Schlumberger has again been recognized in the annual Most Admired Knowledge Enterprises (MAKE) study, an international benchmark of best practices among knowledge organizations. This is the fourth time Schlumberger has appeared on the global top-20 list since the study’s inception 12 years ago, ranking 18th overall for 2009.
The Global MAKE study is sponsored by Teleos, an independent knowledge management and intellectual capital research company. This year’s winners were chosen by a panel of Global Fortune 500 senior executives and internationally recognized knowledge management and intellectual capital experts.
According to Susan Rosenbaum, director of Knowledge Management, the founding Schlumberger brothers sowed the seeds of a knowledge culture back in the 1930s when they instituted a technical bulletin for the company’s pioneering engineers. “That mindset has flourished,” says Rosenbaum. “Knowledge is respected as an important asset at Schlumberger. We’ve had technological solutions internally to capture knowledge since before the term ‘knowledge management’ entered the popular business lexicon. But, while such systems are essential, the key is in how we make use of these tools. It’s the sustained interaction between our people that makes the difference.”
Rosenbaum points to the company’s proprietary InTouch system, launched in 1998, as a particular force for knowledge capture and sharing at Schlumberger that has a direct impact on our customers’ experience.
The InTouch database, which contains more than one million knowledge items and receives 8 million views per year, is typically the first recourse for field engineers experiencing a persistent technical problem. It also comprises a team of 125 dedicated InTouch engineers available to help solve field issues one-on-one. These specialists, who “sleep with beepers and cell phones,” have at least five years of field experience and are drawn from all of the company’s product and domain segments. Their location within the company’s research and technology centers gives them immediate access to the scientists and engineers involved in developing the products and services in the first place.
Schlumberger also supports 284 internal Eureka technical bulletin boards, many of which log 20 or more discussion threads per week. “You have field and InTouch engineers interacting through the InTouch system,” says Rosenbaum. “But you also have field engineers helping other field engineers on the bulletin boards. InTouch engineers routinely scan these discussion threads to glean information and spot experienced contacts.”
Increasingly, the flow of knowledge is cyclical, making it more robust than ever. “Field engineers can flag content on the InTouch database that they feel is outdated, to ensure it gets checked,” says Rosenbaum. “We’re using the power of the people to keep our information up to date.”
InTouch engineers also use the company’s extensive employee search capabilities to identify people according to location, technical domain, level of expertise, and job type. This enables them to push pertinent information to a selected audience. If a piece of hardware needs a modification, for example, everyone who may be affected by the change can be made aware of it.
Since inception, the InTouch system has improved response time by 95% for resolving technical queries, and by 75% for deploying engineering modifications globally. These reductions translate directly into improved operational performance and service to Schlumberger’s customers.
“We have a giant web of people helping people at Schlumberger,” says Rosenbaum. “It’s become an entrenched part of the company culture.”
Visit the MAKE Award site for more information.