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Meet Highspot, a service to find all the knowledge that slips through the cracks

Mark Hachman | March 20, 2014
Every company suffers from the same problem: Key documents are emailed, buried, and then forgotten about--until they're needed. Then the cycle repeats again. But a pair of ex-Microsoft execs say they have the solution.

Highspot mines Office documents, all image formats, PDF documents, and Web links, including Web links to video, Wahbe said.

Share and share alike
Highspot doesn't hope to replace existing systems and workflows like Office 365, but supplement them, Wahbe said. In fact, Highspot created its own Knowledge Graph, similar to the Office Graph Microsoft recently announced. And the similarities don't end there: the Highspot Knowledge Graph was architected by Paul Viola, the company's chief scientist and former distinguished engineer and general manager of the group that monetized Microsoft's Bing search engine.

Microsoft recently released "Oslo," a prototype app that in concept looks a lot like Highspot. But Highspot executives say that they two are different — but not mutually incompatible.

"We're not attempting to compete with the Office Graph... as they [Microsoft] take their Yammer asset and they try to create this uber feed across all of their assets. We're trying to make a very easy-to-use — taking a page from Pinterest, Amazon, Spotify and others — an easy-to-use knowledge sharing service that uses machine learning to surface that. And we will in fact use the Office Graph as they put that into that into their platform."

Does the Highspot technology work? Parallels' John Zanni said that it does. The virtualization company has been using it for four or five months, with a total of about 150 users, and Zanni said he saw it as an answer to the problem of quickly searching for and providing access to marketing collateral. Neither the CMS system the company used nor its Dropbox methodology proved effective, he said. And in certain cases, Highspot has pushed relevant, valuable content he wouldn't have othewise seen. "I'm a big believer," Zanni said.

Spots can be shared outside of the company, but the next step is to move from sharing knowledge inside the company to sharing it with partners, Wahbe said. 

"From the vendors' point of view and the resellers' point of view, it would be great if you could easily publish a spot, and then have the reseller find the materials they want. One of the challenges a reseller has [is] they might support 5,000 products, and they get flooded with all this vendor information and they can't find a thing. On the other side, the vendor feels really bad because they keep publishing new versions and they never get to the right people."

Likewise, partner communities would naturally benefit from similar information sharing, Wahbe said.

In 2004, a study by TalentKeepers found that the most catastrophic effect of a worker departing the company was lost knowledge, an argument for mining and storing that knowledge for future use. But such knowledge is useless if it can't be found again. Highspot sounds like a solution to solve that problem.


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