While we were all living in 1996, Bill Gates was in 2016.
1996 was the year that Bill Gates wrote a prophetic essay titled “Content is King.” A remarkably accurate commentary on how the Internet would, one day, become the new predominant medium for content, it predicted that companies who harnessed its power to cheaply and rapidly share information would profit greatly.
In his essay Gates reasoned that successful content would offer more than static words on a page— or a computer screen. “If people are to be expected to put up with turning on a computer to read a screen, they must be rewarded with deep and extremely up-to-date information that they can explore at will. They need to have audio, and possibly video. They need an opportunity for personal involvement that goes far beyond that offered through the letters-to-the-editor pages of print magazines,” wrote Gates.
Just as Gates imagined when he originally wrote his essay, the way in which we discover, consume, and interact with content has indeed changed as the Internet has matured. Today, we get breaking news from trending hashtags on Twitter. We can binge-watch an entire television series the day it’s released on Netflix. And we rely on the product reviews made by strangers to inform our buying decisions online.
Social media platforms have enabled the powerful rise of user generated content. Now, nearly everyone has the power to create and share content in real-time right in their pocket. And with the right timing, some creativity, and a little luck, anyone’s voice can be heard worldwide on social media. Similarly, anyone with a smartphone can capture and stream live events as they happen.
For many of us, it’s hard to remember what things were like before the Internet and smartphones made everyone a node in the network of constantly flowing information. Now, we’re all used to hearing just about every time a new meme or movement rises up from the consumer web. Yet with much less fanfare, the exact same thing is happening at work.
Over the last 20-plus years, similar digital transformations have been shaping the way employees share knowledge behind the corporate firewall. More often than not, online technologies — email, video communications, knowledge management systems, team collaboration tools, and more — are being tapped to enable virtual communication and the rapid sharing of information among coworkers in order to maintain a competitive advantage.
Employee Generated Content (EGC): The Next Revolution In Corporate Knowledge Sharing
The velocity at which information spreads increases exponentially when it’s easy to capture, easy to share, and easy to discover. The counter is true here as well: the spread of information moves a lot slower if only a handful of content creators exist, content is harder to produce, content is difficult to share or not easily searchable.
Until recently, the fact of life in many organizations was that there were relatively few people responsible for creating, sharing, and archiving the company’s knowledge base. And the tools that companies did leverage to support knowledge sharing didn’t go far enough to truly enable the viral sharing and easy discovery of institutional knowledge.
Of course, there were bright spots. Formal learning initiatives tended to be better supported than informal social learning. But in a world where informal social learning potentially accounts for 90% of the learning that happens at work, too often a wealth of institutional knowledge and subject matter expertise was either stuck in organizational silos or simply left undocumented.
Enabling employees to generate more content for your corporate knowledge base is the key to reaping the advantages of a fully-mature learning organization. And perhaps equally as important is making that content easily shareable and discoverable so that the well-connected nodes of knowledge within your company mimic the fire hose of information we see in our personal social media feeds.
So how do you get more employees to create content? And what are the tools that enable knowledge discovery?
Getting Employees to Generate More Learning Content
Building a culture of learning with buy-in from leadership in your organization is one way to encourage employees to document more of their knowledge. Giving them the right tools that make it as quick as possible to share their knowledge is another key to success.
When learning professionals think about documenting information, processes, training, and more, we tend to go straight to typing up documentation in a word document, creating a PDF, or even making PowerPoint slides to share our knowledge. Why? Because these tools are readily available. But creating written documentation takes significantly longer than pressing record and capturing a video walkthrough of a process. And text on a page is far less engaging than video.
So does that mean employees all need to be given access to your video studio? Or to the specific tools your L&D or HR teams use to create learning content?
Remember, when it comes to sharing institutional knowledge, content is king — and production values don’t even have a place in the court. Colleagues will happily watch a video with poor lighting or a nervous presenter, so long as the information presented is worthwhile. The inverse, however, doesn’t hold: no one will stay for a slick video with little knowledge to share.
Most employees already have a laptop or cell phone with a built-in video camera and microphone. That means all you need to do is arm them with a video screen recorder that makes it easy to record themselves, their screens, their slides, and any other media they want to show.
That way, the next time a team lead is walking a colleague through a new process, for example, she can simply press record to share the same demonstration with everyone on the team or in the company on-demand.
Enabling Rapid Knowledge Discovery
There are a number of different systems that many businesses use today to securely manage their knowledge libraries and to help employees search for content that may be relevant to a question they have at the moment an answer is needed. These include learning management systems (LMSs) like Cornerstone, content management systems (CMSs) like SharePoint, and collaboration solutions like Slack.
These systems work quite well for knowledge captured in text documents, PDFs, and PowerPoint slides, but they do not work well for video. Here are a few problems you might encounter when trying to use your existing systems to support a video knowledge base:
- Video files are large — knowledge management solutions typically cap the maximum size of individual files and your overall library. That means these tools will likely restrict your ability to share larger recordings, like your hour-long training videos, as well as larger collections of recordings, like a library of employee generated video content.
- Video files can be difficult to play — with so many different computers and devices employees may be using, it’s a virtual certainty your video library will end up with an alphabet soup of possible video formats (AVI, MP4, MPG, WMV, MOV, etc…). Knowledge management solutions do nothing to ensure your recordings can be played back on any device regardless of file type, so relying on these systems to host your videos will likely result in employees seeing more “error: file type unrecognized” errors.
- Searching video files — the value of a 100-page manual is that it covers everything, but can still be instantly searched with a quick tap of Control-F. With knowledge management solutions (and even with sites like YouTube and Vimeo!), the same isn’t true for video. These systems can’t index the content of your videos — the words spoken by presenters and shown on-screen — all they can index is the title, tags, and other metadata you manually add. That makes it harder to search for information in your videos, and will eventually mean your employees rely less on your videos as ongoing resources.
And as more companies take advantage of building video-based knowledge libraries that better inform and better engage, there’s a growing need for video management solutions that connect with existing knowledge systems and solve the three challenges to video listed above.
Related Reading: What Is a Video CMS?
Fortunately, you don’t need to replace your current systems in order to make employee generated content king, as Bill Gates would say. Panopto’s online video platform includes technologies that make recording videos easy for everyone, that optimize video content so it’s playable on any device, and that make any word spoken or shown inside your videos searchable. Panopto also integrates with a huge number of LMSs, CMSs, and collaboration tools so you can share and search your video knowledge base from within those tools.
Want To Capture More Of Your Employees’ Knowledge In Video?
Panopto is an industry-leading all-in-one video platform that makes it easy for anyone in your organization to record their knowledge in a video, share it to your company’s central video library, and even search inside all of your corporate videos to find the information they need, exactly when they need it.
Contact our team today to request a free trial of Panopto.