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In Conversation with...Knosys CTO Nic Passmore

Nic Passmore joined Knosys in 2016 and has been at the helm of the team’s technical innovation strategy since then – leading the way to developing knowledge management features for customers and responding to their changing needs.

This year has brought a whole new set of challenges for Nic and his team as they adapt to providing all kinds of support for clients now working remotely and handling customer support queries arising from unprecedented demand on digital resources.

Knosys 2018 Head shots High Res (20)What sort of measures have you put in place to ensure your customers are able to function under the added pressure of the last couple of months and what sorts of additional support has been requested, especially from contact centres?

Although Knosys, like most other businesses, has had staff working from home over the course of the last few months, we have continued to be able to provide the high level of service that our customers expect. We’ve had quite a few requests for additional licenses over this period as customers have needed to expand access to their KM systems to support a wide range of activities, such as re-deploying staff and increased staffing within call centres. Fortunately, the KIQ Cloud platform is designed to be accessed by staff from wherever they are, whether working from home, the office or even the coffee shop down the street (although we haven’t seen as much of that style of working of late!) so we’ve been able to help our customers adapt to these trying times. Our team have been actively monitoring all our customer deployments, ensuring that each system is available and performing optimally.

What sort of opportunities have you seen transpire as a result of organisations beginning to look more seriously at new digital working arrangements and digital platforms as a means of ensuring continued communication and customer service?

We’ve definitely seen an increase in interest in knowledge management systems from organisations both large and small. With more and more organisations needing to have staff operating in non-traditional ways, the need to have a centralised, single source of truth for organisational knowledge and processes has become more pressing. Knowledge management is often seen by businesses as a “nice to have” rather than a necessity, but with staff not able to rely on the time tested mechanisms of sharing information, like walking over to a colleagues desk or tapping someone on the shoulder, there has been an uptick in interest in knowledge management systems. Although the circumstances that have brought this to the fore are clearly not great, the investment that companies are making now in these sort of systems will provide support for staff through not only this current period but will also continue to provide a return for businesses once we move through this, in reduced training costs, better customer service delivery and staff retention.

As a knowledge management solution provider that sits behind the technical scenes, what sorts of plans do you have for building additional features into the already successful platform you have in your enterprise product Knowledge IQ and Cloud-based full spectrum business solution KIQ Cloud?

We’re constantly looking at ways we can improve the KnowledgeIQ software and KIQ Cloud platform, and as always, we have a packed development roadmap at the moment. Our big push at the moment is a major update the agent interface to refresh the look and feel, make the interface more configurable to allow organisations to better tailor it to their userbase and to add greater support for multi-lingual and multi-region deployments. We’re also actively looking at how we can improve our automation and intelligence features; at the moment, that’s focused on improving our automatic spell-checking and word stemming capability to automatically learn new words and terms from an organisations content. Our roadmap is always pretty dynamic, with suggestions and feature requests regularly coming from our customer base. We always try to prioritise these requests to ensure that we’re able to give our customers the features and improvements they are looking for.

Knosys has been providing knowledge management tools for some of Australia’s biggest financial and telco companies for some time now, during which lots of trend topics and fads have come to pass. We have spoken a lot internally about the truth behind applied AI and the media hype that has been attached to that term without its potential being fully understood.  In the context of knowledge management, especially in contact centre settings, can you explain how your teams deploy AI and what that means practically?

Machine learning is truly a great tool. There is absolutely no doubt that machine learning across a variety of area’s is a truly exciting development and its great to see companies embracing it and developing the technology further. We’ve seen a lot of machine learning and AI claims, although a lot of them have really been targeted primarily at chat systems, replacing a human chat operator with a machine-learning system. These tools typically come with models that have been pre-trained to understand the specific language sets that the organisation is using, so they can be almost plug-and-play.

These are great tools, and they’re designed to do a specific job. Knosys uses machine learning in our KnowledgeIQ software as well, and just like the chatbot, its designed to do a specific job. We include a couple of different types of ML in our application, some designed to help Admin users, and some designed to help front-end users, like our SmartSearch technology.

