Enterprise Learning, Friday the 13th

Yesterday we had Friday the 13th, a full moon, and 13 panelists at the monthly meeting of eLearning Forum. Nonetheless, it was the best session we've ever had. More than a hundred people listened as a dozen prominent enterprise software and LMS vendors joined researcher Sam Adkins to talk about where enterprise learning is headed in the next 24 months.

I am a very happy camper. The discussion yesterday, which we'll make available as video, notes, reports, charts, and photographs, should shed light in a previously dark corner of our industry, thus accelerating the adoption of eLearning. This is the mission of eLearning Forum:

  • Promote understanding and use of eLearning in industry and government worldwide
  • Provide a forum for resolving issues impeding the progress of eLearning
  • Identify and publicize new developments and emerging best practices
  • Host a global virtual conversation of vital eLearning issues

We couldn't have picked a hairier topic. Enterprise integration is a rapidly moving target. It has been unclear whether ERP and LMS systems are symbiotic or competitive. Just talking about learning in the zero-latency enterprise requires mastering a sea of new acronyms: SCM, CRM, KPI, BPI, SOAP, UDDI, W3C, PLM. PDM, EDM, SFO, WFM, BPM, BAM, CPM, WPM, BI, CA, HCM, UKM, ERM, LCMS, ECM, PA, ECM (again), and more. Behind each set of initials is a company or group that's changing things almost daily. Standards are in flux. All these puzzle-pieces eventually have to fit together in a real-time system, riddled with learning at every junction. Our objective was to clarify where all this is headed and what it means in three and a half hours yesterday.

Today my brain still hurts from grappling with this stuff, but we managed to pull it off. We'll document the proceedings on eLearning Forum so what you'll read here is color commentary.

Here's the panel. Sam Adkins is standing. From the top are Chris Pirie (Oracle), Tobin Gilman (Docent), Amar Dhaliwal (THINQ), Ed Cohen (Plateau), Harry West (SAP), Stephen Burke (Knowledge Planet), Becky Mason (PeopleSoft), Mark Nation (Siebel Systems), Tamer Ali (VCampus), Grant Ricketts (Saba Software), Dale Cline (Knowledge Products), and Ashwani Sirohi (Click2learn). These companies, as well as IBM, Sun, and others had been recognized as "Pioneers of Learning Innovation" in Sam's extensive research project, Simulation in the Enterprise, The Convergence of eLearning, Simulation and Enterprise Applications.

Sam and I knew from the outset that we would need a solid model for the session if we were to keep things on track. OD sophisticates that we are, we fell back on the set-up and roles of the Mel Gibson/Danny Glover movie Lethal Weapon. Sam would play the good cop, and I, the crazy cop. In addition, Jerry Neece was our timekeeper. At the start of the session, panelists had up to three minutes to answer a question. This was reduced to 30 seconds in the final rounds. This kept the discussion focused. To my utter amazement, we hit every one of our timing marks on the nose.

I'd asked all the participants to check their guns at the door, but these companies had never been under one roof before and we were risking the possibility of a major catfight. Yesterday PeopleSoft rejected Oracle's $5 billion hostile takeover bid and sued Oracle for unfair trade practices. J.D. Edwards, contending that Oracle is messing with its proposed merger with PeopleSoft, sued Oracle for $1.7 billion. Professionalism won the day, we confined the conversation to eLearning, and reason prevailed.

 



Sam Adkins
Samadico

Evolution of enterprise elearning --> Workflow-based eLearning

Key trends in eLearning:

* Ubiquity
* Collaboration
* Integration

Functional areas of the extended enterprise that elearning programs must serve:

* Product management
* Resource management
* Process management
* Colloboration management

Ashwani Sirohi
Click2learn
User collaboration and personalization will be key.
Amar Dhaliwal
Thinq

eLearning technologies are now very mature, but customers still have a very unsophisticated understanding of how to use them -- especially analytic functionality.

Make sure you develop a working understanding of the web service features and benefits, because the model WILL have a big impact on elearning technology delivery.

It's questionable whether enterprise software vendors have the expertise to serve existing "best of breed" customers.

SCORM is here to stay. The onus is on vendors to make it work -- not customers or content developers.

Harry West
SAP

As outsourcing is taking off in HR, it will do so in elearning.

As a large enterprise software vendor, SAP depends upon "best of breed" practices and standards for product development strategy.

