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Micah Fairchild Corporate Learning Systems: A Push for Enterprise E-Learning Technology

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 By Micah Fairchild

With Corporate Learning Systems—Enterprise-Wide Learning is on the Rise

Finally being seen as an asset rather than an expense, few organizational areas are as all-over-the-map as learning and development (L & D); and learning software systems are no exception. Because of this, organizations are turning increasingly to solutions that allow for some much-needed "standardization" across the enterprise, and as such are looking to Corporate Learning Systems (CLS) to stem the tide. In fact, a Gartner study found that 76% of respondents focused their learning systems at the enterprise-level. Further, the proliferation of Mobile Learning has caused yet another stream of HR learning systems to explode. Gartner's Jim Hollincheck cites a recent company study that found 34% of survey respondents stating an intent to deploy mobile learning in the next 12 months (up 8% from last year).

Corporate Learning Systems' Consolidation Focus

This push for enterprise-wide deployment of a corporate learning system is due in large part to the increased efforts to focus HR in a more strategic direction, and so movement is heading away from the ad hoc training responses of the past to a deliberate attempt to put all employees on the same learning page. Indeed, according to Bersin & Associates' Josh Bersin, "The LMS market has expanded to one of total learning platforms". However, due to the fact that, historically, organizations have focused the bulk of the budget for training on formal, classroom-style "teaching", companies are being faced with having to accept an alternate reality—that employees are learning from each other and that learning is extremely difficult to control. Couple that with the fact that psychological and educational studies the world over continue to highlight that peer-to-peer learning is what's most effective, and it's not difficult to see why organizations are clamoring to consolidate their efforts.

All three types of learning (formal, informal, and social) occur throughout an organization and Corporate Learning Systems are capturing that—taking on an increasingly holistic outlook on learning that incorporates revenue, CRM, human capital analytics, and talent management. Gone are the days when headcount was the only metric used to determine the effectiveness of a given development initiative. That being said, the results of Gartner research done earlier this year found an almost identical match of CLS deployment to historical "training" rationale. The reasons companies choose to deploy Corporate Learning Systems?

  • Improve business performance
  • Reduce cost of training
  • Improve employee compliance
  • Standardize processes
  • Reduce employee time to competency

Software Specifics: is CLS the new Learning Management System?

Although Corporate Learning Systems do keep expanding functionality, the basic "core" makeup of a CLS hasn't drastically changed—and still consists of:

  • Learning Management System (LMS) — software capability that is involved with records administration, training resource management, and robust reporting.
  • Learning Content Management System (LCMS) — information system capability that is involved with the building, storage, and deployment of learning and development
  • Learning delivery — system capability involved with how the learning is actually delivered, whether it be synchronous or asynchronous, instructor-facilitated or informal or otherwise.
  • Social learning — system capability that is involved with individuals, teams, and communities of learners via collaboration.

Still, it's the additional functions that are edging many organizations further towards the purchase of a Corporate Learning System. These are the elevation elements that track (and often give) healthy return-on-investments and are seen to be trending from numerous vendors, according to Freyermuth, Holincheck, and Otter of Gartner. These key system capabilities include enterprise scalability, consolidation, system integration, compliance and improved reporting and analysis.

Major Corporate Learning Systems (CLS) Software Players

The CLS software market offers several competitive solutions, including:

Cornerstone OnDemand – Offered exclusively through a multi-tenant Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model, Cornerstone's intuitive performance management, succession management, compensation management and social networking products garners consistent praise and seems to work well with all employee levels.

Plateau – Offered through the on-premises model or through multi-tenant SaaS, Plateau's talent management suite (which includes performance management, succession management and compensation management capabilities) seems well-suited for mid-to-large companies and earns a 99% client renewal rate.

Saba – Offered through both on-premises and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) or cloud delivery, Saba's operations work extremely well for large and geographically-dispersed organizations.

SumTotal - Offered through both on-premises and SaaS, SumTotal has both the size and expertise to run software and services, but has had difficulty with reporting and analytics. Still according to Gartner's Hype Cycle, 40% of organizations considered SumTotal as a potential vendor during their software selection process.

As can be seen by the market leaders, the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model is optimally-suited for learning system deployments due to both the smaller initial financial outlay and the speed of implementation—which in 30% of cases took less than 3 months, says Gartner's Magic Quadrant for Corporate Learning Systems. Further numbers reflect that companies are buying into the idea of the SaaS model with less than 33% of surveyed companies even deploying on-site systems.

CLS Bottom-Line

As companies increasingly look to learning as a weapon to win the war on talent, more functions, more vendors, and more competition will inevitably arise. Just remember that high-quality employee performance will be driven by the quality of the learning. If you are tapping into formal, informal, and social forms of learning and doing it effectively, that is the competitive advantage, not the technology. End

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Gone are the days when headcount was the only metric used to determine the effectiveness of a given development initiative. All three types of learning (formal, informal, and social) occur throughout an organization and Corporate Learning Systems are capturing that—taking on an increasingly holistic outlook on learning that incorporates revenue, CRM, human capital analytics, and talent management."

 

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