have been working with at a company with 4,000+ sales people you could say:
SharePoint (or similar) has your marketing assets for sales reps.

Sales Enablement – as the layer on top – has the facts about your marketing assets:

  • Which assets/links/comments should a sales rep read for a specific sales situation?
  • Who is the contributor of marketing assets or comments that really drive sales?

The need to improve the quality and output of knowledge workers

McKinsey Publishing’s ‘What Matters’ posted ‘Using technology to improve workforce collaboration’ by James Manyika, Kara Sprague and Lareina Yee on October 27, 2009:

“Knowledge workers fuel innovation and growth, yet the nature of knowledge work remains poorly understood—as do the ways to improve its effectiveness. The heart of what knowledge workers do on the job is collaborate, which in the broadest terms means they interact to solve problems, serve customers, engage with partners, and nurture new ideas. Technology and workflow processes support knowledge worker success and are increasingly sources of comparative differentiation. Those able to use new technologies to reshape how they work are finding significant productivity gains. This article shares our research on how technology can improve the quality and output of knowledge workers.

Knowledge workers are growing in numbers. In some sectors of the economy, such as healthcare providers and education, they account for 75 percent of the workforce; in the United States, their wages total 18 percent of GDP. The nature of collaborative work ranges from high levels of abstract thinking on the part of scientists to building and maintaining professional contacts and information networks to more ground-level problem solving. […]

For companies, knowledge workers are expensive assets—earning a wage premium that ranges from 55 percent to 75 percent over the pay of workers who perform more basic production and transaction tasks. Yet there are wide variations in the performance of knowledge workers, as well as in their access to technologies that could improve it. Our research shows that the performance gap between top and bottom companies in collaboration-intense sectors is nine times that of production- or transaction-intense sectors. And that underscores what remains a significant challenge for corporations and national economics alike: how to improve the productivity of this prized and growing corps of workers (Exhibit 1). […]”

To see the full article, footnotes and exhibits please visit ‘Using technology to improve workforce collaboration’

“[…] Consider the collaborative creative work needed to win an advertising campaign or the high levels of service needed to satisfy public citizens. Or, in a similar vein, the interplay between a company and its customers or partners that results in an innovative product.

Raising the quality of these interactions is largely uncharted territory. Taking a systematic view, however, helps bring some of the key issues into focus. Our research suggests that improvements depend upon getting a better fix on who actually is doing the collaborating within companies, as well as understanding the details of how that interactive work is done. Just as important is deciding how to support interactions with technology—in particular, Web 2.0 tools such as social networks, wikis, and video. There is potential for sizeable gains from even modest improvements. Our survey research shows that at least 20 percent and as much as 50 percent of collaborative activity results in wasted effort. And the sources of this waste—including poorly planned meetings, unproductive travel time, and the rising tide of redundant e-mail communications, just to name a few—are many and growing in knowledge-intense industries. […]”

“[…] But most companies are only beginning to take these paths. That’s because, in many respects, raising the collaboration game differs from traditional ways of boosting productivity. In production and transaction work, technology use is often part of a broader campaign to reduce head counts and costs—steps that are familiar to most managers. In the collaboration setting, technology is used differently. It multiplies interactions and extends the reach of knowledge workers. That allows for the speedier product development found at P&G and improved partner and customer intimacy at Cisco. In general, this is new terrain for most managers. […]”

“[…] Web technologies can diminish the wasted efforts. Take the case of “searching”: inefficiencies arise when a staffer is unclear about which colleague within the organization may be tapped for specific knowledge to solve a problem. One remedy is network mapping, a technology that plots work relationships among individuals, reducing search time by providing insights into the pools of knowledge within the company,

Meanwhile, as more of knowledge workers’ output involves digital content, other forms of waste multiply. Fact checking, annotations, and edits lead to handoffs and serial revisions that we term “interpretation” waste. Similarly, as this digital information often must serve audiences across distribution channels—printed documents, PowerPoint slides, and videos, for example—inefficiencies arise from “translation.” At times content is needlessly reworked or even distorted as it crosses channel boundaries. […]”

As you can see below, BizSphere‘s knowledge management approach lets employees upload ‘user generated’ resources into the area ‘Community Content’. Another area you cannot see here would be ‘Official Content’. In all areas employees get to rate resources, to comment on them and to see how many of their peers downloaded them. One click on the left on ‘Contacts’ gives you visibility to who the subject matter experts for what you are looking at are and options to contact them. This reduces the search time by providing insights into the pools of knowledge within the company as talked about in the article above.

user generated content and comments as well as rating from peers

Gerhard Gschwandtner (@gerhard20), the Sales 2.0 and Sales Enablement expert from SellingPower.com, commented on the slide show:

“Great presentation! I think that this solution is head and shoulders ahead of some of your competitors I’ve written about recently in this post ‘Is Sales Enablement just Lipstick on a Knowledge Management Pig?’