Lukas Zajancauskas | Why knowledge management matters

Lukas Zajancauskas, director of strategy and business development for Content Arena, says sports organisations are beginning to move away from a 'Fort-Knox' mentality to sharing and organising data internally

Knowledge management might not sound that important to some, but did you know that poor knowledge-sharing practices cost Fortune 500 companies an estimated $31.5bn (€25.9bn) annually?

The business of sport has traditionally been one of the worst culprits, having what could be described as a ‘Fort Knox’ mentality regarding data, and a fairly old-school view on business technology, but mercifully the importance of knowledge management appears to be beginning to register with sports organisations.

Perhaps this is linked to companies needing to reshuffle resources – some out of necessity because of Covid-19, some for the sake of innovation – or maybe it is linked with the overall growth in complexity of the sports media market, enabling rights-holders to do more deals but also requiring them to be as sophisticated as possible. But in my past six months of having conversations with various rights-holders, knowledge management (or information sharing) is something that comes up in almost every dialogue. There has already been a shift in mindsets of the leaders in this industry, and it is certainly not limited to the biggest players.

Why bother with good knowledge management practices?

While there can be many direct and indirect benefits of good knowledge management practices in organisations (such as the culture of sharing increases employee satisfaction), from my experience I can point to two fairly simple yet key advantages that come with implementing a better information management system. In short, quick access to accurate information allows people to do their jobs the best they can, and it protects intellectual capital.

Research suggests that employers spend 30 per cent of their time looking for or recreating information that already exists. Simply put, when information isn’t captured, shared or accessible – employees waste time recreating solutions or documents, making mistakes that may have already been made before, and answering the same queries over and over again.

Some familiar examples from the sports industry may include lost revenue opportunities, when not having the right information at hand while speaking to a potential client; not getting the right insight in order to prepare and maximise a rights value in a particular market; or day-to-day tasks like a broadcaster’s request regarding rights availability, a weekly content plan to be sent to a satellite provider, or an internal summary of deals to be provided to a new managing director.

Using simple digital solutions, this knowledge can now be easily centralised, while the aforementioned tasks can be automated – but are still often not. Not only would this increase the accuracy and speed to which such internal processes can be done, it also simply frees up time, which sports executives can use for more value-adding activities. It’s a win-win for both the organisation and the employee.

So, when people leave, where does the knowledge go? According to US research, 53 per cent of C-level executives said the knowledge-related costs of losing key employees falls somewhere between $50,000 and $299,000 per employee, with some even putting the cost above this figure. This is particularly true in sports, where all commercial knowledge (both implicit and explicit) often lies with the long-serving executives. While this may be somewhat useful for the employee, it is certainly not a good organisational practice. Having a digital management system helps to mitigate this risk and increases control over intellectual capital.

Implementing better knowledge management can be as much of a working culture change as it is a technological- or process-oriented one. As such, a few things are key – first, that the value of knowledge sharing is understood by all teams in the organisation; second, that people embrace technology as a vehicle for effective knowledge sharing.

Overall, even small steps towards better knowledge management can significantly increase the efficiency of decision making at all levels, free up resources for value-adding activities and, somewhat contrary to the popular view, actually improve data protection.