Our ambition was to place the employee at the centre of the success of the digital transformation of companies and organisations.
Knowmore is celebrating its 20th anniversary!
This is an opportunity to look back on the major stages of the company’s development. Emmanuel Esquieu, CEO of Knowmore, gave us an exclusive interview.
How did you come up with the idea of creating Knowmore? How did the company come about?
Emmanuel Esquieu (E.E): My business, initially, was primarily focused on the deployment of IT applications and handling the issues of training, support, and guidance for users of large-scale Information Systems. At the time, 20 years ago, we were working on sandboxes or other training environments, to allow future users to train before working on the real application. However, when we trained users, we wrote course materials that sometimes had to be sent to 10,000 people. These documents are hardly ever read and are difficult to update, even if they are made available on an intranet.
It was time-consuming, complex, and expensive. The idea to make computer application simulators came up very quickly.
As soon as Knowmore was founded in 2001, we started to develop the first solution, K-STUDIO. K-STUDIO, also known as the authoring tool, allows you to clone the screens, data, and behaviours of an application to create interactive training content to help tens of thousands of users, now millions, to train on complex and expensive computer applications. Of course, the educational messages had to be integrated directly into the simulator.
The flexibility of the solution, its adaptability to the agendas of the people being trained, and its availability at all times make it an ideal tool for continuous training, consolidation and securing the transformation.
We quickly realised that we could and should go further to support users at their workstations after the training. The operating procedures proposed in the online help of the applications, when they exist, are not always easy to transpose. Users often have to search for a business rule or a document to enter the right information in their application. Users need to be alerted when they perform a business action… The ambition was to have all this information in real-time, at hand, directly on the application and for everyone.
In fact, with hindsight, our ambition was to place the employee at the centre of the success of the digital transformation of companies and organisations. This is what we now call the user-centric approach.
Knowmore then launched the development of the second solution, K-NOW, to offer dynamic help and operating procedures superimposed on the business applications, so that the user has access to information and guidance in real-time, as soon as they want it. The idea of “GPS application ” was born. We started experimenting with it at France Telecom. At the time, we called this solution digital coaching. In 2019, 18 years later, Gartner designated this market as the DAP: Digital Adoption Platform. It works on the same principle as GPS in a car: K-NOW guides the user, like a colleague who would train and guide him step by step, in his application. We can say that Knowmore is the precursor of DAP solutions, and certainly the first editor to have created and marketed a GPS application.
When was Knowmore founded?
E.E: Knowmore was founded in May 2001.
Which have been the structuring steps in Knowmore’s growth?
E.E: After having initiated the experimentation of K-NOW in 2001 at France Telecom, in 2003 and 2004 a second customer, a large international bank, trusted us to accompany them on what is certainly the largest banking project to date in France. With K-STUDIO, we delivered 250 interactive training contents to train the 15,000 users on their new workstations. This was a real success and we won our first prize: the CEGOS Awards for the 1st E-Learning project in the Deployment category.
On the strength of this success, we have gained the trust of several significant projects in the banking and insurance sectors. I would like to thank our clients who are still with us today.
In fact, as the projects and demands have increased, we have had to structure the Knowmore teams. We have recruited new developers to remain at the forefront of innovation and strengthened our technical team to be able to respond to the ever-increasing demands of the business and IT teams of our major clients. Knowmore has worked on over 200 different applications and collaborative tools. I am proud to have been able to keep and develop the employees who have been there from the start and who have been through the IT changes of the last 20 years and are now able to advise the IT teams of the largest companies. I am also very happy to have welcomed over the years Knowmore employees from various backgrounds who contribute daily to listen to and better serve our clients.
This wealth of skills combined with the new demands of our customers and the market has allowed us to regularly enrich our solutions.
In 2007 Knowmore acquired a company specialising in knowledge management, to create synergy with our solutions.
In 2014, we won new innovation awards, such as the Orange Digital Awards, or the change management trophies with Michelin and Oracle.
In 2019, in co-innovation with a major player in the aeronautics industry, inspired by Lean Management, we developed our 3rd solution K-VALUE. K-VALUE provides a dashboard and KPI of the user experience, the pathways, and the adoption rate and thus gives the keys to optimising the use of applications.
This wealth of skills combined with the new demands of our customers and the market has enabled us to regularly enrich our solutions.
