[White Paper Title] Knowledge Sharing
[Company Name] Bloomfire
[Prepared by] Steve Johnson
[Date] Thursday 20 June 2013

[Executive Summary] One of the three work-streams to come out of the Business Technology ‘Vision & Stategy’ meeting was around the topic of Knowledge Sharing and in particular Knowledge Management (KM). KM is based on the principle that an organisation’s most valuable resource is the knowledge of its people. Colin McGill has already written and presented a detailed White Paper on the subject of KM to supplement this Bloomfire Knowledge Sharing White Paper.

KM recognises that today nearly all jobs involve ‘knowledge work’ and so effectively all staff are ‘knowledge workers’ – in other words, their job depends more on their knowledge than their ‘manual’ skills. Creating, sharing and using knowledge is now recognised as the most important activity of nearly every person in every business.

Provision of a knowledge hub where colleagues could find all the answers to their questions without ever having to pick up a phone (or wait for an email reply) would ultimately allow colleagues to self-serve. This would be a huge relief for, not only, the BT Service Desk ‘first-line’ support but the organisation as a whole – consider the time each side could save.

Creating a knowledge environment usually requires changing business values and culture, changing people’s behaviours and work patterns, and providing people with easy access to each other and to relevant information resources – the right knowledge, in the right place, at the right time!

Knowledge is classified into two types – Explicit and Tacit:
Explicit knowledge is knowledge that can be captured and written down in documents such as manuals, best practices etc.
Tacit knowledge is the knowledge that people carry in their heads. This can be very difficult to access, as it is often not known to others. Most individuals are not aware of the knowledge they possess or, more importantly, its value to others.

In order to deliver a successful KM solution we have created a KM roadmap with defined key stages and milestones:

  • Analyse and audit the existing knowledge structure (adopting the A3 Lean Thinking methodology)
  • Align KM with the Business Technology strategy
  • Create a KM team
  • Develop a KM system
  • Pilot a KM scheme
  • Evaluate performance, measure ROI and refine the KM system
  • Make recommendations to the operational board and deploy throughout the business
  • Manage change and reward structures

The right tool makes all the difference, and companies with healthy collaboration are far more successful than those who display a ‘silo’ mentality. Recent studies show that:
Disengaged employees are costing the United States $370 billion annually.
Employees who identify with being ‘engaged’ are 78% more likely to recommend their companies products or services.
With this in mind, we have researched numerous Knowledge Management applications, one of those being Bloomfire which regularly comes out ‘on top’ in terms of ratings, reviews and opinions and has won several awards.

Alternatives to Bloomfire:

  • Mindflash
  • Litmos
  • TalentLMS
  • Docebo
  • Firmwater
  • eFront
  • Yammer
  • Huddle
  • SharePoint
  • Interact Intranet

It is our intention to undertake a 14 day trial of Bloomfire in order to establish if this is the right ‘tool’ for us to create a TVS SCS business-wide Knowledge Centre.

[The Company] About Bloomfire:
Bloomfire was founded in 2010 and is based in Austin, Texas. It currently has 30 employees and is projected to reach 50 employees by 2014. The company announced $8 million in new financing by Austin Ventures and Redpoint Ventures (bringing the total amount raised to date to $18 million). Bloomfire also provides software for companies such as Domino’s Pizza, Bechtel Corporation, Re/Max and Stryker Instruments.

Bloomfire enables companies of all sizes and industries to connect the people who possess knowledge with those who need it. Hundreds of companies worldwide are now using Bloomfire as their central source for company information.

Bloomfire aims to reduce the amount of time enterprise employees spend searching for information to do their jobs. According to a recent McKinsey and Company study, knowledge workers currently spend up to one-third of their day finding the information they need to do their jobs.

Bloomfire delivers content management and social collaboration features in an easy-to-use web application and works by forming communities and enabling content creation around topics of interest. It follows many features of mainstream social media tools such as ‘tagging’ to enable quick categorisation and retrieval of content. If the answer is not found amongst ‘tagged’ posts, media sources or comments, users can pose a question to find the answer, and are encouraged to do so within Bloomfire. In the process, it taps into the informal channels of learning at work and makes online socialising a productive activity for all employees, at all levels.

Content creation is at the heart of knowledge sharing and in Bloomfire content can be created in multiple formats including text, video, and audio. It enables users to record a webcam video or make screencasts (with a voice over) from within the tool. Once categories have been established, users can then browse by category or media type.

Bloomfire creates searchable content, which has proven to reduce employees search time by 35 percent. Users can add content from popular social media sites such as YouTube and places it into a structured social stream. The contributor can then share this information with select groups or individuals. An interested user can decide to follow the post, or the contributing member, and post commentary.

The Bloomfire administrative interface is extremely easy to use and is where you control the four user roles and permissions – those being Owners, Administrators, Learners, and Authors.
Learner: has personalised account settings, can search for content, ask question and make comments
Author: additionally can answer questions and contribute content
Administrator: additionally can control membership privileges, contribute featured content, can edit posts, and have override authority for content
Owner: can additionally manage the overall community settings, appearance (including customised branding).

Analytics Dashboard:
Graphical representations of what kind of content is making an impact with users, how people are interacting, and which contributions people are finding most useful:
– Track the very best content based on ‘Hi-Fives’, comments, follows, answers, and views.
– Identify the most highly rated contributing members (including those who are most helpful in answering important questions, and the ones most engaged on the system).
– Gauge the participation of the team by tracking comments to posts, ‘Hi-Fives’ given, questions that have been answered, and measure the time it takes to post answers.
– Choose report criteria and export all data via CSV file for custom reporting.

Cost Models:
Bloomfire is a SaaS-based solution that is contract free and scalable. It adds no extra charges for file storage including documents, uploads, downloads, or streaming. Monthly pricing plans include phone tech support and online support. Pricing is based upon the total number of users.

Security:
Communication both to and from Bloomfire’s servers is done over robust industry standard 128-bit SSL (Secure Socket Layer) encryption to their secure cloud platform.

Bloomfire does not have access to any passwords as they are filtered from log files and are stored in an encrypted format in the database.

Bloomfire has partnered with Amazon Web Services, a SAS70 TYPE II certified organisation, for its cloud-hosting platform. This platform ensures locked down, privately known locations and uses multiple security layers to prevent unauthorized access to the hardware and infrastructure.

[Benefits] Key Features:

  • Document Management
  • Authoring Tools
  • Video Software Included
  • Supports Video, Presentations, Modules & more
  • API & Single Sign-On
  • E-Mail Notifications
  • Analytics & Reports
  • Password Protection
  • Upload Any File Type
  • Sub-Communities
  • Salesforce CRM, Google Apps and LinkedIn Integration
  • Role based management, Content Moderation
  • eMail Notification
  • Mobile Apps (iPhone, Android)

2012 Awards:
Bersin & Associates named Bloomfire in their Learning Leaders Winners in the Vendor Innovation in Learning and Talent Management: Informal Category.

Bloomfire was named a Brandon Hall Gold Award winner for Best Advance in Social Learning Technology.

Bloomfire earned a top rating for a knowledge-sharing platform from GetApp.com

GetApp.com named Bloomfire in the Top 5 Cloud Business Apps.