Years ago, I started as the 5th employee at a small AI consulting firm. Our CTO was an expert in this field, and back then we were one of the first agencies focussing on AI technology.
Demand from clients was growing but finding the right people was a big problem. Senior profiles in AI were working at large companies like Google, Amazon or Facebook, impossible to compete with as a small agency, while universities hadn’t caught up with their curriculum yet.
The only way we could grow and meet market demand was by recruiting smart, young people and training them with a relentless focus on knowledge sharing.
We kept knowledge sharing as a core principle of our growth path, and quickly noticed that it worked.
It worked really great.
- We quickly grew to over 30 people
- We built an expert brand around AI technology
- We were attracting the most talented young people and quickly training them to become proficient in AI
- Clients wanted to work with us since we had the best people and expertise
Knowledge management breaks quickly
Then, we noticed the system started to crack at the seams.
Once we reached the threshold of 30 people, our old ways of managing knowledge were starting to fail.
- Our one-on-one approach of training people didn’t scale
- Our Drive folders were exploding with information and no one could find anything
- People we’re constantly asking “Who can help me with topic X”, or “do we have references in industry Y”
- People even flat out stopped documenting and sharing insights because no one used any of it anyway
As we kept growing (fortunately), this situation was getting worse, and at 50 people it was impacting our growth significantly.
- Sales and pre-sales people were having a hard time finding reference cases and knowing our offerings, and we were starting to lose deals
- People were reinventing things from scratch, we were missing project deadlines and seeing our margins decrease
- Onboarding new people took way longer than before
- People were starting to complain that they weren’t learning fast enough and feeling isolated working on a project, while the initial reason for joining us was to learn from the best
Our growth was stalling and we saw more and more competitors in the market every quarter.
So, problem solvers as we are, we started looking for solutions. We tried everything from starting a company wiki to building up a knowledge base and even launching an elaborate intranet. But these siloed systems required tons of manual curation, complicated tagging and naming rules, and felt like yet another tool to maintain. Huge effort, huge costs, fast decline in quality.
When we discussed this problem with other leaders, it dawned on us - this is a universal problem. It wasn’t just us, each and every person we spoke to had this very same problem.
And back then, the solution to this problem didn’t exist.
Don't add more tools, add intelligence
Being at the forefront of Artificial Intelligence, we saw that AI had reached a point where it actually could solve this problem in a game changing way.
Using knowledge graphs, a powerful technology - also used by Google to basically understand the entire internet - that takes raw information, understands it and maps it into interconnected knowledge, we were able to build the foundations of a new product category called Knowledge Experience.
From Knowledge Management to Knowledge Experience
Knowledge Experience is the new way to gather information across different tools and make your knowledge accessible, reusable and insightful across your organisation, without changing any of your processes or tools.
Thanks to this new technology, our teams were in essence able to:
- Build higher quality proposals faster and continue to win more deals
- Increase efficiency and project margins significantly
- Spot more upsell opportunities across business units
- Scale knowledge sharing, grow employee engagement, while attracting the best talent
And really, make the people happier by letting them focus on things at hand, not more rules, protocols or endless digging.
Today, every consulting firm and agency that puts knowledge sharing at the core of their strategy can start experiencing and leveraging their knowledge in profound, directly applicable new ways, without changing any of their processes or tools with uman’s out-of-the-box Knowledge Experience Platform (KXP).
This is how strong, even hyper growth is achievable, and in the end it’s the annual growth and turnover that values your company and gives it oxygen to invest in your people. Your expertise, employee engagement and margins are key components.
But you need to start now. Time is a big factor.
Every day you wait, the problem gets worse, increasingly. And every day you don't, the AI gets better, you have happier people and close more deals.
Interested in knowing how, exactly?