In addition to the integration of the many disparate, often previously isolated systems, companies who rely on knowledge management as critical to their core business model also create a specific layer dedicated to just analytics (Dolezalek, 2003). These frameworks increasingly rely on data mining and search algorithms that can traverse databases and systems from a wide variety of Accenture practice and development teams, even those that are legacy-based and internally developed.
Yet another aspect of the KX Global Roadmap is the requirement of concentrating on how to compensate for the wide variation in structured relative to unstructured data throughout the organization as well. The case study only partially mentions this, yet it is a very critical concern given how much Accenture clients are relying on this firm to interpret and make the most of all forms of content, from the highly structured data that is generated from IT systems to unstructured data gained from Web 2.0 (Bernoff, Li, 2008) applications and technologies. Clearly in the case study (Terjessen, 2003) there is little thought into how, once the Lotus Notes transition is achieved, that the company will manage both unstructured and structured data. This is a strategic oversight the company must address going forward. The best practices of transforming both unstructured and structured content into linguistic models that can further strengthen Accenture's thought leadership and unique differentiation is called Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) (Wei, Yang, Lin, 2008). Google uses LSI extensively in their PageRank algorithm, and it is increasingly being proven as a technology for interpreting the massive amounts of unstructured content organizations need to interpret and act on to further strengthen their knowledge management initiatives (Wei, Yang, Lin, 2008). LSI techniques for categorizing data and making it into a strategic asset is critical for an ECM framework to be exceptionally valuable, and this especially holds true for KX Global Rollout (Wei, Yang, Lin, 2008). Figure 1, Deloitte Knowledge Management Timeline, provides a comparison of each phase of their journey to knowledge management being strategic vs. isolated and often disconnected as a resource. The transition from Lotus Notes to the KX Global Rollout did not follow the traditional progression of senior management dictating the need for this; rather, it was the realization that for each member of a development team to excel in their jobs, an urgent redirection of strategy was critical (Terjessen, 2003).
Figure 1: Deloitte Knowledge Management Timeline
In auditing the knowledge management processes within Deloitte, it was obvious that the extensive amount of insights, expertise and intellect that the company had acquired from serving customers was not being applied to the firm's own challenges. A case of cobbler's children so to speak, Deloitte had failed to turn one of its most potentially lethal competitive weapons, its own accumulated knowledge, into a strong service differentiator over the long-term. In their competitors including McKinsey & Company (Nemati, 2002) the strategic planning processes center on the continual improvement of knowledge management and decision support, as the continual improvement of internal processes is critical for McKinsey to stay competitive. The ancillary strategic goals of ensuring a continually higher level of customer service and support, the continual improvement of sales and marketing, and the support of new research and new services development processes all are critical strategic priorities for McKinsey & Company, Accenture and the many other advisory firms in this industry. Paradoxically however these advisory firms and consultancies vary significantly in terms of their ability to transform knowledge into a lasting competitive asset they can use to retain and grow their client bases.
In conclusion, after
Key management practices that have been included in this audit of Accenture begin with an analysis of how balkanized the knowledge management processes are, including a sure symptom of this occurring within any organizational culture, the proliferation of portals across divisions and even within departments (Neumann, O'Murchu, Breslin, Decker, et al. 2005). As the article specifically shows through a series of vignettes and short scenarios, in the absence of a synchronized content management and knowledge management strategy, associates are left to forage and seek out information through their informal contacts.(Terjessen, 2003). While downplayed in the case, this can often lead to information and knowledge hoarding in the most lucrative practice areas while also leading to knowledge scarcity in those areas were associates feel they must protect the information they have to protect their jobs. In essence without a strong ECM framework that was originally defined as the KX strategy, inadequate manual processes, often highly time-consuming and reliant more on informal networks than process enablement strategically, significantly slow down the performance of any organization. The ensuing resistance to change specifically in the area of information and data sharing can be crippling to any enterprise IT strategy, which has often been the case in Enterprise Resourcing Planning (ERP) systems for example (Newell, Huang, Tansley, 2006). Second, each of the divisions with Accenture had their own taxonomies, ontologies and specific indexes defined for traversing the knowledge they tended to protect in their networks. Third, each division had gone as far as to also create their own knowledge management applications and escalation procedures for getting and giving assistance within their own teams. The audit shows the dangers that can happen with a firm becomes too myopic with regard to their knowledge management strategies. Compounding all these factors are the point that resistance to change had never been higher as many associates equated their value to Accenture by the amount of information they controlled within their own departments and divisions.
Key Issues and Challenges Accenture Faced
Most significant is the resistance to change that Accenture will have to deal with as it attempts to get the dozens of applications throughout individual work teams consolidated for use across the entire organization. Resistance to change will be extremely difficult to contend with over the entire duration of this project. The success or failure of the KX Global Rollout will be in proportion to how effective the project leaders are in infusing a high sense of ownership in each of those Accenture teams most impacted by the corporate-wide knowledge management project. This issue of change management had to be dealt with head-on and daily in order for the KX Global Rollout to succeed.
Additional challenges are in the areas of application development, design, navigation and integration of existing applications into the KX Global platform, logistics and an introduction to the use of corporate-wide processes over merely relying on information networks for fulfilling information and knowledge requests. Despite the fact that Deloitte did have databases, the lack of integration across them hindered the ability of associates to better collaborate with each other and with clients to get them to their goals (Themistocleous, Mantzana, Morabito, 2009).
The application development phase of the KX Global Rollout was a major challenge for Accenture as well. Aside from the "not invented here" attitude that many had for the development being done offshore in India for the KX Global Portal, ironically many of the system analysts given responsibility for working with the Indian development teams realized their skill sets surpassed that of the developers. There was also the lack of accountability for missed deadlines and a cultural disconnect between the Accenture teams supporting offshore development with domain expertise about the company and its processes. In the Accenture culture, deadlines and schedules were sacrosanct yet in the Indian offshore developer, they were often missed. This caused significant friction between the two groups. Second, the design and navigation of the KX Global Knowledge system had to take into account over thirty different applications, all created by separate groups throughout Accenture. This led to the development teams having to create entirely new approaches to integrating systems together. This also forced the need fro specific ontological relationships between databases that had never been integrated together before, in addition to the development of entirely new taxonomies that could align successfully with the specific strategic directions of Accenture. In effect this change to design of the KX Global knowledge system began to illustrate how the company had to change their fundamental approach to knowledge management so it became more strategic, less tactical, more enterprise-wide, less siloed.
A third major key issue and challenge was the fact that the majority of Accenture associates work remotely, either at client's locations or out of their home. This made the aspect of resistance to change particularly difficult to manage. Exacerbating this challenging area of the development as the fact that often in new development, those associates who rely most heavily on the information are expected to give up the majority of their access for the good of everyone else, corporate wide. Again, this illustrates how critical it is in any knowledge management implementation to take into account resistance to change and quickly move to alleviate it.
Another challenge was the lack of common ontologies across the entire organization, in addition to…