Limited bandwidth is often a variable influencing purchasing decisions.

Becky Mason
PeopleSoft

Learning is now becoming a more important focus than training in training departments.

"What" is delivered to the learner is more important than "how".

"I'd like to hear what the audience has to say about all this."

Mark Nation
Siebel Systems

Training managers are beholden to demonstrate how elearning programs impact performance and productivity.

Key performance indicators (KPI) are being used much more regularly by workers to plan and for managers to assess. eLearning solutions direct this critical need.

Web services is more of a competitive driver for "best of breed" rather than larger enterprise software vendors.

Competency management capability is critical, and requires personalization for learner to work.

Tamer Ali
VCampus

Training managers need to reposition themselves as IT experts, and ensure influence over the architecture of eLearning technologies.

Trainers must be choreographers.

Grant Ricketts
Saba

Training people should focus on alligning their priorities with the core business segments served by elearning programs -- customers, sales, channels, strategic partners, OEMs, distributors, manufacturers/assemblers, & standard groups.

CEOs are geniunely concerned about the competency and skills of their workforce.

Innovation is still driven by "best of breed" vendors.

Corporate clients with a global presence have a very organized picture of local needs, and vendors have to find out how to access it.

Dale Cline
Knowledge Products

The opportunity for "best of breed" vendors is in the middle-tier solution market.

Nobody is doing personalization (role-based filtering), but delivering that functionality will be critical to compete in the future.

 

Ed Cohen
Plateau

Training managers need to position elearning services as a profit center.

SCORM will become less significant as solution vendors transparently embed meta-data generation into their technologies.

Many customers demand competency management functionality, but very few of them end up using it.

Stephen Burke
Knowledge Planet

Training departments are looking at outsourcing non-core activities.

Critical that workers can assess how they are performing relative to their peers, partners, & customers.

"Best of breed" vendors must differentiate themselves as innovators and rapid responders to changing customer needs in order to survive.

 

Tobin Gilman
Docent
In order to become a core business process, elearning solutions need to be able to integrate and make sense of information stored and processed in other enterprise databases and applications.
Chris Pirie
Oracle

Instructional design is becoming more important than innovative technology in elearning. Training people should focus on that area -- their area -- of expertise.

HR outsources because of the "self-service" functionality offered by third-party vendors. The "self-service" idea will also have a big impact on the elearning space.

The great challenge for elearning software vendors is to enable training managers to leverage the intelligence and analytics produced by ERP solutions.

It's more important for training departments to focus on the process of teaching rather than learning.

You can't compete as a vendor unless you have the capability to localize your solutions.


Jay Cross
Internet Time Group

Aside from KPI (key performance indicators), what's important for us to know and keep track of? Web services, enterprise integration, content management, collaboration, social network analysis, business process modeling....

Watch out! "Competency" is a slippery term. Like "Knowledge Management," it means whatever you want it to mean.

At our Learning Object Symposium last year, netG's Brendan Towle pointed out that you could string together all the movie objects you could find, but you'd never end up with Citizen Kane.

I encourage you to join eLearning Forum. It's free. We're quite open. Put yourself on our email list and you're in. Put it on your resume. Volunteer to help us out and you can put that on your resume, too.

Photographs by Jim Schuyler

Sources of quotes: Alex Gault's real-time notes

From ThnkEquity's Knowledge Notes Record attendance at eLearning Forum’s LMS symposium Last Friday, we attended a symposium of major enterprise software vendors hosted by the Silicon Valley-based eLearning Forum. An all-star panel of product managers representing Click2learn, Docent, Global Knowledge, Oracle, KnowledgePlanet, PeopleSoft, Plateau Systems, Saba Software, SAP, Siebel, Thinq, and VCampus ensured record attendance at the Microsoft campus in Mountain View. Topics addressed by the panel included the future role of learning management systems within the broader enterprise software market; the evolution of enterprise learning within organizations; integration, globalization, and consolidation trends in the enterprise software market; corporate purchasing patterns; and customer demands. In addition, we had several one-on-one conversations with attendees and sensed great enthusiasm for the market potential of LMS products and strong strategic commitment to the category by large and small vendors alike. All of the vendors represented offer learning management functionality within their application suites, both as a standalone product and as part of a fully integrated platform. All the participants expressed their belief in accelerating demand for LMS functionality, driven by the desire for workflow optimization and its ability to drive down training costs. We were unconvinced by the happy assertions of room for all and left with the continued impression that the larger vendors lag the best-of-breed players significantly in terms of functionality.
Posted by Jay Cross at June 14, 2003 06:23 PM | TrackBack
Comments

Great coverage, fascinating reading.

