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Consortium for Service Innovation

Terminology and Scope


Vocabulary is important, and it is a challenge as different organizations and industries use different terminology for similar things. For example, in tech support there are numerous terms used for the support event including incident, case, trouble ticket, call, or service request. In this guide we will use the term “incident.”  We will use "knowledge worker" as the generic term for people involved in resolving issues and problem solving activities. In tech support the knowledge worker is often the Support Analyst: the folks in the support organization who solve customer issues. These people are also sometimes called support agents, support engineers, or customer support reps (CSR).

This guide uses the same terms as those found in the KCS v6 Practices Guide glossary. A few bear repeating: 

  • Knowledge worker - Anyone who does intellectual or cognitive work (as opposed to physical work). People who use data and information to make judgments and decisions and/or take action. Knowledge workers can play the role of responder or requestor.
  • Domain - A loosely defined collection of knowledge.  For example, a domain would be the collection of knowledge about:
    • A business process or policy
    • A product or family of products
    • A service or a professional service offering
  • Requestor - A customer or knowledge worker seeking information or resolution to an issue.
  • Responder - A knowledge worker providing a resolution to an issue or assisting in the development of a resolution to an issue.
  • Interaction network - Anyone involved in requesting or responding.
  • Customer - We use the term customer in the broadest context of any customer-supplier relationship, or requestor-responder relationship. Customers may be internal or external to the company or institution. An employee requesting information from HR or Legal is a customer, a student requesting information from the admissions department of a university is a customer.
  • System of record - The system used to track interactions. In tech support, this is the case/incident management system. In environments that do not use a case/incident management system to track requests, there are often a number of systems used to track work and the associated interactions (instant messenger, task or project management software, etc.). 

KCS Scope

Knowledge-Centered Service (KCS) is a robust set of principles, practices, and techniques for creating, maintaining, and leveraging knowledge in an interactive environment. While KCS started out as one important element of an organization’s overall knowledge management strategy, KCS has evolved to become the knowledge management strategy for the whole organization. KCS seeks to reuse, improve, and - if it doesn't exist - create knowledge as a by-product of interaction. Just as the Agile development methodology has replaced the waterfall model in development organizations, KCS is replacing the waterfall model of content or documentation development. KCS is "agile knowledge management." 

The KCS methodology is based on 25 years of academic research, experiences, and investment by the Members of the Consortium for Service Innovation.  

Knowledge is information upon which people can act. Knowledge is intangible. It can not be counted or measured in discreet terms, and it can not be measured at the point of creation or capture. Knowledge is measured at the point of value realization; it is measured by the value it creates for the audience it serves. Knowledge includes content and context.

KCS is based on the following characteristics of knowledge:

  • It is gained through experience and interaction
  • It is never perfect or 100% complete
  • It is constantly evolving because we never stop learning
  • Our confidence in what we know is gained through use, experience, and interaction

Knowledge is not pristine, perfect, or static; it is actually dynamic and quite messy. KCS allows us to capitalize on the collective experience of the organization and manage the risks associated with the dynamics of knowledge. This is what makes KCS so different from other traditional knowledge management (KM) or knowledge engineering practices. The traditional models are "knowledge from a few" for the use of many. KCS is knowledge from many for the use of many. 

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