Shared from the Tue 18 Sep, 2018 - Financial Review Digital Edition

How smart is your company?

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Knosys CEO John Thompson believes KnowledgeIQ can help a company harness its full potential.

We all know the type – the intellectually gifted kid who could recite the periodic table in grade three, yet never quite lived up to their potential. Many a smart youngster has learnt the hard way that a high IQ won’t get you far without the skills to apply and communicate innate intelligence.

Now, increasingly, those who manage our most successful companies are recognising that the same applies to organisations. A business may have the most cutting-edge technology and the smartest employees, but without the mindset and systems to share and build on its raw knowledge, it is unlikely to achieve its full potential.

“Just as humans may not necessarily use their IQ to their advantage, the same is true for organisations,” says John Thompson, chief executive of Knosys, a Melbourne-based company that works at the cutting edge of organisational intelligence, developing knowledge management systems for companies including ANZ Bank, Optus and Singapore’s telecommunications giant, Singtel.

“Without the ability to capture the knowledge of subject matter experts, share learnings or improvements to processes, or provide access to organisational knowledge, many organisations fail to reach their intellectual potential,” he says.

The concept of organisational intelligence first gained traction in the 1980s and ’90s and has gathered momentum as the digital revolution transforms the way we work. While today’s companies have unprecedented access to new markets, increased efficiencies and a breadth of knowledge and skills that were unimaginable just a few years ago, the digital age has also brought unforeseen challenges – how to manage the deluge of information flowing into and out of the business, and how to keep a decentralised and remote workforce engaged and on message.

These were some of the challenges facing ANZ Bank 10 years ago as it moved to outsource certain business functions to India and the Philippines. A key management concern was how to maintain a consistent customer experience regardless of whether a worker was based in Melbourne or Manilla. “They wanted a tool that could do some element of training and process guidance to assist in showing people how to do things in the correct manner,” says Thompson. “But they also wanted something that would enable users to provide feedback about things that weren’t working or insights that they picked up during their interaction with customers.”

A small Collingwood-based digital agency won the tender to develop a knowledge management platform to provide a user-friendly hub for the bank’s remote workers to receive and exchange information. The platform, dubbed Knosys after the Greek word for knowledge, was rolled out to about 300 users in 2010.

This was no old-school intranet system – a seldom-used repository for stale and irrelevant information. Instead, it was an intuitive platform that could link multiple information sources and push out that content most relevant to individual users’ roles and needs. Users could send feedback to document authors, who could then update information as needed, triggering alerts to the users that changes had been made. Sensitive data could be hidden from view so only authorised users could see it.

It proved so successful that the bank soon began rolling it out to other departments, including its retail branches. By 2013, almost 10,000 ANZ workers were plugged in.

At the same time, the system’s developers realised it could be replicated and sold to other large, complex businesses. So Knosys was spun into a stand-alone company, which listed on the Australian stock exchange in 2015 with a $4 million capital raising.

Three years on, Knosys has won a clutch of high profile customers in Australia, New Zealand and Singapore for its “intelligent intranet” platform, now known as KnowledgeIQ, and has expanded its full-time staff from 2.5 to 17. Sales have grown about 50 per cent each year to $2.7 million in FY 18. But, says Thompson, it’s just the beginning.

Buoyed by a $4 million rights issue in July, the company has turned its sights from large $250 million-plus turnover enterprises to mid-tier organisations. There are plans to roll out a cloudbased version of KnowledgeIQ later this year, to make it more accessible to businesses in the $50-200 million revenue bracket.

“We don’t want to be reliant on three or four major enterprises,” says Thompson. “We want to have 100 customers, and to grow that to 150 to 300 customers over the next two to three years.”

The company also has an eye on the fastgrowing US market and will send a team to the world’s largest knowledge management conference in Washington DC this November, as a springboard for entering America in 2020.

Thompson has no illusions about the magnitude of this latest challenge and plans to link with onthe-ground partners to help with the US push. Still, he is confident KnowledgeIQ, one of the few platforms on the market that work across an entire organisation, can hold its own on a world stage.

The company also hopes new artificial intelligence features will give its platform a competitive edge – enabling faster searching and allowing documents to be automatically scanned, grouped and promoted based on the frequency of use.

But for all the platform’s technological wizardry, Thompson says it all comes down to helping companies make the most of the knowledge they already possess. “If you have 100 people in your business and they all have an IQ of 100 or more, that’s technically an IQ of more than 10,000. The question is, are you using that effectively?”

‘Just as humans may not necessarily use their IQ to their advantage, the same is true for organisations.’

John Thompson, CEO, Knosys

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