How can one find and exchange knowledge in a large enterprise? That’s the question Swisscom is investigating in a Proof of Concept (PoC) with the start-up Teachy. An important step on the learning path: the Kickstart Accelerator programme.
‘Knowledge transfer in a company such as Swisscom, with roughly 17,000 employees in Switzerland, is a problem,’ says Patrick Veenhoff, head of the ENT Academy at Swisscom. ‘There’s an enormous amount of expertise available. It’s just difficult to find.’ After meeting Christian von Olnhausen at a trade fair and becoming familiar with his start-up Teachy, the solution quickly became clear. Teachy is building a platform that connects students with teachers for tuition. ‘The logic behind the approach really suits our needs,’ says Veenhoff.
As a start-up, however, Teachy is still in its development phase. The contact platform exists as a minimal variant right now. Participating in this year’s Kickstart Accelerator programme has helped. The mentoring system connects start-ups with coaches, experts and potential customers, and thus helps them to continue to develop. ‘We feel that confirmed our business idea,’ says Teachy founder and CEO von Olnhausen after participation in the programme. ‘Our reputation has also been enhanced. That has meant we can perform a PoC with two companies.’
The platform promotes informal learning
At Swisscom, the ‘Meet the Expert’ platform has been established as a PoC. If employees have a problem, for example, with using a new tool, they can directly contact other employees who can help them. ‘We want to promote informal learning with the platform,’ explains Veenhoff, who is the project manager for Swisscom. ‘Employees benefit from the exchange and, of course, the company as well.’
Teachy will also reap benefits and be able to continue to develop its contact platform. ‘The PoC will help us find out which functions users expect – and also what they don’t like about the platform.’ The objective of von Olnhausen’s team is to develop what is known as an MVP, a minimal viable product. In other words, a version of the contact platform that meets the minimum requirements of its users. On that basis, Teachy will be able to develop new services and, if necessary, adapt its business model to meet the real needs of its customers.
A doubled learning effect
The question that remains is why Swisscom as an ICT service provider does not simply build this kind of platform itself, instead of obtaining the innovation externally. The reasons behind it are complex, says Veenhoff: ‘Start-ups are very flexible and motivated to try things out. They shake things up. Our innovative employees, in contrast, are usually already involved in projects and do not have the resources.’
That means the PoC has a doubled learning effect: Swisscom will be able to improve its in-house exchange of knowledge, and Teachy will be able to develop its business model and technology.