I remember being spellbound as I listened to author and business guru Tom Peters address a large gathering at last year's IBM Global Supply Chain Executive Conference. "There's a white-collar revolution taking place right now," he bellowed. Number crunchers and executives have placed the blue-collar workforce under a microscope for years. Technology has allowed companies to produce more widgets with fewer employees. Productivity and efficiency numbers have risen largely through automating the processes performed on the manufacturing floor, in the warehouse, or during distribution.
Now, it's time to take a hard look at the white-collar business processes. How valuable is that employee who resides three doors down from your office? While we're at it, what is the value that you bring to the company?
New Knowledge Management Suite
Peters' presentation and forceful points rushed back into my mind as I attended a press conference at Lotusphere a couple months ago in Orlando, FL. The main topic of discussion at the standing room only briefing was Lotus' new knowledge management suite, called Raven
. According to company literature, and supported at the press conference, Raven
includes content tracking and analysis, user profiling and expertise location, and a portal to manage personal and community information and activity. If the information at the Lotusphere press conference holds true, Raven
will be beta tested in the spring and launched in the middle of 2000.
What are the most valuable documents taking up space in your company's data warehouse? Raven
can answer that question. Documents that have been accessed, printed, and bookmarked are considered much more valuable than those documents that are infrequently or never accessed. If a company can track this activity, it can assign value to certain types of information.
Tracking document activity also tells a great deal about employees themselves. For example, your company may be trying to acquire an company in Latin America. By tracking who accesses documents related to this topic (e.g., acquisitions or Latin American business), a company can identify employees with certain expertise.
What Expertise Do You Offer?
This may all sound a bit Orwellian, but it will allow companies to more accurately locate experts within their organizations. Currently, searching for a particular expertise within a company often yields no results or plenty of unproductive conversations with employees who aren't quite suited for a task. However, a knowledge management suite, such as Raven
, allows companies to profile employee skills. Once identified, these experts will receive information and tasks most suited for them. It will also allow companies to accurately reward those employees based on their expertise and the value they provide.
So, how valuable are you? What expertise do you bring to your company? If the documents you most frequently access aren't work-related, the days of wine and roses may be over. Conversely, you may be confined to a Dilbert-like cube, constantly thinking that your company doesn't appreciate what you bring to the table every day. If this is the case, then you should welcome with open arms a new method of measuring performance. In either situation, the microscope will now be on you. So, keep up the good work. Or, if applicable, lay off the espn.com.
Questions about this article? E-mail the author at EdH@corrypub.com.