Enhancing Information Retrieval Capabilities of Knowledge Management Systems

Enhancing Information Retrieval Capabilities of Knowledge Management Systems

Dinesh Rathi (University of Alberta, Canada), Shannon Lucky (University of Alberta, Canada) and Ali Shiri (University of Alberta, Canada)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-0948-8.ch018
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Abstract

User support services face complex problems in the efficient and satisfactory delivery of services to users. Knowledge management (KM) principles can be effectively implemented within this organizational context to support efficient and effective problem solving to improve service delivery to the users. A KM system with good information retrieval capabilities is critical in empowering front line employees to utilize organizational knowledge repositories for better service delivery. The purpose of this chapter is to present different aspects of the major information retrieval techniques that can be used in a user services environment and to propose new models to enhance retrieval capabilities of KM systems. The authors discuss the basic elements that make up an information retrieval system including metadata, controlled, and uncontrolled vocabularies. The authors also propose three experimental search interfaces for enhancing information retrieval capabilities of a KM system. The first uses a thesaurus for enhanced retrieval features through better query formulation and browsing of search results; the second uses the tag cloud concept to present thesaurus terms; and the third combines the structure of a controlled vocabulary with the flexibility of a folksonomy and tag cloud, thus incorporating the beneficial aspects of both uncontrolled and controlled vocabularies to support retrieval within a heterogeneous corporate environment.
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An Overview Of User Services

Providing appropriate service to customers or users (the terms are used interchangeably in this chapter) is an important component of any business and the majority of organizations strive to provide excellent service to their customers. The role of the user services or help desk (the terms will be used interchangeable in this chapter) is to provide support and help to users by providing information about the operation of products as well as resolving problems encountered by the user (Göker & Roth-Berghofer, 1999) in the continuous operations of the product (i.e., providing support for problem resolution). Marcella and Middleton (1996) define the help desk as “an accessible service point” (p. 4) that gives solutions on request to solve users’ or help seekers’ problems. Support services can be broadly classified into two types: internal support systems (i.e., providing support to the users within an organization) and external support systems (i.e., providing support to external customers) (Gonzalez, et al., 2005) depending upon the type of customer they support. There are a number of channels (e.g., telephone based support services, email-based help desk system, etc.) called “touch points” for the customer to interact with service providers (Anton, 2000) and seek help from experts to solve their problems. The telephone-based support system has been the dominant method of communication in the past, but with the advent of the Internet and development of email-based technology, email-based help support systems are of growing importance (Nenkova & Bagga, 2003).

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