Like many online companies, KZO (pronounced “kay-zo”) started with a need. Jeff Fissell, now the vice president of solutions for KZO Innovations, and three of his colleagues were working at a nonprofit that taught kids how to use technology. As part of their work, they put thousands of video clips online, and soon learned the limitations of collaborative video training tools.
They turned that need into their own company and created an interactive, collaborative video-on-demand system, founding KZO in January, 2007. When Cisco signed on as one of the first customers, the start-up was able to attract a lot more attention. Before long, it was in use by U.S. intelligence, and received venture funding from Valhalla Partners and In-Q-Tel, the venture funding arm of the CIA and other intelligence agencies.
What won KZO all those fans was its method of providing video training. Customers can record a training video directly from their webcam, if they like, and easily synchronize it with a PowerPoint presentation. Creating an enhanced training video is simple. After that, they can upload their video to a secure video library, which integrates with a variety of single sign-on systems. Videos play on KZO’s own Flash and HTML5 player.
What really sets KZO apart, though, is its collaboration ability. When an employee watching a training video has a question, he or she can pause the video and submit a question at that point from within the player. The trainer for that video then receives an alert with a link that leads directly to that section of the video. Once the trainer answers the question, the employee is notified.
The trainer has the option of keeping the question and answer in place so that future viewers can see and learn from it. In that way, a blog-like discussion can take place right alongside the video. All the text in the questions and replies becomes metadata for the video, making it more searchable.
“The feature that gets everyone excited is collaboration,” notes Fissell.
At the moment, KZO has between 50 and 60 customers, Fissell says, mostly commercial, although some governmental. It’s sold as a service, but government agencies naturally need hosted versions they can install behind firewalls. Pricing can be on a per-user per-month basis, or by the amount of content stored.
KZO provides the interactivity of live training in an on-demand platform. Take a look at the demos on KZO’s site and see if you agree with Cisco that this is a tool worth learning from.