Remember the office Xerox machine that seemed to constantly need repair? Or sat broken for days, waiting for a technician to arrive and service it? Those wait times have dwindled thanks, at least in part, to Xerox’s knowledge management platform, Eureka. The platform was a breakthrough when it launched in the early 1990s, allowing technicians to share tips for solving tricky or uncommon equipment problems via laptops in the field.

But much has changed since the early days of field service mobility, and now the 20-year-old Eureka platform continues to be relied on across the smaller, faster mobile devices today’s Xerox technicians carry.

The Origins of a Novel Idea

Xerox’s Eureka represents an early example of a knowledge management system’s ability to improve field service efficiency — and to prove the value of an information repository accessible in the field. Effective knowledge management platforms are the result of several factors, including:

Done well, knowledge management boosts productivity by providing the exact steps for resolution and eliminating the need to research a problem when it re-occurs. Faster first-time fix rates, for example, are often the result of knowledge bases that offer field technicians a way to capitalize on the experiences of other technicians.

Throughout its existence, Eureka has certainly met that criteria. The tool was first deployed in North America in 1996 and is now available globally to Xerox’s technicians through the Xerox database and web platform. Xerox estimates that since its implementation, Eureka has saved the company more than $100 million in service costs.

Keeping Eureka Relevant with Increased Mobility

Working with current mobile handsets and tablets, Xerox’s customer service engineers can document and clear service calls, search for parts, retrieve optimized routing and perform other tasks. Used in tandem with mobile devices, the Eureka tool provides a searchable database for quick problem-specific results at the point of need.

Though mobility may be constantly evolving, one of Eureka’s biggest benefits remains unchanged: It offers help with issues for which no standard solution seems to apply. One crucial factor in establishing trust for Eureka’s information was having expert technicians vet all tips submitted to the community knowledge base.

Updates and details regarding product fixes have since been included from all over the globe, translated into English, and made accessible to every technician’s device. Used in combination with the mobile platform and the overall Xerox KM system, Eureka’s knowledge management system enables technicians to know immediately how to resolve issues on 80 percent of calls.

The next step in the evolution of knowledge management will be the incorporation of videos and sound files to help techs solve problems quickly the first time.

Eureka’s longevity proves that an effective knowledge management platform never grows old. But to be effective, companies must ensure their technicians can share and access information and the latest mobile tools in use in the field.

ABOUT Kerry Doyle

Avatar photoKerry Doyle is an analyst and writer who has covered business and technology issues for over a decade, first as a technician at the fabled PCWeek Labs and a reporter for PCWeek magazine, then as senior editor at He has contributed articles and content to organizations as diverse as IDG/ComputerWorld, GigaOm Research, Monitor Group, Harvard Business School, and Global Knowledge. He provides cogent analyses of the newest trends in technology, from nanotech to the cloud, with a focus on issues relevant to leaders in field service.