The End of Average

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“In all affairs it’s a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted. “ -Bertrand Russell

We are living in an “Age of Average” when it comes to Knowledge

Watching a Ted Talk by Harvard Professor Todd Rose on the “Myth of Average” got me thinking about knowledge in the support industry and how historically content and information sharing have taken a “just good enough” posture. It seems backwards to spend hundreds of hours on creating, differentiating, and advancing our technology platforms that then get supported with one-size-fits-all knowledge processes and solutions. Does designing knowledge for the masses end up helping no one?

Professor Rose discusses how in designing for average we end up creating solutions that no one can use, because frankly, none of us are average. Individuals use and comprehend technology in a myriad of ways and at ANSWR we believe that our technology support teams need unique solutions that help them find, share, and create knowledge that embraces the individual.

At ANSWR we say – Ban the Average!

Seriously, no one likes to be called average…or, frankly, get average service. Yet, for some reason we seem to be okay living in the “Age of Average” when it comes to finding and sharing knowledge. So if today’s knowledgebases are average, i.e., doing just enough, just the basics, we are missing an opportunity to, (as Todd Rose points out) innovate for the edges, or embrace the individual and make their support experience exceptional, not average.

Join the Knowledge Revolution! Bespoke Knowledge?

At ANSWR we think that average knowledge is well…to put it bluntly, blah. In today’s world we look to individualize everything – “bespoke our lives” as it were. From how we dress, to how we travel, even the tools, or vacations we take. We demand individualization and personalization when it comes to all aspects of our lives; so why do we accept different standards when it comes to how we search, share and create knowledge? The ANSWR platform was specifically designed to allow teams to create individual collections of knowledge that make sense to them and how they best support their customers. ANSWR lets you treat your customers as individuals, retrieving content that makes sense for their technology challenges in real time with solution sharing between support teams. You can personalize the content you use, the searches you execute, and the steps you take so they make sense for the issue you are solving. If we can bespoke our suits, our bikes, or even our investment portfolios, why can’t we bespoke our knowledge base?

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Learn more about how ANSWR can help you curate smarter and share better with your team.

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The End of Average

Eating Our Own Dog Food

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The development team at ANSWR is a small group still – we all sit in one room at our offices in downtown Boston. On any given day we can be overheard working through requirements, debating the value of new features, helping each other solve problems and answering each other’s questions about why certain code works the way it does during code reviews. Of course, that’s when we’re not arguing over where to find the best burritos (Villa Mexico) or coffee (Gracenote) near South Station.

A few months ago, throughout all of those conversations and the many hours of collaboration – whether in person or over HipChat – we started to see a pattern of the same or similar questions reappearing multiple times. Problems that one developer had solved weren’t getting filtered efficiently to other developers, questions were just getting asked to and answered by the same person who had figured it out the first time, over and over again. It was becoming an anchor on the productivity of the whole team and wasting hours per week that as small group, we didn’t have the luxury of.

The thing was that each of us had all spent a shitload of time using our own software – we installed it, uninstalled it, ran searches, tagged and annotated thousands of pieces of content during development but we never, as a team, USED our software as we expected other teams to. We were so focused on building the best product possible for our customers that we lost sight of why we started ANSWR in the first place: to make knowledge creation, sharing and recall easier for all types of teams.

That’s when we decided to eat our own dog food, for real – and it really worked.

We cleared out the old test data, set up a fresh new team, added all of the developers to it and started using our Chrome extension to tag “real” content that the team was finding helpful, wanted to share with others or just remember for themselves. Over the past few months, we’ve curated hundreds of pieces of useful content found during Google search sessions and teased out of Confluence on wide ranging topics as diverse as debugging memory leaks in Ruby applications to writing obscure SQL aggregations for Redshift to cleaning the dust of out our laptops.

All of this newly curated content is being shared by the team every day though our HipChat Bot and at the top of our Google searches and we’re now seeing real benefits.

We’ve seen a remarkable uptick to the teams productivity by shaving off those repetitive search hours we were previously wasting – freeing us up to push through our debt and feature backlogs more efficiently.

We’re also collaborating better and more transparently because we are sharing more and more frequently about what everyone is working on and searching for.

And the best result of eating our own dog food (and why you should too) has been discovering new features that, as users, we want to see on the platform that we may not have thought about or prioritized as highly before. Hashtag searches from the Chrome omnibox anyone?

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Learn more about how ANSWR can help you curate smarter and share better with your team.

Keep up with us on Twitter and LinkedIn.

 

Eating Our Own Dog Food

ANSWR For Teams

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We’re proud to announce the public availability of ANSWR for teams beta!

We all spend a lot of time using Google to research technology solutions, search for code snippets and sift through the recommendations that we find. Even the simple searches for syntax or setup steps can often cause us to waste more time yak shaving than we intended. We know the answer is out there and someone on the team probably has already looked for it, we just don’t know who or where they found it. So I search and you search and we all search.

And it sucks.

Until ANSWR. And now it’s free for small teams!

Here’s how:

  1. Add the ANSWR extension to Chrome and upload any or all of your useful bookmarks
  2. Then with only one click, use ANSWR to bookmark, hashtag and annotate answers, sites and pages.
  3. ANSWR instantly makes these finds available to you and your team and puts them in the place you already are – at the top of the Google search results.

There is so much more to the platform but those are basics that make ANSWR so valuable and easy to use.

At ANSWR we eat our own dogfood and it has made our whole team faster & has made everyone smarter by turning search into a team based knowledge sharing tool. That said, we’re still a small team and would love to help other teams get faster while learning from your expertise and feedback.

Get started, it’s easy:

  • Download ANSWR now and use it for yourself and with your team
  • Share it with your friends who you think could benefit
  • Please let us know what you like and what you don’t or what features you’d like to see next – feedback@answr.com
  • Learn about new features here – Like Firefox support or HipChat and Slack integrations of your knowledge (coming soon!)

So jump on the beta. It helps our team every day and I believe it will really help you.

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Learn more about how ANSWR can help you curate smarter and share better with your team.

Keep up with us on Twitter and LinkedIn.

ANSWR For Teams