Back in 2009 when we first shared our thoughts on What does a Training Company need an LMS for, the technology-enabled learning market was in its nascent stage and the training industry was still contemplating (with skepticism) the adoption of eLearning. A year later, though the scenario had changed, the expectations of a Training Company from its LMS hadn’t changed much; barring a few aspects like GUI, Wizards, Graphs and Administration, which had gained significant importance then.
That was 6 years ago.
Between then and now, a lot has changed; New technologies have emerged, penetration of the Internet and super speed networks with 3G and 4G capabilities paired with easy availability of mobile devices has given rise to the multi-device world, user-generated content has taken precedence, informal and social learning have gained popularity owing to 70:20:10 and other similar frameworks.
And that’s just scratching the surface of it.
Each year, through the course of the past 6 years, Learning Management Systems have embraced these changes, pushed the envelope and attempted to reinvent what was known and accepted as an LMS then. Today, an LMS is no longer an ‘option’ for a Training Company, but, rather, is critical for its existence, survival and as a means to future-proof its business.
So, what’s new?
With the premise that Training Companies will be using the LMS to host and deliver/sell their own training content online to their existing and new customers (or individual users), and on the basis of the observations we had made in our earlier blog posts, here’s what had changed in the LMS:
For Training Companies
Whether rolling out a new training program or getting customers on board, speed to market matters a lot for Training Companies. Companies that can invest least possible time in implementing the Learning Management System can, to a degree, create a competitive advantage for themselves over their competitors.
Cloud Hosting/ SaaS
Closely linked with the above point is Cloud Hosting or SaaS LMS. There are many advantages for Training Companies to invest in a SaaS LMS; we had written about the top 10 reasons a while back. And while Hosting and Support has been on the must-have list for Training Companies since the beginning of time, it’s the inherent advantages of Cloud Hosting (like zero to low server maintenance and upgrading cost leading to lower TCO and higher ROI) that most training providers are now looking for.
APIs and Integration
Training Companies need to plan for not just productivity and efficiency in its training management, but also for some unanticipated future scenarios. APIs help in doing just that. By enabling data exchange between applications, they automate workflows and processes. Example of an API needed by a Training Company includes one that pulls training or learning information in the form of Catalog or Learning Plan from the LMS to any web portal, which the training provider can showcase and make available to its learners.
Single Sign On
With most of us maintaining tens of online accounts for various purposes and uses, it’s only normal to expect the signing in process to be made easier. Training Companies now demand Single Sign On (the ability for users to access multiple online services through a common identity/ set of login credentials) as a part of the LMS to enable their learners to experience seamless accessibility from any third party system to the LMS.
Multiple studies have proven that different methods of training used as a blend is one of the most effective ways to help learners learn and retain information. An LMS that enables the scheduling, planning and delivery of eLearning, Classroom Training and Virtual Classroom not just individually but as a part of a Blended Learning Curriculum, is a must-have for a Training Company today.
Scalability, Security, Reliability
In today’s day and age, an LMS being ‘scalable, secure and reliable’ isn’t good enough unless it meets the desired (and increasing) demands and expectations of its users.
To be able to handle higher loads and/or add on new modules is crucial for Training Companies as the business of training, specially online training, is dynamic and keeps evolving. While data security (content and user data) is needed to give Training Companies’ customers the security and confidence that their data is protected and will not be exposed. Given the diverse nature and spread of a Training Company’s learner population, having a almost 100% uptime on the LMS is vital for the company’s business.
Driven by the change in the technology landscape and user behavior, Training Companies now understand, appreciate and need ‘Learner Engagement’ more than ever. We have covered all the below mentioned points in a recently published blog post – How important is Learner Engagement for Training Companies?
- Multi-device Responsive Access
- Social Learning & Knowledge Collaboration
- Easy-to-use GUI with enhanced UX
Reporting & Analytics
Reporting has now grown beyond just viewing and tracking all learning activities on the LMS in the form of reports. In context of today’s dynamic business world, business intelligence that can translate the information in these reports into meaningful information for devising better L&D strategies and improving processes is another must-have for Training Companies.
Enhanced Portal Branding
For a Training Company managing all its clients including corporate, retail, and individual from the same setup is of utmost importance. Of similar importance is the need of an easy-to-use Admin interface that enables modification of portal branding (from the font typeface to the color of the navigation) for each of the portals quickly and intuitively.
With the Training Company managing all portals on the same LMS setup, it is important for it to have the flexibility to control the portal level access for each of its portals. An LMS that allows portal Admins to manage their own content, users, reporting, etc. with full security, while giving the Training Company the ability to oversee and manage the operations across all portals is now desired.
When we look at it closely, what we observed back in 2010 still stands true. “Training Companies are looking for an LMS that has been designed with them in mind and NOT a system that has been designed as an LMS and then can be modified to meet their needs.”