By Thirst founder and CEO, Fred Thompson
The year 2022 is going to be a special year for myself, our team, and the professional development sector. We have just launched Thirst, and you’re going to love it.
Alright, sure, so what is Thirst?
We’ve built Thirst to be the learning and knowledge platform your employees will want to use.
In development for nearly two years, we’re focused on providing a learner-centric, collaborative and social learning-based platform to the modern SME.
What problems are we solving?
I am a director of a handful of small businesses. I’ve been involved in learning technologies for nearly 20 years, orchestrating and building everything from innovative authoring tools to enterprise bespoke learning platforms. I know more-or-less everything there is to know about professional development, its implementation and its benefits.
But you know what? Not one of my businesses has implemented a learning platform for its employees.
More often than not, businesses that have less than 250 employees (SMEs) do not provide training and development opportunities for their employees, even though the statistics around its provision is a key metric that drives efficiency and retention. In fact, 76% of millennials believe professional development opportunities are one of the most important aspects of company culture.
So why do SME’s struggle to provide this?
The reasons are plentiful, but here are some headlines: • Sluggish, unintuitive, dated & feature-light platforms that are not beneficial to modern business. • Difficult to purchase, long implementation time, and high prices. • Requires time and resource to create, curate and manage learning content.
Problem: Unintuitive and feature-light platforms.
Whilst my sector is certainly learning & development, I lean very heavily towards technology due to my software development background. As many a software developer will attest, we love signing up for the latest and greatest software tools to augment and improve our everyday lives. I frequently switch between team communication (Slack), visual collaboration (Miro), task management (ClickUp), note taking (Notion) and video conferencing (Zoom) tools.
Each and every one of these tools: • is a feature-rich platform • provides tremendous value • solves real world problems eloquently • is delivered as a service (SaaS) • works on every device • is incredibly user friendly • and requires no human interaction or wait time to be up and running and providing tangible benefit to myself, my colleagues and my business.
I challenge you to find a learning platform that delivers in these areas in the same way these game-changing tools do.
They simply don’t exist. Until now.
Problem: Difficult to purchase, long implementation & high prices.
The learning space is fraught with buzzwords and mystifying complex acronyms in a loose attempt to pretend the sector, its platforms and its problems are greater, more complex, and more costly than another.
By design, the current learning platform market actively discourages and prevents SMEs from utilising top tier learning systems, with large providers implementing minimum user numbers and contract lengths, and often refusing to even entertain your request for proposal (RFP).
Provided you meet the criteria, you’re then required to talk to a product expert, sales consultant or customer success advisor before you can trial or even see the product.
You’ve jumped these hurdles? Great, now be prepared for a slow-moving consultation and implementation period before you can go live.
Why do I have to sit through a sales pitch to gain access to the platform or wait 6 weeks for an implementation, when the rest of the world has moved on?
With Thirst you don’t.
Problem: Requires time and resource to manage.
The prominent software style in the sector is a Learning Management System (LMS) and this, in essence, is the problem. It allows you to manage the learning for your team.
….But what if I don’t have the learning content to manage?
Small and medium sized businesses typically do not employ a specific Learning and Development (L&D) team, or curate and author their own learning content. This is itself an enormous barrier to these companies to providing development opportunities within their organisation.
If enough content is created and sourced, it is then often a further challenge to manage the assignment of content to the correct audiences and to track completion and populate reports.
Furthermore, the majority of expertise and knowledge within a business is tied up within individual team members. Without a specific L&D team to capture this tacit knowledge, generate e-learning and assign it to the correct subset, how would this content ever be shared?
The provision of applicable content, the allocation of learning to the correct audience, and collaborating insightful and informative reports is frustratingly out of reach for most SME’s.
And that’s why we’re here. To change the game.
Through my career I’ve conversed and resolved many learning problems, but let’s boil this back down to what we simply want to do.
We want to provide the most effective and relevant learning content to your teams to upskill their careers and your organisation.
Let’s take a brief look at how we meet this goal and deliver to SMEs and learning teams in a way like never before.
An elegant, skills-based, user-centric experience, personalised for each learner.
A fast, gracious and simplified user interface that works on any device. A Netflix-influenced dashboard presents a series of rows featuring learning content selected explicitly for each learner.
We use machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) recommendations based on your skills, interests and the content digested to provide you with a unique learning experience. We have all the buzzwords that you’ll hear from other vendors, but no one is as focused on ensuring the content that is surfaced to you as a learner is as relevant as it can be, based upon your interactions, habits and preferences you may not realise you have.
Insights and analytics that will influence your business.
Yes, we’ve got reports that cover the quantity of learning completed by individuals, and charts that feature the most popular item or the most active employee; but what if we could observe and analyse some truly innovative insights that map skills, users and content to illustrate trends over time? • What was the most sought-after skill within our organisation this month? • How has the interest and consumption of content for this skill trended over the last quarter? • Do we have enough targeted learning content to fully meet the professional development progression of our team and upskill our business? • Which members of our team are having the greatest impact on their colleagues?
Our Business Intelligence (BI) driven analytics allows for slicing, sorting, filtering and segmentation of countless key metrics to ensure you can see the full picture.
Instant access, transparent pricing, abundant assistance.
You can use Thirst with 10 users or 10,000, 100 or 100,000. Our pricing scales with you, there are no commitments, and it’s clear what you pay right from the start.
We’re so confident you’ll love Thirst, you can try us free for 14 days instantly, and we don’t feel the need to tie you into a long term contract.
Whilst we’ve nullified the implementation time, we’ve not thrown away the implementation expertise. There is a copious amount of assistance included from our platform and learning experts – free of charge – to ensure your launch goes completely to plan, plus a swathe of videos, help articles and our response helpdesk.
I am befuddled with how this simple concept still evades our competitors.
Content included, tacit knowledge sharing imperative.
From the moment you’re signed into Thirst and have selected your achieved and desired skills, the platform will deliver the freshest learning content due to our unique partnership with award winning learning content curators, Anders Pink.
If you have your own content too, that’s no problem. Be it videos, PDFs, Word documents, PowerPoint files, images, or SCORM packages (to name just a few), we’ve got you covered, and you can add them to the platform via our easy upload function.
We’ve really doubled down on social learning too, allowing everyone in your organisation to directly create, upload or link learning content and map it to one or more skills. This encourages and facilitates tacit knowledge sharing, which gets the expertise out of the head of an individual and into the hands of their colleagues.
New features, for free, all year, each year.
Although we’re feature packed, we’re just getting started. Our roadmap is published with our continuous plans for the product, but you can also feed into our features and improvements list directly.
As we’re a true SaaS platform, we roll out a combination of updates, modifications and new features multiple times a week, ensuring you’re always going to have the latest and greatest learning features within your organisation.
Be one of the first to strive for more from L&D.
We’ve worked hard on Thirst over the past 22 months, but that all means nothing until our first series of organisations try it for themselves and feedback. We’re continuing to develop the product, and we’d love to hear your thoughts on where we go from here.
We’re confident that you and your teams will enjoy the learning experience of Thirst, and we’ll all look back at today’s L&D status quo as a tired and forlorn relic of a bygone era.