What were the major difficulties encountered by Knowmore?
E.E: We have been through 3 major crises:
In 2001, when Knowmore was launched, we experienced the internet bubble crisis. It was not the best time to create a company! We had to be agile and innovative to survive this first difficulty.
We had to deal with the subprime crisis of 2008-2009. More than 50% of our clients were banks. Once again, we had to be creative and find new sources of growth. In addition to the external acquisition, we turned to new sectors of activity.
And then, like many others, we have been faced with the health crisis since 2020. Nevertheless, thanks to the measures we have taken and our loyal customers, our strategy has paid off and we have seen a growth of over 200% in Digital Adoption in 3 years.
It is true that for almost 15 years, Knowmore has struggled to evangelise the market. Large companies understood the benefits of K-STUDIO. Academies and Training Departments had difficulty in seeing K-NOW as a solution for continuing to develop users’ skills in business applications or collaborative tools throughout their working lives in the company. Our market started to mature about 5 years ago. We are seeing a growing interest in all sectors of activity from large accounts, SMEs, public services, publishers and consulting and integration firms.
Who are Knowmore’s customers who adopt your solutions and why?
E.E: Knowmore has worked with large accounts since its inception. Today, we work with 40% of the CAC40 companies and public services such as the Ministries of Education and the Army… The majority of our clients are organisations in all sectors of activity with tens of thousands of users. We support more than 1.2 million users, both employees and partners of our clients in France and abroad.
All companies and organisations are faced with the same problem: how to succeed in their digital transformation over the long term. Whatever their sector of activity or size, organisations must respond to a complex equation. How to deal with: the multiplication of CRM and ERP applications, the low adoption of these applications and the incessantly challenged user engagement, the need to quickly onboard employees, whether they are new or following a change of position, the different expectations of the different generations in terms of support in the face of digital technology… Not to mention the advent of SaaS solutions, which generate regular changes to applications, forcing users to constantly review their business actions.
Our solutions provide an innovative and proven response to this problem. On the one hand, we help organisations to prepare their users through practice and training to apprehend these application evolutions. On the other hand, once in a real work situation, we facilitate the action of users to accomplish their business tasks. Finally, by being part of a continuous improvement process, project teams or product managers can measure the actual use of their applications to implement corrective actions to optimise digital adoption. The savings generated and the user engagement observed by our clients are very significant. Some of our clients even act as our spokesperson within their organisation to present the benefits of our tools.
Our long-standing customer has deployed our GPS application over 110 different applications.
We have reached the 110th application at the end of the year 2020! We would like to say a big thank you to the Knowmore team for all the work they do and the support they give us. Without you, we would never have reached such a large number of applications!
Which departments are driving the digital adoption projects?
E.E.: This varies according to the company and the organisation. Nevertheless, these projects are most often led by the digital transformation departments, the change management departments or the IT departments. More recently, we are seeing them being led by Learning Officer, training academies or training departments.
Do you see a change in your market before and after the health crisis?
E.E: The health crisis due to teleworking has reinforced the use of our solutions, especially our GPS application. Our solutions are seen as a new communication medium. Indeed, our GPS can communicate to any user in the world the information they are looking for. Our simulator can also be used remotely regardless of bandwidth issues.
How do you see Knowmore in 3 years?
Our ambition is to consolidate our position as the French leader and to become the European leader in learning and digital adoption.
All the indicators are green. By 2025, 70% of companies worldwide will adopt a solution like ours (source: Gartner).
The facts confirm our vision.
Knowmore’s major challenge is to increase our visibility in the market, commensurate with our product expertise and customer portfolio.
We are continuing to invest and are devoting 15% of our annual budget to R&D. Our credo is innovation for our customers. We are also completely open to co-innovation, which we already practice with some of our customers.
We are consolidating our partnerships with major consulting and integration firms, which now include our tools as standard in their responses to calls for tender. And for the past 12 months, we have been responding to the growing demand from software and business application publishers.
For our 20th anniversary, I wanted to organise a big festive event to thank our customers, partners and employees – in short, all those who have placed their trust in us and without whom we would never have come this far.
But the health crisis has decided otherwise… It’s only a postponement!
We have many projects in progress! And we can’t wait to present them to you.
Thank you very much to Emmanuel Esquieu for this interview. We look forward to seeing you soon for a new article.