Posted by: Stephen Downes at June 14, 2003 08:59 PM

Unfortunately I was unable to attend.

Having been away from training for quite a few years, this article is an eye-opener even thought I have not stop keeping an eye on e-learning and learning at large.

What I find interesting is, the focus still seems to be delivering. How about the receiving?

How about languages? How flexible is that? A global company might have an official language. Reality is the people who actually have to learn the materials might not have the competency (yes...competency) to take advantage of the material because he/she was born with a different mother tongue than English?? Having worked for a global company, witnessing the misery created by being ignorant of this simple fact is tough to accept. As both trainer and training manager, I saw this abuse over and over again in different countries. On one occasion I had to put together a local team just to deliver a much needed skills/knowledge for a certain region. To plug the big gap that the training organisation was impotent to do anything effective. Saw the same problem in China, Korea. These otherwise excellent engineers, often time, were made to feel incompetence just because nobody take note of the language barrier.

An excellent engineer don't mean this same person should be a genius in languages.

We cannot expect everyone to have the same level of competency in English (I myself was not born English speaker). If we want to think global, think language. That is one of the most basic feature of a human. Again I see the same pattern, we seems to forget, the receiving end is still is a ‘human’ that peck away on a computer key-board, or taking down notes with pen and pencil.

English speakers have to start taking notes of others that don't. Unable to utter/read/write English fluently don't mean their want and needs are any different than us who do.

Another interesting panel would be 13 panellists from 13 countries.

Cindy

Posted by: Cindy Lemcke-Hoong at June 17, 2003 03:27 AM

Unfortunately I was unable to attend.

Having been away from training for quite a few years, this article is an eye-opener even thought I have not stop keeping an eye on e-learning and learning at large.

What I find interesting is, the focus still seems to be delivering. How about the receiving?

How about languages? How flexible is that? A global company might have an official language. Reality is the people who actually have to learn the materials might not have the competency (yes...competency) to take advantage of the material because he/she was born with a different mother tongue than English?? Having worked for a global company, witnessing the misery created by being ignorant of this simple fact is tough to accept. As both trainer and training manager, I saw this abuse over and over again in different countries. On one occasion I had to put together a local team just to deliver a much needed skills/knowledge for a certain region. To plug the big gap that the training organisation was impotent to do anything effective. Saw the same problem in China, Korea. These otherwise excellent engineers, often time, were made to feel incompetence just because nobody take note of the language barrier.

An excellent engineer don't mean this same person should be a genius in languages.

We cannot expect everyone to have the same level of competency in English (I myself was not born English speaker). If we want to think global, think language. That is one of the most basic feature of a human. Again I see the same pattern, we seems to forget, the receiving end is still is a ‘human’ that peck away on a computer key-board, or taking down notes with pen and pencil.

English speakers have to start taking notes of others that don't. Unable to utter/read/write English fluently don't mean their want and needs are any different than us who do.

Another interesting panel would be 13 panellists from 13 countries.

Cindy

Posted by: Cindy Lemcke-Hoong at June 17, 2003 03:27 AM

Cindy's right. Language is a problem many people simply prefer to ignore. And on top of language is culture. The way people "relate" to training events and training content will vary according to their culture. This will have an impact on the efficacy of training. If we are only focusing on delivering content, we will be working with a "care package" mentality, rather than one that, as most of us hope (deep down inside), opens new horizons and choices.


If we really feel we want to provide services for "human resources" and not just shrink-wrapped products for those "resources" to consume and then be judged by, we need to take into account who the learner is, where she comes from, how she thinks, what semantic systems are at play and how the learning experience is related to the rest of her professional life. OK, if the tools are doing their job, it's up to those who are using the tools to make sure the nurturing job of training is being done as well. Ali's right. Trainers must be choreographers. I would say, cultural choreographers. And Ashwani, by putting the emphasis on collaboration and personalization is on target. If we recognize that, we need to come back to Cindy's point that respect for language and culture have to be built into the process.

Peter Isackson
Didaxis, France

Posted by: Peter Isackson at June 18, 2003 10:53 PM

30 Poppy Lane
Berkeley, California 94708

1.510.528.3105 (office & cell)



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