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Technology’s Knowledge-Sharing Value

Bob Little 

March 6, 2015

Sooner or later, every L&D professional is asked to set up some form of “knowledge sharing” event. This could range from a face-to-face workshop to a Skype-based group conference or webinar. Increasingly, organizations want to share knowledge – of products and processes – on a larger scale with employees and customers around the world.

This can pose a challenge, particularly if the knowledge needs to be shared simultaneously with a global audience and/or if the process needs to take account of the audience’s different cultural and linguistic needs. As with other aspects of modern life, it’s here that technology can make a major contribution to achieving your goals.

The global company PANDORA, headquartered in Copenhagen, Denmark, employs more than 9,000 people worldwide and designs, makes and markets jewelry. This is sold in more than 80 countries on six continents through some 10,000 points of sale, including 1,100 or so concept stores. Some 50 percent of its revenue now comes from the US market.

According to its e-learning manager Per Ferdinandsen, “PANDORA needs to ensure its sales teams around the world sell the right products to the right people. We must also ensure that the customers return, to buy more PANDORA products.

“We’ve learned that e-learning, allied to other aspects of blended learning, is an effective method of providing our global salesforce with guidance on how to sell in-store most effectively. It’s also an effective method of distributing the up-to-date product knowledge that our employees – particularly the salespeople – need. E-learning materials are valuable because they’re available to everyone and present a coherent message.”

As PANDORA became global, there was an immediate need for its e-learning content to be available in many languages. It chose a learning content management system (LCMS) as the platform for disseminating this knowledge. Per explains: “The LCMS provides language support; HTML5 support; the ability for us to create and use templates; it allows us to control workflow, and it provides a software development kit, so that we can develop content ourselves. Importantly, the platform is scalable and is sited in the Cloud – so it can operate at a fast, or at least ‘normal,’ speed around the world.”

Per believes this enables his team to meet their objectives in terms of preparing and delivering relevant e-learning materials. He also believes that it’s helping PANDORA’s salesforce around the world to meet its targets, thus helping the company to meet its goals and objectives.

International freight forwarder JAS Worldwide Management, Inc has a global network of 47 subsidiaries, 35 exclusive agents, and more than 3,700 employees across more than 80 countries. Ken Kozlowski, JAS’s IT training director, says: “JAS emphasizes to customers its commitment to sustainability issues such as environmental responsibilities, health and safety, social responsibility, security, and ethics.”

This commitment has implications for every part of JAS’s operations – not least its employees’ knowledge and skills. Ken, who’s based in Atlanta, Georgia, says: “We had different aspects of the business storing documentation in various places on the Internet. Yet, in the interests of efficiency and effectiveness, we needed just one spot to store all of our information.”

JAS’s search for somewhere to store documentation and assess its customer knowledge base led it to a learning management system (LMS). According to Ken, “The biggest challenge we had was letting our end users know what information was available and where they could access it.”

Tina DeFeo West, a training specialist at JAS, explains: “By exposing team members throughout the world to the administrative side of the LMS, the ‘idea bank’ seems to have expanded. This has positioned the LMS as more than just the place to learn about our global system initiative. Additional subject areas are always being added to the learning library. This increases the platform’s visibility and viability within our company.”

“The LMS met our need for the one place we needed in which to store all of the large – and constantly growing – amount of information we hold,” says Ken. “The move has branded our training department, making it the ‘go-to’ place for job-related information, giving us, as a company, a one-stop shop for all our training/learning materials.”

JAS’s employees – from dock workers and warehouse operatives to the company’s president and CEO – now access learning materials relating to general IT knowledge and skills as well as those relating to sales skills.

This technology-enabled approach to knowledge-sharing is also being adopted in the world of international sport.

The Rome-based Federazione Italiana Pallacanestro (FIP) – the Italian National Basketball Federation – promotes, regulates and develops basketball, both professional and amateur, in Italy. It organizes national competitions and is responsible for both the Italian national basketball team and leagues, including the professional leagues Lega Basket Serie A and Serie A2 Gold Basket.

There are some 159,000 adult basketball players under the FIP’s jurisdiction, along with 146,000 juniors. It licenses some 13,000 coaches, 400 sports trainers, 18,000 team managers, 7,200 referees and mini-referees, and also employs 3,000 field officers. There are some 7,500 basketball clubs and mini-basket centers in Italy – and some 7,100 mini-basket coaches.

The FIP used to conduct all its training activities – notably for coaches and managers – via instructor-led courses. However, it is now merging this with online learning to provide blended learning. To help it do this, the FIP chose an LMS, which is now managing and monitoring the learning records of around 2,000 basketball-related learners throughout Italy.

It’s too early to see the new training regime’s success in terms of improved on-court international success, but there’s every indication that more learning materials are reaching more people under the auspices of the FIP than ever before. There are also indications – recorded and reported via the LMS – that these learning materials are being accessed, on demand, throughout Italy. This should help all aspects of the FIP’s work to prosper and, ultimately, for Italian basketball to perform to its full potential.

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2 comments on “Technology’s Knowledge-Sharing Value”:

  1. Ahmad Malik wrote:

    e learning must be linked with kip/ monthly target and on line test. As prerequisite of F2F session.

  2. Holus wrote:

    Thanks for the great ideas. There are definitely a lot of things for us to do