I recently read a recent CMSWire piece, “Are ESNs Just Intranets in New Clothing?” with interest since Bloomfire has been deployed as an intranet replacement by some of our customers. The gist of the CMSWire article is that the term “Enterprise Social Network (ESN),” which was at the height of it’s popularity in mid-2012 according to Google trends, is just a fancy term for what is basically a modern intranet.
According to a recent study cited in the article, the perception of intranets has grown from that of a static repository to something that includes “discussion and collaboration places, wikis, personalized activity streams and employee profiles.” The author, Andrew Wright, founder of the Worldwide Intranet Challenge, argues that the main purpose of the term ESN has been to capture the attention and budget of the C-suite. This rings true to me since companies are always looking for ways to stay on the cutting edge, and how a solution is characterized can mean the difference between it being considered seriously by executives, or dismissed.
Depending on whom you ask and when, Bloomfire has been called a knowledge base, intranet, internal cloud, enterprise social network, knowledge sharing portal, knowledge repository, collaboration tool, internal Wikipedia, social learning tool, repository of information, community, and forum.
What people call Bloomfire, and how we describe it to others, changes depending on the audience. For example, many analysts call Bloomfire an Enterprise Social Network, or a collaboration solution. Our customers tend to use neither of those terms. They often describe it as a knowledge solution, intranet replacement, wiki-like tool, or a community, among others.
However, I would argue that Bloomfire is all and none of these things. It’s a chameleon, becoming what it needs to be to solve clients’ problems. Some of the many ways companies use Bloomfire to solve problems include:
Sales Enablement: A repository for updated content and a place to ask and answer product and services questions
Customer Support: An internally or externally-facing FAQ
Training and HR: An onboarding and on-the-job training tool
Company-wide: To replace a company’s intranet and content repository systems (like SharePoint and file drives)
Today, we call ourselves a knowledge management solution, because our focus is first on content creation and sharing, and then to provide context around that content with comments and tagging.