Freedom first: A new era of learning technology provision

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Written by Lars Hyland on 26 September 2018 in Features

For Lars Hyland, the future of the LMS is open.

There is increasing recognition that open technology is very well aligned to meeting the challenges organisations now face in delivering effective workplace learning.

Economic, societal and technological change is accelerating, which places more pressure on employees and other stakeholders to learn new skills and behaviours to maintain performance and productivity. As a consequence, effective workplace learning practices are becoming much more of a strategic differentiator for organisations across all sectors.

Those that recognise this are far more likely to be winners in their chosen markets.

“The way high-performing organisations operate today is radically different from how they operated 10 years ago. Yet many other organisations continue to operate according to industrial age models that are 100 years old or more, weighed down by legacy practices, systems and behaviours that must be confronted and discarded before true change can take hold.

"As organisations become more digital, they face a growing imperative to redesign themselves to move fast, [and] adapt more quickly.” - Deloitte 2017 Global Human Capital Trends Report.

Learning management systems are abundant, but the marketplace is both confusing and frustrating for the buyer.

To respond with agility to accelerating and uncertain change requires a different approach to technology investment. Locked-down, long-term contracts may look like a good deal in the short term, but can in fact put the organisation into strategic straitjacket.

Procurement practice must change

Organisations are waking up to the fact that current procurement practices are not delivering the returns expected. Business needs change faster than the time taken to complete an implementation. Rigid, long-term contracts then mean being locked into functionality that no longer matches the needs of the organisation.

The solution is abandoned and the costly cycle starts again. This is at the heart of many organisations’ dissatisfaction with technology systems, but particularly with their LMS.

“A clear shift in procurement focus towards innovation and value requires an acceleration in the pace of change, especially in leadership, talent and innovation.” - The Global Chief Procurement Officer Survey 2018, Deloitte.

Learning management systems are abundant, but the marketplace is both confusing and frustrating for the buyer. There is very little clarity on how features, pricing models and contracting practices align to meet any one organisation’s needs.

Many platform offers are either too narrow, too broad, too expensive or too inflexible. Combined with the persuasive tactics and unsubstantiated hype of many established software vendors, this typically leads to procurement failure.

Organisations should be empowered rather than beholden to technology vendors.

Freedom is the way forward

Open technology, on the other hand, keeps control within the hands of the organisation rather than the vendor. I have characterised this as four freedoms: the freedom to innovate, the freedom of choice and the freedom to save, which culminates in the freedom to learn and relearn in line with the needs of the business.

  • The freedom to innovate means being able to create and configure your learning platform without compromise. 
  • The freedom of choice recognises that ‘no one size fits all’.
  • The freedom to save arises when adopting open technology results in dramatically lower Total Costs of Ownership - as much as 80% in many cases.

The freedom to innovate, the freedom of choice and the freedom to save all combine to offer a fourth freedom: the freedom to learn. Organisations should be empowered rather than beholden to technology vendors. You are free to implement solutions that are flexible, adaptable and responsive.

Which means you can deliver effective and engaging learning experiences to all your stakeholders, whether they be employees, extended enterprise learners, or increasingly your customers (customer education is the new marketing).

For more on how the learning technology landscape is changing, download the full Four Freedoms ebook here.

An audio interview with Lars will be up on the TJ Soundcloud page later this week. Subscribe here.


About the author

Lars Hyland is chief learning officer of Totara.




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