Bloomfire is a relatively new offering in the knowledge management space, founded in 2010, that is meeting a need that has remained with us for some time: how do you connect people with the knowledge they need to accomplish their work tasks? This need has been made more acute with the advent of easy-to-use knowledge tools on the consumer Web. For the past few years, workers have become accustomed to accessing better knowledge tools in their personal life than in their work life. The goal of Bloomfire is to provide tools to close that gap. I spoke with Craig Malloy, CEO of Bloomfire, to get an overview of their offering.
Craig provided some stats on the knowledge-sharing problem. Knowledge workers spend up to 30% of their working day looking for data and only 44% of corporate users can find the (internal) file they’re looking for compared to 86% of similar internet users. I can relate to this as I have often asked audiences at knowledge talks to raise their hands if they can find content easier on their enterprise systems than on the Web. No one has ever raised their hand.
There are also issues with enterprise learning systems. Craig showed data that said more than 70% of important job-related knowledge comes from other workers or learning on their own rather than employment-related courses. I have seen more extreme stats that showed that 90% of knowledge came from informal sources. Bloomfire, unlike many social business systems, combines learning capabilities with social networking, content management, and cloud-based file sharing. I like this move.
There is great opportunity here as McKinsey has projected nearly a trillion-dollar market opportunity around creating better-connected enterprises. The convergence of social features, mobile capabilities, cloud storage, and new content tools, creates a compelling stage from which to address these benefits, which is where Bloomfire plays. Their mission is to “help businesses create, capture, display, save, and share information, connecting people who have knowledge with those who need it.” Through application integration, Bloomfire wants to be the “primary location to access relevant content, and the primary communication channel for noticing, collaborating, deciding and acting on information and knowledge.”
Bloomfire has successfully acquired more than 220 active customers to-date and raised $18 million in funding from Redpoint Ventures and Austin Ventures. Their two main use cases are social knowledge creation and sharing, as well as delivering social capabilities to enhance sales enablement. They integrate with popular CRM systems, such as Salesforce, to address the latter and have designed an easy to use a system designed for individual work groups, rather than enterprise wide implementation. This simplifies the adoption process and enables business users to gain quick access to Bloomfire’s capabilities. You can see a sample of their home page below.
The essential elements of the newest release of Bloomfire include a multimedia content engine, a social engagement system, an analytics dashboard, and enhanced iOS app and new Android support. The content generation includes co-authoring, drag and drop file management, and intelligent search. The social engagement features include Integration with LinkedIn so users can bring in their profile and not have to re-create profile information. There is also recognizing and mining expertise and recommendations.
I was impressed by the comprehensive nature of Bloomfire’s analytics feature, including the ability to indentify content that provides the most benefit, as well as the content related activities of community members; there is also a “hands on the buzzer” measure that tracks the average time it takes to get an answer to a question. Craig said that their current time for internal use is two hours. Here are some sample analytics screens.
With the new mobile capabilities you can stash content on your smart phone by storing what you would like to read later and save it locally to your iOS device to retrieve and view anytime, anywhere, regardless of connectivity options. Bloomfire will also release a full-featured mobile app for Android devices in Q2 2013. You can see a sample mobile interface below.
Bloomfire focuses on content management and knowledge sharing, rather than activity streams. There are notifications of several types and a notifications tab within the interface. It also has strong capabilities for handling video as the team has deep experience in this space. You can see a sample video handling screen below.
I like the combination of features and the clarity of their goals and messaging. I can see why Bloomfire has attracted strong attention in a short time. I wish had these capabilities within a tool when I was implementing knowledge management systems a few years back.