Elearning! September

2014

Elearning! Magazine: Building Smarter Companies via Learning & Workplace Technologies.

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7 Questions for… …CHIP RAMSEY, CEO AND PRESIDENT, INTELLUM WHY DO YOU THINK ENTERPRISE SOFTWARE — AND LEARNING SOFTWARE IN PARTICULAR — NEEDS TO BE REFORMED? Let's start with the enterprise sofware business model, which requires buyers to pay large maintenance fees and extra dollars for implementation, customization, and sometimes even training. Tis is a model that actually rewards sofware companies for poorly designed sofware that's difcult to integrate and implement — and ofen a challenge to use. Because learning-related sofware typically touches every employee in an organization, it should be as simple to learn and use as an iPhone app. Companies shouldn't be paying for functionality that they don't need. But when they do want to add a feature set, it should be as easy as downloading another new app — with no special integration work needed. BECAUSE OF ITS VERY COMPLEXITY, WHY ISN'T MORE FUNCTIONALITY BETTER? In many cases, the sofware is overly complex. Over the decades, customers have bought into the men- tality that more is better, and buyers are conditioned to pay for upgrades with new features — whether they need them or not. Tere's so much pressure to continually add new features that little thought is given to how these features are implemented or their impact on the user experience. Too ofen, the re- sult is monolithic, cumbersome sofware that is painful to use. And that's before you add in sofware acquired through mergers or acquisitions, which is almost never built on the same platform or with the same standards. In the neverending quest to be bigger and out-feature competitors, most enterprise sofware developers sell systems that are composed of multiple products picked up over the last 5 to 10 years. ARE CORPORATE BUYERS WILLING TO GIVE UP SOME FUNCTIONALITY TO GAIN SIMPLICITY AND EASE OF USE? In many cases, yes. Take Outlook as an example. Te sofware is so stufed with features — many of which are never used by the typical user — that it routinely crashes. I know of many businesses — in- cluding ours — that have moved from Outlook to much simpler email, calendar and contact managers. Tese straightforward applications save money, reduce support needs, and actually do their jobs better. Te huge popularity of apps shows the power of simplicity. Tese tools are designed to do one thing and do it very well. HOW DO YOU SEE ALL OF THIS AFFECTING LEARNING TECHNOLOGY? New learning-related systems and tools are being designed with much simpler, more usable interfaces. It's becoming easier for employees to share information and for SMEs to create content. In fact, we have customers who are now relying on their own created content and content curated from the Web for most of their training. We're also seeing more adoption of social-based learning. While there's still wariness in some organizations, many companies are embracing social platforms for ongoing learn- ing, for activities and collaboration around training initiatives or onboarding, or even to supplant email. One of our customers has more than 20,000 feld reps on Tribe Social and sees countless examples of employees helping each other answer questions and get needed information. Te company uses Tribe for all corporate communications. But I also foresee a change in the way we interact with enterprise systems. If you look at the applications that are really gaining user traction these days, they're all about facilitat- ing more natural communication. Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram — all of these systems are simple to use, designed around a well-defned, somewhat limited set of fea- tures, and give their users easy and efcient ways to communicate and share with others. Leader's View Elearning! September / October 2012 15

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