December 20 2013

Ideedock continues as part of e-office

Author Pepijn de Visscher

Two years ago we started the development of Ideedock because we thought knowledge sharing in companies could be improved. We built a product, launched pilots and received hundreds of questions and answers. We found some great launching customers and joined Rockstart Accelerator.

I am proud to announce that from today Ideedock will be part of e-office. e-office specializes in corporate knowledge sharing and has about 100 employees working for established companies like KPN, Rabobank en Nuon.

Backed with the resources from e-office there is more capacity to continue the creation of an incredible product that will delight our users. I will join e-office and continue to oversee Ideedock.

For existing users little will change.

I am thankful for everybody that has contributed and supported our mission in the past years.

Official press release: (in Dutch)


August 12 2013

Why expert databases don't work.

Author Pepijn de Visscher

Expert databases required employees to fill out long forms with what skills you have, what experiences you gained, what languages you speak, etc. If you need someone with specific experience, they said, you can now search for it.
The problem is, it never worked. And it has been a frustration ever since. Here's why it never worked and never will:

Problem 1: Nobody fills out the damn form.

Employees are required to fill out the forms. Ask 100 people and 10 will actually do so. Force people to do it and you'll end up with shitty profiles that are incomplete. Because there's no urgency, people will never have time for it.

Problem 2: Nobody updates the damn form.

It needs to be updated regularly in order to work properly. Few people fill out the form in the first place, but really nobody is updating them. No matter how often you ask. The lack of cooperation is a source of frustration for thousands of knowledge managers. Employees are shortsighted and selfish they said. Maybe. But if it doesn't work better figure out a way that does work.

Problem 3: People don't know what they know.

Ask anyone what he knows, and he'll give you some generic terms like "employment law" or "social media". The truth is, any person has so much knowledge, you don't know where to start. It wouldn't make sense to write down that you once applied for an Venezuelan visa and know how the process works. Or that you happen to be good at macro's in Excel. Asking people what they know and the result is an incomplete database with only a few generic terms. And that stuff we already knew! We're actually interested in what you know that we didn't already knew.

Problem 4: Nobody searches the expert database.

Because everybody knows problem 1, 2 and 3, nobody bothers even searching the database. And they'll just start emailing their boss again...

Solution: Ask the question

Instead of documenting all knowledge up front, just ask the question. Having 50 pair of eyes looking at your question is 1000x more powerful than any database. Be suprised about how much valuable input you'll receive from colleagues. Stop recording stuff but ask the question. It's quick. It's efficient. And its far more effective.

Ideas or comments? Let me know at pepijn[at]


6 March 2013

Top 3 reasons customers use Ideedock

Author Pepijn de Visscher

We looked into all the content on Ideedock to see what type of questions people are asking. The conclusions below are based on about 60 questions from both an engineering agency and a financial consultancy.

We did our best categorizing questions which turned out difficult in some cases. Not every category is mutually exclusive, but altogether this gives a great insight in how Ideedock is used.

1. Who has experience with / information about X?

Example questions are “Who has experience with ISO 9001 certification in the public sector?” or “Who knows about retro-reflection classes?” etc. Without Ideedock, this question is typically answered by calling and emailing some of your colleagues. When the company has 50+ people this becomes an issue.

2. Looking for existing information

Example questions are “Where can I find that powerpoint we used for client X?” or “Who has course material from X?” etc. We defined this category pretty broadly as the examples are really diverse.

3. Who has contacts at company X?

This turns out to be a very popular question that we see especially in more commercially oriented departments. Technically, a CRM system should solve this problem. But trying to record everybody we know in a CRM system is impossible. Asking your colleagues just seems to be the most effective way to retrieve this information.

Other common questions were:

  • I could use input/ideas/suggestions.

Examples are “For my presentation I need some successful examples of X” or “My client is confronted with X, does anybody have ideas?”

  • Who has researched/calculated/done X?

In some regards this could be a sub categorie of reason number 2. Examples are “Did someone calculate the cost-savings of using method X?” or “Who measured the amount of resources necessary for Y?” There is research showing that employees spend 15% of their time recreating/duplicating existing work. In this case they use Ideedock to prevent redundant work.

As always, please send questions to pepijn[at]


21 January 2013

The high cost of NOT finding information

Author Pepijn de Visscher

This is great.

It sometimes is quite hard to explain to people that searching for information in enterprises is a big problem. Not everybody agreed with me. I ran into a great article that makes my life a lot easier:

IDC has researched both how much time knowledge workers spend searching for information and how much time they spend duplicating existing work.

Some highlights from the article:

“Using those studies as a basis, we set out to quantify the impact that not finding information might have on a typical enterprise of a thousand knowledge workers who earned an average salary plus benefits of $80,000 a year. We looked at:
  • how much time typical knowledge workers spend searching every week,
  • what their success is in finding the information they are seeking,
  • how much time they have to spend recreating work that exists already but that they couldn’t find,
  • what the opportunity cost to the organization is”

Some of their conclusions:

  • Knowledge workers spend from 15% to 35% of their time searching for information.
  • 40% of corporate users reported that they can not find the information they need to do their jobs on their intranets.
  • 15% of time is spent in duplicating existing information.
  • Of the $80,000 yearly salary, $18,000 is spent either searching or recreating information.

Beautiful article right? It’s always reassuring to see that we’re not the only ones thinking that this is a big problem ;). Many thanks to Susan Feldman, the author/researcher.


21 December 2012

10% of your people know everything

Author Pepijn de Visscher

Every day we see the most specific questions passing by, ranging from “who calculated the amount of pollution (TBA) that is equivalent to BZV and/or BCV?” to “anybody experience with retro-reflective road marking classes?”.

In the past weeks we learnt that in 80% of the questions, the answer is “Colleague X from office/department Y knows all about that”. This is interesting stuff. It means that 80% of the answers we get are referrals. All of a sudden Ideedock is turning into a “referral based information sharing platform”.

We noticed something else. Only 80 people at Tauw have registered on the Ideedock stream, whereas Tauw has 800 employees in total. Every question that is posted on their stream is currently only seen by 80 (or less) people. Yet all questions receive answers, often as a referral. Turns out there’s alway somebody of those 80 people, that knows who of the 800 people knows.

This means that 10% of your employees know (indirectly) everything. That’s a huge efficiency leap. Especially if you consider that conventional wisdom makes you think that in order to find specific information among 800 people, you have to ask 800 people. Technically speaking we have to reach out to 1/10th of the population to retrieve the required information. 90% efficiency gain!

The challenge now lies in how to make this even more efficient. Reducing the 10% to 1%. We have some great ideas about that which I’ll tell you in a later post.


3 December 2012

One question can save €20.000

Author Pepijn de Visscher

Our customer Tauw Group, an engineering agency with around 900 employees has been running Ideedock now for 2 months. Pim Dorst, one of their employees was looking for anyone with experience on fire resistance requirements related to steel constructions. Not easy to find with hundreds colleagues spread over 6 different locations.

For a client he wanted to know if plating needed to be relocated because of asbestos removal in a specific area. After checking with some colleagues he decided to hire an external consultant. Cost: €20.000.

A colleague mentioned trying Ideedock. After posting the question he received four helpful answers. Responses came from Amsterdam, Apeldoorn and Deventer, all this in about 1 hour. It turned out that Tauw had about 3 people very knowledgeable about this subject, saving him €20.000. The example shows brilliantly how expensive “not finding existing information” can be.

Not to mention that this information is now stored. Anybody else looking for the same thing next time can find the information in 1 minute.

Thanks to Pim for sharing his story!