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Image credit: Evgeni Tcherkasski 

SmartSearch uses a combination of natural language machine learning, statistical algorithms, semantic understanding and presentation to provide users with the most relevant information when searching. Natural language understanding helps to process the input search phrase to home in one the most important keywords and our algorithms use a variety of factors, including data points like how often articles are read and when they were last updated or reviewed to score each result for relevancy. We then present those articles in the context of the organisational information architecture, to give agents and user extra contextual information when viewing their results so they can get to the right information fast.

At Knosys we focus on making organisational knowledge smarter but enabling teams and individuals to find correct information quickly and to have instant access to the most trusted, relevant information their customers need. We also enable organisations to provide training and process guidance as well as workflows and collaboration online via the platform so no matter where staff are located, they can always improve their own knowledge and share with others – in this emerging state of remote worker necessity – what elements of KIQ Cloud have become powerful assets for your customers?

Everything you have already described, really! I think the biggest driver for the KIQ Cloud has been the ease of which companies are able to get started. The KIQ Cloud platform is designed to be super easy to get started with, with a simple and easy to use content creation system and a suite of easy to use functions to help with process visualisation and guidance and much more. One of the key features that our customers have been actively using during this period has been the feedback feature; with many employees working from home, the feedback system from KIQ Cloud has provided a great mechanism for content authors and subject matter experts to get, well, feedback from users who might be using the KM system for the first time.

Omnichannel and single source of truth are terms we use frequently in relation to the Knosys knowledge management solution. Can you explain what those terms mean in practice to someone considering this platform for their business and why having one place for company information is so important?

What these terms essentially boil down to are having a single place where all your organisational knowledge content is stored. Having everything in one place allows it to be centrally controlled and managed, can help to ensure governance and processes are adhered to and reduce effort from content duplication (which can also help to ensure users aren’t using old versions or outdated articles and processes!). This repository then becomes your single source of truth.

Once you have everything in one place, you can then start using it in different ways. Your KM system may have started out being an internal knowledge tool, but once you have all of your knowledge within the system, it can then be expanded to support other channels, such as your customer help portal, or your chatbot. Controls within your KM system, like those in KnowledgeIQ and the KIQ Cloud platform can be used to control who sees what, to ensure your customers only see the content that is designed for them, just as your agents see what you have given them access to.

In addition to the power this provides an organisation, it’s also great at improving efficiency! Rather than needing to update content in two, or three, or even four places, everything is in the one spot. This is great for reporting too, because you can see how all your different channels are consuming content from the one place, providing even greater insights!

As the conceptual brain behind the software – what excites you about the next phase of Knosys and what you’re bringing to the industry in Australia, New Zealand and Asian markets in particular?

At Knosys the team is really focused on two key priorities right now: improving the user experience of the application as well as how we can deliver knowledge to our customer’s staff in the most efficient and intuitive way possible. To that end, some of the most exciting things we’re working on at the moment include the interface update I talked to earlier, as well as some of the additional intelligence tools we’re planning on adding. These will make our search even better as well as providing better tools for administrators to help tune and tweak and personalise their solution. As we expand the solution, we’re also exploring how we can better serve our customers in the APAC region by improving the multi-lingual support in the application and whether we can integrate machine-translation systems into the tool to provide on-demand, multi-language content.

There is always a new and shiny technology around the corner, so our challenge is often working out which ones will really improve the experience for our customers. It’s for this reason we spend so much time talking to our customers to find out what they think, what areas they would like improved and what new features they’re looking for.

As Nic and his team continue to work around the clock to prioritise customer needs and build the best knowledge management solution on the market, we encourage you to speak to one of our team and find out if knowledge management in general, could benefit your business. 

Contact us to find out how Knosys KIQ Cloud helps facilitate remote working and enables a comprehensive business continuity plan to unfold. 

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Picture of Elise Kuchel By Elise Kuchel on July 2, 2020