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CASE STUDY: Ernst & Young charges intranet with Verity

Knowledge is power, as the saying goes. Ernst & Young understands this better than most - the firm has one of the largest knowledge infrastructures in the world and is the only professional services firm to have been recognized as one of the world's top five "Most Admired Knowledge Enterprises"1 in each of the last two years.

Ernst & Young uses knowledge to win work and to improve its service to its clients. Knowledge is an integral part of the business, and Ernst & Young has a tremendous opportunity to re-apply its existing expertise and experience. Consequently, the company's intranet - the Ernst &
Young/KnowledgeWeb ("KWeb") - must be available to, and be used by every professional in the firm.

The KWeb consists of a web based front end, which is linked to an extensive back end that includes powerful Verity information retrieval technology, Lotus Notes/Domino databases, web pages and various other technologies. It has been developed and maintained by the Ernst & Young Centre for Business Knowledge (CBK). The CBK's base of internal clients amounts to over 85,000 client serving professionals world wide and the KWeb is accessible in all countries with the appropriate infrastructure in place to support the intranet technology.

Before KWeb, users navigated their way through the available knowledge content held on various systems by using a Notes catalogue, which relied on "taxonomy", or a formal classification system. The challenge for Ernst & Young was to bring all the discrete repositories of knowledge content together into one knowledge architecture which could be searched, so that knowledge retrieval could be more efficient and timely. The search engine is similar to those that are available on the public Internet in that it uses key words or phrases to search across many repositories. Since information is classified into information directories organised by familiar business categories, taxonomic searches are also possible. Users can navigate information directories easily, combining searching and browsing for more intuitive knowledge discovery.

In 1994, Ernst & Young started to build up its core knowledge bases using a Lotus Notes infrastructure. The first prototype of the KWeb was deployed in April 1997, using Verity technology. KWeb is now in its fifth version and changes have been made in its scope and architecture, which have been reconfigured to meet the demands of the business. Furthermore, the addition of multi-lingual features has led to a more effective global operating base.

At the end of 1999, KWeb attracted 900,000 user sessions per month. The central, searchable, knowledge content consists of more than 950,000 documents in English, plus thousands more in German, French, Dutch and Swedish. The sheer volume of the firm's knowledge resources was a critical reason behind Ernst & Young's decision to work with Verity, given their ability to tackle the issue of scale. Combine this with Verity's capability in areas such as native Notes connectivity and advanced search - and a winning partnership was formed.

The Verity knowledge retrieval solution is also used by another of Ernst & Young's key knowledge management tools - Community HomeSpace. By accessing a simple graphical navigator with context-sensitive hotspots, users in a defined community of interest can invoke searches which bring back only the highest quality knowledge that is relevant to the community's needs. Users don't need to know where the information is stored because it is automatically retrieved for them.

Tim Curry, global chief knowledge officer at Ernst & Young, said: "We look forward to continuing our strong relationship with Verity, which has a solid grasp on our need to create world-class knowledge management solutions. Verity and Ernst & Young share a common vision and commitment to addressing the practical needs of knowledge management, and this for us has been, and continues to be, crucial to our success."

Notes to editors:

1 The 1999 MAKE survey, conducted by Teleos in association with The KNOW NetworkSM, was sent primarily to top executives at global 500 companies. The survey asked each executive to nominate as many as three "most admired" companies and then rate these organisations based on the eight knowledge-performance attributes listed below:

* Success in establishing an enterprise knowledge culture
* Top management support for managing knowledge
* Ability to develop and deliver knowledge-based goods and services
* Success in maximising the value of the enterprise's intellectual
* Effectiveness in creating an environment of knowledge sharing
* Success in establishing a culture of continuous learning
* Effectiveness of management customer knowledge to increase loyalty
and value
* Ability to manage knowledge to generate shareholder value

The Most Admired Enterprises (MAKE) study is administered by Teleos, an independent knowledge management research company. The KNOW Network ( is a group of leading knowledge-based organisations dedicated to sharing best knowledge practices that lead to superior business performance. An executive summary of the 1999 MAKE study can be requested by sending email to [email protected]. A similar study was carried out in 1998.

In this month's edition of Document Management Update:

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UNLOCKING THE VALUE OF KNOWLEDGE. Knowledge management as a concept has received much attention of late, but that does not alter the fact that many businesses are not realising the benefits of exploiting the knowledge available to them. However, in the current turbulent business climate, few companies can afford to let this valuable resources remain untapped. more>>

Information overreach - With 2.8 million public websites and approximately 800 million web pages (and counting), the challenge of finding the right business information quickly and easily is difficult, at best. more>>
Putting Knowledge to Work. Knowledge management has spawned a lot of theoretical discussion, but how do you put it to work to achieve – and quantify – real benefits for businesses? Peter Turnbull, SER’s UK head of marketing, goes back to Shakespeare to bring to life working solutions for companies today. more>>
Knowledge is power, as the saying goes. Ernst & Young understands this better than most - the firm has one of the largest knowledge infrastructures in the world and is the only professional services firm to have been recognized as one of the world's top five "Most Admired Knowledge Enterprises" in each of the last two years. more>>
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feature. more>>





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