Customer Success Story SBB

Achieved Results

  • Preservation of company’s internal knowledge and wisdom
  • Access to a wealth of knowledge
  • Facilitates self-directed learning
  • Efficient knowledge transfer for all employees
  • Quicker onboarding

Our corporate knowledge is a valuable asset that we want to preserve before it’s lost. getAbstract’s Custom Summary Service plays a key role in this process.

Simon Berger, Program Director Railway Know-how at SBB

About SBB

Swiss Federal Railways (German: Schweizerische Bundesbahnen AG, SBB) stands for service quality, punctuality and reliability. SBB operates passenger and freight transport, infrastructure and real estate.

Business challenge

Many employees have been working for SBB for several decades. To ensure that valuable knowledge can be passed on to new employees, SBB launched the “Railway Know-how” initiative. Its goal is to identify undocumented knowledge and make it accessible on a company-wide basis. SBB found that getAbstract – with its Custom Summary Service – is the ideal partner to create short, easy-to-read, and to-the-point texts from the wealth and diversity of material it houses. Simon Berger explains: “Many of our employees who will soon retire have acquired invaluable contextual knowledge over many years. They have experienced the company in a completely different way than those who are joining us today. Everyone can learn a great deal from them. This motivated us to launch a knowledge retention initiative.”

How getAbstract helped

How can organizations secure valuable corporate knowledge and make it accessible to their workforce?

In a first step, companies can capture knowledge through interviews. It’s often only through this process that the extent of the wealth of knowledge and the contributions of employees to the company’s success become apparent. However, the next step is equally important: The knowledge must be put into a form in which it can be passed on to other employees. This is where many companies fail. They use artificial intelligence, for example, to capture existing internal knowledge, concentrate it in one place and make it searchable. However, they miss the most important step: making this treasure trove of knowledge usable so that it can be transferred and absorbed effectively. “And that’s where getAbstract came in for us with their Custom Summary Service,” Berger explains. “Its expertise in simple writing and in getting to the point is the key we were missing. There is nothing harder than saying something complex in a simple way. If we can do that, then we can share our knowledge. With getAbstract at our side, we succeed – and the collaboration is a great enrichment for everyone involved.”

The need to secure contextual knowledge is at the heart of the initiative. One central question is: What knowledge do employees require to still be able to act when a system gets out of control? For example, a train driver who is responsible for the safety of hundreds of passengers must know how to act in an emergency. The train driver must be able to assess the consequences of her or his actions. To do this, she or he needs a certain basic knowledge. “As a result of advances in digitalization and automation, the roles in which humans are still active are changing,” Berger knows. “And with each automation step, skills that people used to master are lost. It’s like a language that you don’t use: Over time, you’ll lose it.”

Companies should ask themselves: In which areas does the knowledge of their employees constitute the differentiating factor? And how much is maintaining this stock of knowledge worth to them? Berger is convinced: “Competent companies are successful because they have competent employees. In the end, it all comes down to how a company views their employees. In cooperation with getAbstract’s Custom Summary Service, we strengthen the competence of our employees, because getAbstract understands what people need to effectively absorb knowledge and act on it.”

When it comes to onboarding new employees, the initiative’s success is perhaps most evident. Berger adds: “With thousands of people joining us every year to start a job at SBB, it makes a difference when knowledge transfer can be accelerated and optimized.”

Sharing knowledge and exchanging ideas is part of the SBB’s DNA. With their “Railway Know-how” initiative, Berger emphasizes, they are pursuing a decentralized approach: “As a learning organization, we want knowledge to live in the community and not just be stored on computers. With the help of getAbstract’s Custom Summary Service, we are bringing knowledge back into the minds of our employees.”

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