Hillel's Tech Corner: A paradigm shift in peer-to-peer learning

There is a lot of wisdom in the world and a global network like the Internet lets us all tap into it.

 Emerj is a machine-learning powered SaaS (software as a service) platform for knowledge sharing (photo credit: EMERJ)
Emerj is a machine-learning powered SaaS (software as a service) platform for knowledge sharing
(photo credit: EMERJ)
The Emerj platform is reshaping companies’ knowledge sharing and mentoring efforts with machine learning.
One of the biggest perks of a world with Internet and social media is the ability to share information, knowledge and wisdom.
There is a lot of wisdom in the world and a global network like the Internet lets us all tap into it.
The thing with the Internet though, is that there is a whole lot of noise, and differentiating between that noise and the true value has become increasingly difficult. As consumers, that challenge translates into a few more minutes of Googling and verifying sources. As professionals, things get a bit more complicated.
How many times have you run into a roadblock in your job? Whether it’s the information you need to wrap up a critical project, the answer you’ve been seeking to a nagging coding issue, or the insight that would turn a high-stakes presentation from “meh” to “wow,” it’s those situations where you find you’re unable to make progress on your own. Talking into the collective wisdom of your organization at that very moment would be tremendously helpful.
It really does not matter your profession, hitting these roadblocks and searching for answers is something most would agree is a daily occurrence.
Chedva Kleinhandler, an ultra-Orthodox young woman, recognized this challenge on the one hand, and realized that given the need, and the amount of information within any given organization, there has to be a better way to tap into it all.
Kleinhandler was keenly aware that expert help could be found within an organization, if only contextualized, personalized peer-to-peer learning was possible at scale.
So she decided to do something about it. And the idea for Emerj, a machine-learning powered SaaS (software as a service) platform for knowledge sharing, was born.
Based in Tel Aviv, Emerj was co-founded in 2016 by Kleinhandler, its CEO, and CTO Hannit Cohen, a tech industry veteran with 25 years’ experience in software architecture and programming for multiple organizations and start-ups. This is following her days in the MAMRAM unit (an acronym for the IDF’s Center of Computing and Information Systems).
The platform they’ve created takes a fresh approach to learning by enabling employees in large, matrixed organizations to connect with expert colleagues for one-on-one advice or job shadowing. The result? Greater productivity and employee engagement, from the kind of professional development you can’t get in a group seminar.
THE PRODUCT is a user-friendly platform that is closed for each organization. Employees can choose topics and type questions anonymously and find the most relevant people in their organization who have chosen to contribute their time and knowledge. They can filter the results by the perspective that best suits their current need. The connection and feedback happen on the Emerj platform, where people can build their own personal advisory boards, while the actual meeting or conversation takes place wherever employees prefer.
The impact their technology is making on a daily basis is discipline-agnostic; it touches every department in each of its client companies. Quantifying the resources involved – deliverables produced quicker, teams innovating more often, employees advancing faster or personnel choosing to stay at the company longer – would be a herculean effort in and of itself.
Another exciting byproduct of using Emerj is the culture it enables companies to build. Employees who might otherwise feel forgotten or neglected in their roles are instead empowered to hone their leadership skills. Managers and company leaders are capable of recognizing the potential of employees at scale.
Aside from creating a powerful tool for just-in-time learning, Kleinhandler and Cohen say they believe that Emerj also could have major benefits for employers as well. Their vision is panning out.
Leadership teams can use the Emerj system to gain a more holistic view of their employees’ needs, pain points and have a high-level perspective of where any opportunities may lie. Decisions can be made based on organization-wide data instead of intuition. Before that begins to sound a little Orwellian, staying in GDPR (general data protection regulation) compliance means that employees’ individual privacy is fully protected.
What Kleinhandler, Cohen and their small-but-mighty team have produced is growing in popularity with Fortune 500 companies and leading high-growth tech firms. And with 59% of millennials claiming they choose a workplace based on its available learning and development opportunities, and organizations in the US alone losing as much as $600 billion a year on voluntary employee turnover, Emerj could play a pivotal role in attracting top talent.
It’s been a busy few years. The team was able to further hone Emerj as part of the Fusion LA accelerator’s third cohort in 2018. They’ve received guidance along the way from the likes of Jerusalem Venture Partners’ Fiona Darmon and Facebook’s Adi Soffer Teeni; noted executive coach Shira Ronen and tech executive Alon Schwartz (whose company, Docstoc, was acquired by Intuit) who serve as advisers.
So far, Emerj has raised $800,000 in pre-seed funding from investors in Canada, Israel and the US and are primarily focused on establishing a strong presence in the US market. These days, Kleinhandler regularly appears as a keynote speaker on the future of work, and Emerj has received mentions in media outlets including the BBC, Forbes and Globes.
As Emerj continues to see its vision come to fruition with some of the biggest names worldwide along for the ride, the potential is quite endless. While other companies are focused on democratizing things like transportation, hospitality and communication, Chedva, Hannit, and team are democratizing knowledge within organizations. It doesn’t get much more powerful or impactful than that.