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The community will set you free

Studies have shown that using bad information can cause drops in productivity, something we discussed in our last installment of our How to Cost Justify Your Social Knowledge Network Needs series. To give you a better idea of how this concept plays out, I'm illustrating a real-world example.

Consider a lead scientist in a pharmaceutical company at the late stages of a drug testing project. Say she has access to a vetted, high-quality, relevant report describing the side effects of the drug in a certain section of the population that's prone to Alzheimer's disease. This report would inform her decision to continue testing. Failure to do so might lead to a more prolonged and expensive FDA approval process, or even costly and damaging litigation.

Many organizations are forced to address data quality because of other strict regulations, such as Sarbanes-Oxley, FDA regulations, Six Sigma requirements, and so on. Addressing these regulations not only has an effect on expenses, but also can play a significant role in driving revenue.

For instance, "By introducing data quality initiatives, some companies have added millions of dollars to their bottom line as they gain benefits such as increased sales, lower distribution costs, and better compliance,"according to Gartner analyst Andreas Bitterer.

It is critical that information professionals and, more importantly, worker communities, inform the organization as to the quality and relevance of the content in their systems. Bitterer recommends that "organizations need 'data stewards,' people within the business who are responsible for the quality of the information."

However, the reality is that businesses are finding it increasingly difficult to identify and empower these individuals. In addition, this "weeding and feeding" action is a collaborative, ongoing process, requiring multiple professionals.

A solution lies in "social curation," which leverages the community's knowledge and wisdom. Technologies to enable this are critical. A core capability of a social knowledge management system is the ability of the community as a whole to provide this weeding and feeding capability, rather than relying solely on a single individual or group for this activity.

This creates an efficient, high-quality system, which is particularly beneficial when organizations are short on staff and funding. I'll unfold that onion next time!

SKN Value Prop: Leveraging community wisdom makes it easy and efficient to find the information you're looking for.

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