Enterprises risk losing critical information by allowing individual employees to carry their knowledge expertise out the door when they leave a company due to layoffs or other attrition, according to SupportSoft Inc., a provider of support automation software.

Gartner, Inc., an information technology (IT) research and advisory firm, indicates that 80 percent of a company's digital resources are not accessible to the enterprise as a whole because they are stored as personal files on individual computing systems. This problem can be especially acute in maintaining high levels of technical support for a company's employees, where access to a timely, relevant and up-to-date knowledge base for answers to user problems is essential.

Gartner also estimates that 90 percent of businesses surveyed suffer from “information overload.” Of the companies surveyed, Gartner found that the perception of information overload was 20 percent higher overall among companies that had knowledge management systems in place, compared to those which didn't. Traditional knowledge management solutions have tried to address this situation but have been ineffective due to costly manual upkeep and an inability to consistently access the most relevant responses to employee questions.

A new category of software termed knowledge automation ensures that information assets don't leave a company when an IT employee departs. Knowledge automation enables companies to easily capture, store and quickly retrieve essential technical information developed by their employees and to provide access to knowledge anywhere within the company's network when a support question needs to be answered. The result is that valuable knowledge doesn't leave the enterprise with ex-employees, but instead appreciates over time with the added contributions of past and present staff. Moreover, it can help ensure the quality of the information by automatically delivering personalized answers to requested questions.

"Knowledge automation represents the next step in the evolution of knowledge management for service and support delivery, moving beyond costly, cumbersome knowledge management and dated or irrelevant information," said Bruce Mowery, vice president of marketing of SupportSoft, Inc. "For companies that are seeking to 'institutionalize' critical knowledge in the face of shrinking headcount and budgets, knowledge automation can help ensure that vital information is always available. The result is that employees can resolve technical problems on their own, without putting additional pressure on IT staff that are coping with reduced resources."

To help businesses better understand how knowledge management is evolving into knowledge automation, SupportSoft has published a white paper entitled “Achieving Higher Levels of User Self-Sufficiency with Knowledge Automation.” A free copy is available by visiting www.supportsoft.com.

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