Avoiding the Black Hole of Static Knowledge Bases

Posted by Stephanie Ventura on Oct 17, 2017 7:37:12 AM

black hole

A knowledge management system is only as good as the knowledge it contains, and new artificial intelligence tools can help make sure your knowledge base doesn't fall out of date. To explain how, consider the world's most well-known knowledge management system: Wikipedia.

Wikipedia has all but wiped out the traditional encyclopedia industry for two reasons: it covers far more topics than any conventionally printed encyclopedia could, and it is fanatically updated by thousands of volunteer editors and contributors.

Your in-house wiki, FAQ, or document library is not so lucky, not least because compiling a list of Teen Wolf characters (one of the 25 most in-depth Wikipedia articles) is probably more fun than updating the screenshots of your application's latest configuration page controls.

Even if you have a full-time documentation team paid to keep your knowledge base current, that team isn't pre-cognitively aware that changes are necessary. It requires a rigorous, company-wide embrace of documentation to ensure that your internal knowledge base stays in sync with your current product and service offerings, pricing schemes, implementation processes, and support policies, in addition to updating internal tools like the company org chart, executive biographies, the employee handbook, your code of conduct, your privacy policy, your brand guidelines, your agencies and vendors of record, and benefits open enrollment instructions.

Every department must either directly update the knowledge base with every relevant change they make to your processes, procedures, or products, or those same departments must brief your documentation team on those changes and have that group record the changes in the appropriate area of your knowledge management system.

The beauty of Wikipedia is that any fan of Teen Wolf, from a teenage viewer in rural Montana to show creator Jeff Davis, can contribute directly and update the content. Even if your knowledge management system is similarly open – or even a wiki itself – it's a rare organization that has the same zeal for documentation as Wikipedians.

Your wiki will almost certainly succumb to wiki-rot, wherein documentation grows stale, and your knowledge base is no longer current, accurate, or useful. Along with problems searching and creating a knowledge base, wiki-rot is one of the three most serious problems faced by knowledge management solutions.

Modern artificial intelligence software can prevent wiki-rot by serving as a virtual editor of your in-house Wikipedia. The same software that allows virtual assistants like Apple's Siri or Microsoft's Cortana to anticipate when you need a boarding pass, directions to work, or reviews of a restaurant can allow a virtual editor to anticipate when a knowledge base article needs to be created, updated, or re-indexed for easier search.

These assistants can do more than simply nag you to edit your in-house wiki. An AI agent for your knowledge base can also suggest information that should be included in a knowledge base article in the same way that Gmail can automatically add events to your Google Calendar. Machine learning has been building the basic tools for a self-managed knowledge base for nearly a decade; the time has come for AI to do the grunt work of keeping your knowledge base current.

If you're not moving forward, you're lagging behind. Try Talla for Knowledge Management today.

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Topics: AI, Artificial Intelligence, knowledge management