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Entry submitted by: Becky Scott (lolagoetz), Jason Hurst (jashurst), Joana Dehanov (jdurande), Social Knowledge Program Managers
Community: Tech Zone (techzone.cisco.com), internal community
Lithy category: Support Savings MVP
Cisco is the worldwide leader in IT that helps companies seize the opportunities of tomorrow by proving that amazing things can happen when you connect the previously unconnected.
At Cisco customers come first and an integral part of our DNA is creating long-lasting customer partnerships and working with them to identify their needs and provide solutions that support their success.
Cisco's Support Community
The Services Business Capabilities team at Cisco has leveraged Lithium's capabilities to empower engineers in Cisco's Technical Assistance Center (TAC) to easily capture knowledge created through collaboration, reuse it internally, and share it directly with Cisco customers. We implemented more than 80 custom components within the Lithium platform to deliver a solution called Tech Zone to the TAC organization that is optimized for their needs and integrated into their workflow. The TAC is staffed by over 3,000 engineers spanning 20 facilities worldwide, bringing support to Cisco customers in over 180 countries in 17 different languages. Tech Zone has become a preferred channel for TAC engineers to collaborate, and has transformed not only the way TAC manages their intellectual capital but how Cisco communicates, collaborates, and serves its partners and customers.
Since its origins, Tech Zone has pushed the boundaries of what a Social Knowledge Management Environment is and what it can become. With the goal of empowering our support engineers to solve customer problems quickly and effectively, we have expanded the core capabilities of the Lithium platform by implementing many custom features to enhance the collaboration experience, streamline the support workflow, and provide additional channels for sharing content. Some examples are:
The "raise hand" feature allows users to draw attention to a discussion in progress in order to ask for additional help. Subject matter experts can subscribe to raised hand events as they do to other content, allowing them to be immediately notified when other engineers need assistance.
An internally developed tool we call Solution Buddy uses the Lithium APIs to integrate the platform with the salesforce.com instance TAC engineers use to manage support cases. It powers reuse of Tech Zone content by automatically surfacing relevant content within the salesforce.com interface, thereby enabling engineers to find answers to customer problems quickly without the need to search or leave their case management platform. It also lets them link relevant Tech Zone content to support cases, thus helping others solve similar problems in the future.
With the proliferation of articles in Tech Zone, content was becoming outdated or sometimes contained errors. We addressed this by implementing a document maintenance process. Users can click a link to flag any article that needs improvement. Then they must choose an option that describes why they flagged it (critical information needed, inaccurate information, duplicate content, etc.) and provide comments explaining what needs updating. Flagged articles enter a Knowledge Base Article Dashboard re-purposed to manage the process of moving them through the improvement workflow, and an email notification is sent to the users responsible for the article. Those users then submit changes for review by the flagger or moderator. When the changes are accepted, the article is updated and exits the flagged state.
The screen shot below shows an article that has been flagged for improvement. The next available actions are shown in the Actions widget, which in different states could be: Flag for Improvement, Suggest Additional Improvements, Improvements Completed, and Review Improvements.
Leveraging Lithium REST APIs, we automated the process of publishing Tech Zone articles to our corporate website at Cisco.com and our mobile support app. Sharing the most valuable articles in Tech Zone multiplies their value by enabling customers to quickly find their own answers when and where they need them, thereby reducing the number of support cases they need to open.
When an engineer reaches the rank of Associate Level 1 by participating in the community, they are given permission to "Nominate [Articles] for External Publication" from the Actions widget. Nominated articles are reviewed by technology specialists known as Technical Content Engineers, who then forward them to Technical Writers for further review and formatting before they are published to Cisco.com. The user interface includes links to move the article to the next step of the process and manage which users are collaborating to review the article. A Publishing Life Cycle widget lets users know the state of articles within the publishing pipeline.
Our innovations have increased productivity and reduced costs. The business impact driven by Tech Zone has grown significantly since the community was launched.
User activity in Tech Zone has increased steadily each year. We have driven user engagement through the unique use of leaderboards, and competitions such as Knowledge Champions League and TACode. As of the end of March 2015 there have been:
Our engagement initiatives and innovations both promote and facilitate user activity that leads to cost savings. Tech Zone articles shared with customers by publishing to Cisco.com and our mobile support app have saved Cisco over $24M so far this fiscal year (Aug 2014 through Mar 2015) by avoiding additional support cases, and are projected to save over $36M by the end of the year (July 2015). Last fiscal year the savings were over $17M, so the savings have nearly doubled year over year.
Cisco has embraced knowledge in an unprecedented way in order to transform our business and drive the success of our customers. The success of Tech Zone has proven that the Lithium platform is much more powerful than discussion boards. By pioneering new methodologies and human-centered behaviors that are not led only by tools, we have evolved to truly "social" knowledge management, which provides just-in-time, as well as institutional learning. Any organization can transition from email communications to a collaborative environment where knowledge valuable to the organization and its customers is naturally captured, enhanced, and reused by the community, and users that create and curate that content can be empowered and recognized. As word of our success spreads, our engagements have expanded to include onboarding Cisco Engineering, Professional Services, and Sales organizations, as well as expanding our technical support community to include Cisco Partners.
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