Let’s face it: most companies are bad at capturing community knowledge. And then there’s the problem of making what is captured findable again. One of the problems with most corporate knowledge is that you have to know where to go to find the right information. While search certainly helps employees surface content, there are limitations: to be effective, your search strategy — and even modern social graphing — still relies on content classification, taxonomy, and social interactions to help employees find what they’re looking for. Of course, one way to improve the overall user experience is to start using social Q&A.
What is Social Q&A?
If you’ve spent any time at all online, you’ve probably participated in a social Q&A activities. Sites like Quora and Stack Overflow have been around for years, with millions of questions asked — and millions of answers shared from the community. While most corporate sites do their best to provide descriptions and outlines of products and projects, using Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and various knowledgebase solutions and strategies, people inevitably have questions. Social Q&A allows people to ask questions using natural language. Respondents from within the community then have the ability to answer using their own words — and attaching links or documentation to help answer the question.
Communities have been providing a place for questions and answers since the early internet use of bulletin board systems (BBS), however the treatment of these interactions as standalone information artifacts, made searchable within an information management platform such as SharePoint with features allowing people to share and “up-vote” the best answers is relatively new.
When end users are allowed to use natural language to describe what they need, and respondents are able to not only answer — but also attach relevant content and links from within the knowledge management platform, employees are more likely to find the answers they need. Additionally, their questions and the community-driven responses through social Q&A interactions become additional information assets within the platform, increasing the searchability (i.e. context) of the answers (content).
Enriching the Search Experience
Giving people the ability to ask and answer questions within communities of practice can have a positive impact on adoption. Social Q&A helps surface questions within your organization that may be going unanswered. If people feel that they are unable to get useful information out of SharePoint, they are less likely to use the platform, plain and simple. But people also want to share their knowledge and experience — some of which may be outside of their current role. Most organizations are not tapping into the wisdom of the crowd.
Even without the technology usually associated with it, Q&A is inherently a social activity because it draws people together. When people ask questions, their peers want to help answer them. It becomes a virtuous cycle.
There is tremendous value in having all of this data within SharePoint, rather than spread across various external tools and corporate knowledgebase solutions. No matter how thorough the formal documentation of a process or project, people will have questions — and will introduce scenarios outside of your documentation. Social Q&A adds real-world questions and enables more complete answers — in terminology that people understand, because they’re using their own words to describe what they need. It also allows anyone within the community to answer, and to vote on answers, helping the best, most accurate answer to rise to the top.
If implemented within SharePoint, the questions and answers not only become part of your search results — they are tied to relevant content already within your environment, strengthening the relevancy of that content. Social Q&A gives end users much faster access to organizational knowledge and expertise: posts can be shared, friends and colleagues invited to participate, with mechanisms to follow a question or related tag, like, rate, approve or disapprove — all of which enriches the metadata associated with the related content.
Social Q&A is especially powerful when used within live events or meetings, allowing the presenter or moderator to quickly view questions as they are asked, and based on how people respond or vote, where to provide more detail or follow-up.
What social Q&A is really all about is giving people faster access to organizational knowledge, and helping them identify the right subject matter experts (SMEs), which is why Beezy includes this powerful functionality within our solution. And because Beezy is built on SharePoint, for SharePoint, every question asked and answer provided becomes part of your collective corporate knowledge. Social Q&A adds context to both your content and personal profiles, helping to make your data more accessible, and your content more findable.
If you’ve not yet seen a demo of the award-winning Beezy platform, isn’t it about time you schedule a demo?