In reading these two cases I found that both of them seemed similar in many ways. Both Frito-Lay and Step Two approached the task at hand the same way. They identified the problem and then found a suitable solution. The problem was the same, both needed to organize their information and data in a common point so that everyone had access to it. Both had a need for information sharing. So their concept of knowledge management was the same, create a central point for the information to be shared. When looking at the problems that both companies faced we see some similarities and some contrasting points.
First of all Frito-Lay faced a problem of needing to be able to access lots of information that was always changing and evolving. The same information such as research and market analysis on shopping behaviors was being requested by multiple salespersons. This required the head office to duplicate work over and over again. They needed a central place where the information could be kept and accessed by whomever needed it. RTA in contrast had valuable information that didn’t change and wasn’t evolving. It was information that very rarely would change.
RTA had a lot of information that was kept in the heads of senior people that needed to be put out there so everyone could benefit from it. But just like Frito-Lay it needed to be centrally located so that everyone could have access to the information and have it readily available. As I take a look at the solutions that both companies came up with I think there are a lot more similarities than differences. Both companies appointed one individual to drive the creation train. The two companies did an excellent job of creating the team.
The best move that they made was bringing in people who were experts or the best at their jobs and held the majority of the information that they needed to consolidate. RTA and Step Two brought in subject matter experts from the call centre that had over 10 yrs of experience and knew the workings and the requirements needed to have a good working product. Frito-Lay assembled a group of marketing folks who were spread out and would give them the broad scope of information that was going to be needed by multiple sales teams.
Bringing the experts into the mix is the key to a workable product. In contrast, Frito-Lay relied on their in-house IT department to create the product where as RTA hired an outside agency, Step Two, to create the product that was going to be used. Being a communications officer in the Air Force I have been on several teams building and testing products that will be used by multiple types and thousands of users. It is a daunting and time consuming job. But I think that both of these examples did a fine job of getting to a final product.
I would believe that both of these products were great successes. I think that they did indeed solve the problems that the companies were having. First of all, Frito-Lay now has a central point for the head office to download products for the sales teams. By doing this it allowed the head office folks to focus on making the company more profitable by creating newer and more in depth products to provide to the teams instead of having to recreate the same products over and over again for multiple teams.
This is profitable to Frito-Lay because it allows them to get more productivity for the same price of doing business as before. If this product wasn’t a success I don’t believe that Pepsico would be making an initiative to use this product across all of their divisions. In terms of RTA, I think this product is good in solving their initial problems. The product created by Step Two will allow the call centre to consolidate their information and allow for lower training costs.
Instead of having someone there to show the new folks where each and every bit of information is, the new folks can now do searches and find the information on their own. You no longer have to have multiple copies of the same information. This cuts down on your overhead. . This allows for senior and more experienced people to focus on running the centre and the day to day business. Changes to the manuals can be done easily with the ease of a couple key strokes.