KM Conversation: The Uses and Benefits of Analytics

Stan Garfield

Stan Garfield

March 12, 2020
In this final post of my series on analytics, I’ll discuss making evidence-based decisions.
There will be a companion free webinar on March 25, 2020 (subscription link at the foot of this post).

The largest barrier to good decision making is a lack of information. When provided with accurate and complete data, most people can make good decisions.

Reviewing collected information can reveal patterns, trends, or tendencies that can be exploited, expanded, or corrected. Distilling data to extract the essence leads to gaining insights, discovering new ideas, and learning how to improve. Identifying questions that are asked repeatedly allows FAQs, self-paced learning, and user manuals to be created and enhanced.


Formal surveys can be used to decide which KM products and services to add, delete, improve, or maintain.

  • Use an Opportunities Survey to identify current challenges and needs, and request suggestions for addressing them. Use this survey to determine business needs which knowledge management can support. This survey is generally conducted once when starting a new KM initiative but can be used periodically to ensure that new requirements are identified.
  • Conduct a Resource Survey to compile a list of people, process, and technology components that are currently in use, determine the usefulness of each one, and request suggestions for additions. Use this survey to find out which tools are currently popular and to identify gaps in meeting user needs. This survey is generally conducted at the beginning of a KM program, and periodically repeated to calibrate and adjust the program components.
  • Implement a regular Employee Satisfaction Survey to solicit feedback on how your KM program is perceived by its users. Use this survey to stay in touch with how your users view the program, what they like, and what needs to be improved. This survey should be conducted monthly during the first year of a KM initiative, and annually thereafter if the results remain stable.

Business Intelligence

Business Intelligence (BI) is the ability for an organization to take all its capabilities and convert them into knowledge. BI includes many techniques and tools:

  • Text analytics: analyzing unstructured text, extracting relevant information, and transforming it into useful business intelligence.
  • Data mining: finding anomalies, patterns, and correlations within large data sets to predict outcomes.
  • Data visualization: any effort to help people understand the significance of data by placing it in a visual context; patterns, trends and correlations that might go undetected in text-based data can be exposed and recognized easier with data visualization software.
  • Big data: extremely large data sets that may be analyzed computationally to reveal patterns, trends, and associations, especially relating to human behavior and interactions.
  • Databases: collections of information organized for easy access, management, and updating.
  • Data warehouses: copies of transaction data specifically structured for querying and reporting.
  • Data lakes: storage repositories that hold a vast amount of raw data in its native format, including structured, semi-structured, and unstructured data; the data structure and requirements are not defined until the data is needed.

Uses and Benefits of Analytics

Analytics and business intelligence can enable making good decisions, acting efficiently, optimizing processes, inventing and innovating, communicating effectively, influencing people, and improving business performance. Here are examples of each:

  • Making good decisions: Decide on the optimal locations for stores, restaurants, manufacturing plants, and other business sites.
  • Acting efficiently: Compare alternative courses of action and their expected impact and use the results to take the best action.
  • Optimizing processes: Use data visualization to show the bottlenecks in the current process and take steps to eliminate them.
  • Inventing: Use surveys to determine gaps in product and service offerings and create new ones in response.
  • Innovating: Sports teams develop innovative strategies, for example, shifting infielders for each batter in baseball based on their past tendencies.
  • Communicating effectively: Convey details of the current state and the desired future state to support the management of change.
  • Influencing people: When customers shop online, suggest other products to buy – for example, customers who bought this book also bought these other books.
  • Improving business performance: Decide when and where to invest, divest, merge, acquire, and maintain the status quo.

Using analytics can help you provide the right content, communicate effectively, and make good decisions. Search analytics, web analytics, metrics and reporting, surveys, and business intelligence all contribute to improved business results.

Stan Garfield

Stan Garfield

KM expert, consultant, and author Stan Garfield will be presenting the next in a series of KM Conversations for Lucidea on Wednesday, March 25, 2020 at 11:00 am Pacific, 2:00 pm Eastern—reserve your spot now! Stan has compelling information to share, based on his distinguished career as a KM practitioner. Read his posts for our Think Clearly blog, and learn about Inmagic Presto, which has powered the KM  initiatives of many organizations.

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