Walmart’s Knowledge Graph Strategy for Connected Learning Networks at KMWorld 2022


A single source of truth is an aspiration sought by enterprises burdened with inefficient and inefficient content management, only compounded by the growth of hybrid and remote work environments. Moving from a disjointed, ad hoc approach to a connected learning experience can be the difference between a scalable and flexible knowledge base and one with perpetual gaps.

At KMWorld 2022, Todd Fahlberg, Portfolio Manager at Enterprise Knowledge, led a discussion on the critical importance of managing structured and unstructured content in a multitude of complex systems. Using Walmart’s solution as the prime example, Fahlberg addressed common challenges and obstacles in enterprise KM, as business success requires scale and generates highly interdependent data in his session, “Building an Ecosystem large-scale innovative learning with graphic technologies”.

The picture of Walmart’s operations is vast. With Walmart Academy supporting core functions for 2.4 million associates at Walmart, Inc., including over 3.5 million assignments, over 4,000 video assets and over 4.3,000 projects e-learning, managing and organizing this knowledge is an extremely important task.

The reality is that Walmart associates drive over 80,000 SharePoint site visits every 90 days; this type of large-scale data poses challenges for visibility, search optimization, and integrating sufficient content data models. At the same time, you don’t want to “boil the ocean” or try to reinvent the wheel of ad hoc knowledge organization.

“For Walmart, their L&D experts often can’t find content and have to recreate new content, or aren’t clear on the data, or don’t see its value,” Fahlberg said. “Part of our effort is to show them that it can be found through collaboration.”

To formulate the building blocks of a collaborative solution, Walmart focused on what it was exactly they wanted to change, and what was the outcome they wanted. It has been reduced to a “library” approach to organizing information: a catalog of records to explore interests and a detailed index that helps find applied information through semantic search and automatically tagged metadata and systematically linked.

“Ultimately, we want to make each individual piece of content as unique as possible, so you can enable users to find what they need when they need it,” Fahlberg remarked.

This led Walmart to knowledge graph technology as the ideal basis for organizing knowledge. They needed technology that met their current knowledge needs and could continue to evolve, could manage interdependent data and organize data in silos, while remaining flexible with new integrations, new data models and content as the business evolves.

So why a graphical rather than a relational database? Its data is represented by entities and their relationships, and can easily express complex relationships between multiple entities. It is fully designed to handle relationships and power flexibility, meeting Walmart’s vast data needs.

Building on a database of knowledge graphs, Walmart developed its connected learning experience solution: a centralized digital library, or learning content database (LCD), acting as a single source of truth for Walmart’s learning portfolio which is widely accessible and streamlined.

“We wanted it to be simple,” Fahlberg said. “We wanted direct access to content and made a simple search query.”

The solution provides quick access to a content details page, connections to “source systems” for quick view and related learning in search results. Apache Solr, the source enterprise search platform based on Apache Lucene, allows them to browse self-tagged data through semantic search, powered by LCD’s knowledge graph and taxonomies.

With Walmart’s core graph technology supporting its vast knowledge network combined with its connected learning solution, the company is able to visualize its interrelated data while keeping knowledge accessible, trusted and simple.

KMWorld returned in-person to the JW Marriott in Washington DC November 7-10, with pre-conference workshops being held November 7.

KMWorld 2022 is part of a unique program of five co-located conferences, which also includes Enterprise Search & Discovery, Office 365 Symposium, Taxonomy Boot Camp and Text Analytics Forum.

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