The Knowledge-Model Driven Enterprise (22 Nov 2004)
This customer’s information environment presents a classic information architecture challenge: only an expert can reliably navigate all of the company’s product information. Obtaining relevant information involves using several different computer systems for different pieces of the puzzle, finding the right set of documents and the right content within those documents, applying oral tradition to bridge the gap between external documentation and internal systems, as well as occasionally using a scratchpad and calculator! As a result, a skilled salesperson or an engineer must be involved in virtually every customer transaction. From a business perspective, this means that transaction handling is inefficient, costly, and error-prone; customer self-service is simply impossible; and scaling the sales organization is extremely difficult.
The core challenge is simply that huge gaps exist in the company’s underlying data model. No single, authoritative database describes how the product set should be organized, classified, and presented to non-experts. No data anywhere describes the characteristics of the products and their models. No model of the company’s people, departments, and their responsibilities and relationships exists.
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