From the errors of others, a wise man corrects his own.  ~Syrus

My email account has gigabytes of data and some of the most important information of daily dealings. Communication history, attachments, context for conversations. It’s all siloed, safe and sound, unusable by anyone else.

Like the internet, I use search to find emails. In both cases, the query parses unstructured data to find the answer. But, email is private and unusable to anyone else on my team, locked in a inbox.

Working in a team or at a company of a certain size, an employee is privy to institutional knowledge, the learnings of a business and its people. How many people work at McKinsey or Goldman, Google or Facebook for a few years to learn the way these companies do business, to inculcate the processes and tool sets  that have buttressed their success and to use them elsewhere (to eventually start a company)?

Building institutional knowledge is hard. It requires work now for reward in a year or more. But the returns compound with time.

At Redpoint, we began using Salesforce about two years ago. At the outset, the database was sparse and inaccurate. As we have begun to fill the database with email exchanges, due diligence and contacts we have seen three benefits:

  1. Everyone is on the same page in understanding where deals are in the funnel
  2. Our outward communication is coordinated
  3. Should someone leave, we have continuity. The new guy can just pick up where the previous one left off.

By pulling the data from our inboxes and into a shared resource, we’re building a library institutional knowledge. It’s an effort we encourage in our companies.

Many times acquirers seek new forms of institutional knowledge to complement their core competencies. Codifying this knowledge transforms it into a strategic asset.

On PCs, the Salesforce toolbar offers a 1 click import email to Salesforce. For Macs, there’s a nifty third party app called MailDrop that will do the same. These workflow simplifying tools increase participation and data quality.