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Digital Knowledge Manager: 5 Skills You Need to Succeed at the the Newest Marketing Role

DKMs use all the data a company has to determine what data it needs to solve problems and drive strategy.
Digital Knowledge Manager: 5 Skills You Need to Succeed at the the Newest Marketing Role
Image credit: Hero Images | Getty Images

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The advent of today’s new intelligent services (Google Assistant/Home, Cortana, Siri and others) has created an accelerated curve. Google, Bing, Apple, Yahoo, Amazon and other increasingly intelligent services are driving a good deal of change, with more expected in the future.

This evolution needn't be scary for search-engine optimization (SEO) managers, brand managers, social media managers or chief marketing officers. It’s actually an exciting opportunity that creates career options for those willing to take on new responsibilities.

In fact, today’s world of structured data needs professionals to provide context for maps, info cards and specific answers. Customers and companies alike increasingly demand the most accurate data from the most authoritative sources. After all, how can an intelligent service be intelligent if it’s wrong?

Related: Knowledge Isn't Power When it Causes Confusion

Companies are responding with a new role: Digital Knowledge Manager. Think of “manager” here as an action, not a title. Real-life examples include Sam Dresser, the Vice President of Knowledge Management and Engagement at School of Rock. Glenn May's position at T-Mobile is called Senior Category Manager - Local Marketing.  Other businesses actively are seeking to create similar positions. In a broad sense, these new roles focus on five skills: investigation, negotiation, communication, thought leadership and building.

Skill 1: Investigation.

A Digital Knowledge Manager, or DKM, is first and foremost someone who can track down all the authoritative sources of knowledge about your brand, people, products, events and locations from within your organization. This could be an easy job at a small company. But it could become a huge undertaking for large corporations. It likely would require conversations with departments such as Marketing, IT, Legal, Facilities, Store Operations and others. It's no small feat to identify and find all the public facts about your business that you want in customers' hands.

A good DKM doesn’t simply settle for data the organization says it has. Instead, the DKM investigates what consumers are demanding and then works to source the data within the organization. For instance, Google reports that 70 percent of hotel searches now include a specific type of amenity. A DKM digs into the specifics. What amenities -- or granular details -- do consumers seeking about your people, products, events and locations today? What will they be tomorrow? An investigative DKM is critically important in this stage.

Skill 2: Negotiation.

Because a DKM must work with many teams, he or she also needs to help arbitrate conflicts among data sources and people within the organization. Digital Knowledge Management is about boiling all of your data down to clear sources of truth. And to do that, conflicts must be resolved in ways that promote accuracy, stability, and efficiency.

Some clients come to us at Yext with multiple data sources across a wide variety of materials -- from their Content Management System (CMS) to basic spreadsheets. These clients all need someone to identify, vet and shepherd that data to best effect. 

Let’s look at this in context. Think about the internal teams and even franchisees that own the data for McDonald’s: locations, menus, nutritional information and more. To deliver this structured data via today’s intelligent services, the DKM must negotiate the twists and turns of internal and franchise politics to ensure the consumer sees one brand, hears one voice and can rely on one accurate data set to answer their needs in the moments that matter.

Related: Why Effective Internal Communication Is Critical to an Organization's Well-Being

Skill 3: Communication.

As technology evolves, so does a brand's responsibilities and opportunities related to digital knowledge. 

For instance, the DKM should be the first in an organization to know about new intelligent-services features that will require a robust set of digital knowledge. Uber provides one example. At major air hubs such as Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas and San Francisco, Uber customers can select multiple, specific pick-up/drop-off points within the larger location. It’s the DKM’s role to spot the opportunity and communicate it to appropriate teams. This is how companies source information and fully leverage that data to provide customer value. Uber recognized an opportunity and capitalized on that gap.

Related: 3 Tools to Encourage Knowledge Sharing at Your Company

Skill 4: Thought leadership.

A DKM always must keep one eye on the future to monitor how intelligent services are evolving. A true professional will spot what's new and develop a plan of action. He or she will ask questions: What does this mean for our company? Our customers? How does technology change our consumers' behaviors? 

Related: 5 Tips to Boost Your Website's Knowledge Bases

Believe it or not, one of Lego's partners has created a bot on the Alexa skills store. Brickbot will allow any Echo user to ask questions and get detailed answers about new and old Lego sets, themes and other products. With 20 percent of Google searches already run via voice command, it's smart to be thinking how to prepare all that digital knowledge to interface with voice search. 

(Image source: Think With Google)

Skill 5: Building.

Ultimately, the Digital Knowledge Manager must structure the people, processes, and technologies that will ensure the accurate and timely creation, distribution and ongoing maintenance of a company’s digital knowledge base.

While platforms such as ours can help with technology, the people and processes pieces rest with individual clients. Done right, digital knowledge becomes a competitive brand differentiator. It can help attract more customers through an ever-increasing array of intelligent services.

Bringing all 5 skills together.

It doesn’t take superhero strength to be a DKM. In fact, the core skills look similar to those needed in many positions. But the DKM role is bigger. It has a broader impact on a company, works across more teams and focuses on goals beyond simply attracting searchers or social-media shares.

The DKM protects a company by making certain its digital knowledge is developed and deployed in the best ways possible -- both internally and externally -- to serve the business. Within an organization, the positioning of such a role may be more or less senior, with tasks, goals and responsibilities aligned as such. Here's a mocked-up job description that helps define the DKM's scope.

This substantial shift is really a change of focus, mindset and investment. Leaders who realize they're closer to this outcome than they'd believed have the potential to become DKMs and own their space in the market.