If knowledge is power, it’s not surprising someone realized the value in packaging it as a product. For professional service companies, Knowledge as a Service (or KaaS) is becoming a critical concept that can drive up revenues and keep firms competitive. In a world where disruptors are either causing failures or forcing fast innovations across all industries, KaaS gives service firms a new foothold. It lets them embrace change and continue to experience success.
The value of knowledge and knowledge management
Knowledge, and the management of it, is big business. Firms that aren’t investing in knowledge and finding ways to turn it into a product or service are going to become increasingly less competitive on the global and national markets in the coming years.
Knowledge management systems are the infrastructure that lets enterprises package, transmit, and manage their knowledge, standard operating procedures, and other information. These systems had a 34% share of the global knowledge management market in 2017. It’s a market that experts predict will grow from around $206,900 million in 2016 to $1,232,000 million in 2025.
In short, this is not a market that firms and enterprises can afford to ignore.
The expected growth of the professional services market
Growth in the value of knowledge is likely partially at play in the expected growth of the professional services market, which is already fairly large. In the United States, it accounts for 40% of the overall market and includes niches such as legal, accounting, research, design, and promotional services. Professional services overall are expected to grow by 5.4% from 2016 through 2020. That growth will bring it to a total value of $5 trillion dollars.
Accounting is the highest growing segment in the professional services market, with a growth rate of almost 6% from 2012 through 2016 and an expected growth rate of more than six percent from 2016 through 2020.
KaaS and the professional services market
This environment has created an intersection where KaaS and professional services can come together in powerful ways.
Historically, knowledge traded in the professional services industry in a much more one-on-one manner. Someone who hired an accountant, lawyer, engineer, or marketing consultant for their professional service and knowledge would engage that person’s time and efforts specifically. Obviously, this is still the case in some instances. A lawyer is still going to prepare briefings and go to court on his or her client’s behalf, but KaaS gives the professional service firm additional ways to serve (and generate revenue). It also provides the clientele with more options for getting what they need.
Consider this example: Lawyers who practice in the estate-planning niche can meet with every single potential client and individually draft wills, durable powers of attorney, and other documents. However, in reality, many of these documents are going to be very similar, and an attorney may not be needed specifically to create, for example, a healthcare proxy for every client. State rules and regulations keep these forms pretty standard, so attorneys are turning to KaaS as an option and offering packages with forms and instructions that include everything the client needs to get the job done on their own.
The benefits of KaaS models in this context are many:
- The service provider can reserve his or her time for truly complex matters that need one-on-one attention.
- The customer can get the benefit of professional knowledge without the cost of direct professional service.
- The service provider can generate revenue via new sources.
Other examples of KaaS in the professional services sector include:
- Marketing firms or other consulting companies packaging data into deliverables that include analytical tools so clients can make data-backed decisions in their niches
- Engineering companies packaging data acquired from building sensors, along with analytic or reporting structures, in cloud-based tools
- Tax brands creating self-serve software that allows individuals to complete taxes themselves while being supported by the built-in knowledge of professionals
- HR brands that package recruitment data or provide automated resources that help others find the right candidates
KaaS in the face of disruptors
KaaS isn’t a new innovation. Professionals in all types of niches have been peddling knowledge for centuries. But the delivery methods and ways professional service firms consider KaaS are evolving, and that’s due in part to the growth of digital disruptors.
Disruptors, as a rule, can be bad news for traditional providers. They give consumers a different way to engage with services or let them access information that previously was behind a paywall or cost more than it does with the disruptor in play. But this isn’t always the case in the professional services industry because firms are embracing these changes. What’s good for the consumer can also be good for the brand, and digital technology is letting professional service providers deliver service and knowledge through on-demand digital channels.
The growing demand for dynamic, subscription-based, or digital delivery of knowledge creates a market for something professional service firms can provide. That, in turn, creates a new product those firms can profit from, allowing them to grow and evolve.
It’s a double-edged sword, though. Brands must be aware that when knowledge or services are digital, consumers may find it easier to shift between providers. Firms must continue differentiating themselves with excellent customer service and authoritative content and services.
Benefits of scale: KaaS and automation
Another enormous benefit of KaaS occurs when firms are able to pair it with automation. Machine learning makes it possible for providers to deliver services in the form of chatbots and other AI, providing knowledge services to more clients without expanding in-house resources. Consider TurboTax as an example; Intuit leverages knowledge (packaged as a downloadable software package), basic AI that can scan tax returns for problems and suggest solutions, and automations, including chatbots for answering specific questions, to provide self-serve tax services to individuals and businesses across the country, all without a team of thousands of CPAs that would be needed to prepare those same returns manually.
The takeaway here isn’t that automation is going to replace humans in the KaaS field. It’s that automation can take on certain time-consuming tasks so human experts can concentrate on others, allowing firms to provide value to more clients in the same amount of time and potentially at a lower price point without impacting their own bottom line.
By enabling fast and specific support for customers, bots can increase customer satisfaction and loyalty, boosting productivity and revenue. Learn “How Bots Can Generate Value For Enterprises.”