New technologies have changed the way we produce and deliver digital learning. Having e-learning authoring tools is a must-have for your L&D toolkit.
In the learning and development arena, authoring tools can be used to create digital learning content and modules. Instructional designers commonly use such devices in L&D teams to develop training materials for their employees. The training includes onboarding, compliance, and hard and soft skills.
dominKnow is one such specialized software that brings in the perfect blend of traditional eLearning course authoring with built-in software simulation. This means you only need a few tools to build more kinds of eLearning tools. With rapid authoring, stock assets, a central library, and real-time collaboration, you can create an immersive learning experience.
In Conversation with Mr. Luke Hickey, CEO of dominKnow Inc
We are glad to have interviewed Mr. Luke Hickey, the founder of dominKnow Inc, and learn about his and his company’s journey so far.
How long have you been working with this product?
I started with dominKnow in 1997, and at that time, we were developing custom content and off the shelf content libraries. To make our development processes faster and more efficient, we built software to help us. Before long, we realized we had a solution that could assist other teams in developing and managing their content, and in 2002 we released the first edition of our LCMS. From then on, we continued to build and innovate our solution.
Fast forward to 2011, when we released Claro, which was a ground-up rewrite of our authoring solution and which was also the industry’s first cloud-based rapid collaborative authoring product and one of the first all-HTML5 authoring tools for e-learning.
We continued to innovate by releasing a mobile app for content, a responsive authoring option, Flow, and software simulation support with Capture.
In 2018 we brought all of our solutions together into a single interface, dominKnow | ONE, providing a unique entry to the market, all-in-one cloud-based authoring solution. We’ve been busy since then adding off the shelf editable content library options, a dynamic content delivery option, Convey, and a soon-to-be-released collaborative performance support system, Clarofy, all of which are instantly accessible from anywhere – not just on that one CD we used to ship to you 20+ years ago.
It’s truly amazing to just stop for a while, and think about how far we’ve come, and what all now looks achievable with future technology that is right at our fingertips.
Are there any ideological principles that your organization follows to maintain the brand value?
Three core principles drive our team.
The first is customer service. At dominKnow, we truly see everyone’s job as one that ultimately serves our customer, even when a role may not have direct interaction with our clients. This client-centric approach helps us to continually gain a better understanding of their world and their specific needs, which in turn aids us in continuing to innovate our product. The hardest thing is knowing you can’t meet every need instantly, but we are always seeking to improve our solution proactively.
This leads to the second principle, continual innovation. The minute you sit back and put yourself into a “maintenance” mode is the moment you lose your edge. Throughout the history of dominKnow we’ve never been afraid to make the hard choices, even when it meant significant reengineering of our solution to make the necessary leap forward in technology and enable our solution to reach the next level. Although these can be painful choices in the immediate term, they are critical to our long-term success and empowering our customers’ successes.
The third principle is our love of learning and our desire to enable people to create truly effective and powerful learning experiences that will make a difference in our client’s organizations. While we love technology, we are learning professionals at our core and believe that when we work and learn together, the results are simply amazing. We seek to foster that with our solutions and through our customers’ use of them.
Considering the pace at which the SaaS market is growing, how important is it to keep innovating to stay in the game?
Changes to the market and technology can impact the business; we know this first hand. It’s important to use those changes to your advantage and help propel growth. For example, when we first started, it felt like the Internet had spontaneously appeared. We saw the opportunity and moved from CD-ROM to all online delivery. It was a huge change for the way we approached our business, but it made a serious impact on our ability to extend our reach well beyond our original customer base and opened dominKnow to new markets and product opportunities.
We continued to adapt over the years. We emerged as one of the first companies, in 2011, to drop Flash and fully embrace HTML5 to support mobile devices and then later (2015) extending this to full support for authoring a mobile-first responsive design experience.
Later, recognizing the important advancements in inclusive design in other web-based media, we embraced the same revolution and aligned dominKnow | ONE with accessibility standards like WCAG 2+. The result, an even more comprehensive collaborative authoring solution.
Being the first with many of these changes wasn’t easy, but they’ve proved to be the right choices. Furthermore, we’ve fully embraced the latest xAPI & CMI5 to empower content creators to fully utilize the standards with no programming required and have become the leader in this area. Our whole mantra is based on always learning and seizing the opportunity to advance and grow. Following this mantra, combined with the constant changes in technology and the market is fundamental to our business.
What is one thing that puts your product apart from the crowd?
dominKnow | ONE is the only solution that spans the different types of needs for training content and empowers small and large organizations all in one platform. In terms of training content types, in a single unified interface, we enable three core types of design for development teams.
In our “Claro” mode, we provide the ability to create traditional designs (fixed pixel) for use in eLearning and instructor-led materials (e.g., just like using PowerPoint presentation mode).
In our Flow mode, we embrace modern mobile-first “true responsive” design, enabling authors to create all different types of content and look and feel from e-learning, to knowledge bases, to support documents, to training guides.
Last, we enable the teams to create software simulations that can be added to either type of content to provide a show me, try me, guide, practice me, test me, or a downloadable job aid.
Each of these approaches provide extensive flexibility and options enabling beginners and experts alike to fully realize their training goals.
The last point is particularly relevant to how we empower organizations of different sizes. On the single user end, authors can leverage a flexible authoring solution to create content and begin to leverage the power of a fully collaborative system with versioning and multiple users, review workflow, and more. For large organizations they can have a team of potentially hundreds of authors all collaborating together, reusing content for maximum efficiency, working together on projects simultaneously and managing their content through enabling search across the content library, tagging, content permissions and a centralized approach to design and development.
How would you define “a successful product”?
A successful product is one that your customers feel is an essential element to being productive in their job and subsequently positively impacts their organization. We believe learning and development can have a tremendous impact on an organizations ability to succeed and grow. When our solution, or any for that matter, becomes an essential tool for an employee’s everyday life. Or when it enables them to do something they couldn’t before, or more efficiently, or with less. When your customers keep coming back to you and saying this is great, but wow this would make it even better or better still after an update your customer lets you know what a positive impact the new features/capabilities made.
We believe the best judge of a products success is how it enabled the users to make a positive impact on others as well as the organization as a whole and with it they were able to create or expand their positive influence on their business’s success.
What exciting is coming up from your side in 2020/2021?
Although 2020 has been a strange and challenging year for everyone, we are very excited about some of the advancements we have planned in 2021.
From a customer perspective, we continue to see strong growth with more organizations embracing a collaborative organization wide approach to developing and managing their training and support content.
We’ve recently launched regular customer meet ups so our customers can connect with each other, share their success, and benefit from the collective. We’ve also continued to see strong growth in our Instructional Designers in Offices Drinking Coffee (#IDIODC) podcast, which reached 70,000 streams across our network by December 2020.
From a product standpoint, we are looking forward to the release of our dominKnow | ONE 7.4 update, which includes over 50 new improvements and feature enhancements. Even more importantly, it brings forward a strong product redesign to immediately empower new users and experienced users alike. The update provides many enhancements focused specifically on making things easier and faster, tightly integrating our community of practice directly into the platform, and providing dominKnow development with direct insight into how our product is being used so we can better anticipate our customers’ needs and plan improvements for the future.
In addition to the advancements in our flagship product, we are also looking forward to enhancements throughout 2021 in our dynamic delivery product Convey, and making our community/performance support system, Clarofy, available to customers, so they, like us, can reap the benefits of having a dynamic support system that can enabled their organization to connect to their users with learning resources, community feedback and integrated workflow for their learning and performance support.