by Stephanie Watson
Published on 10 December 2012
Workers in the cubicle culture tend to agree that face-to-face get-togethers are the single best way to share knowledge in a company. Some like the idea of weekly lunch meetings centered around a single idea as long as they are informal. One way is having a facilitator keep the topic gently in view by introducing the idea under consideration for the first five or ten minutes.
Others feel that just getting together for a brown bag lunch with no agenda works better because the topic always returns to the job and current issues affecting the group automatically. The important thing is to keep it casual, friendly, a time for socializing. Co-workers get to know each other at the same time they are throwing out nuggets of inspiration about the problem under discussion.
But, today with our ever increasing telecommuting culture, what do you do if the group is spread out over the country or even on different continents? Email seems to get a thumbs down in many companies. It is good for individual communication but off-putting for many. It's very easy for emails to get lost in translation. The big blocks of type usually needed to explain ideas tends to prompt people to hit the delete key. It works well one on one, but poorly for a group.
Basic intranets also don't cut it either. What users want most in a site is an easy way to create content and a quick, simple and effective search tool that covers the entire community. They also have trouble feeling comfortable with the top-down and structured approach of most of these platforms. On their own information and ideas pop up all over and are seldom organized. Instead they feed off each new round of interplay. To be effective, the method of exchanging information needs to reflect that.
Online social knowledge sharing sites have stepped in to help spread information, conversations and problem solving. Bloomfire is one of the most popular. It was originally developed to help salespeople know the product they were expected to pitch. It can handle content in any form, whether documents, video or audio. They've put a lot of emphasis on the search capabilities.
This site is made to be searched, with the use of keywords, tags and categories. It has a question and answer capability for sharing intelligence. The dashboard makes it easy to find out who is active online and what people are interested in. You can set up sub-communities for hot topics.
Knoodle is a knowledge-sharing site that is centered on presentations. You upload a slide-show and add audio and any other multimedia that you like. Members can comment, like and edit. By adding surveys, ratings and discussion forums, you can get a real feel for what a group, which you define and invite, thinks about the information.
You can make sure salespeople or others have grasped the idea you're trying to put across by adding a test. The ability to add methods of interacting makes learning and training friendly and inviting. The emphasis is on ease of use.
The developers made it simple for any worker in an organization to make a presentation because they feel that everyone is both learner and teacher. Compartmentalizing information inhibits sharing so they aimed to make it easy and quick.
Bloomfire and Knoodle are specifically designed for knowledge sharing. On the other hand, if it's a specific project that you want to collaborate on, Podio is oriented toward accomplishing a particular task, whether project management, recruiting, or a special event. It offers a huge range of apps to customize the platform in line with your team's needs. It's easy to collaborate on tasks, share ideas and keep track of time-lines. It's not a knowledge sharing platform as such, but uses those capabilities within the framework of project management.