Thursday, December 03, 2009

SAP, Sharepoint or specialist LMS?

The following is a response I recently posted to a question on the LSG discussion site concerning the use of SAP or Sharepoint as an LMS versus "well-known" LMS products (in the case of the question, he cited Moodle and Kallidus). Thought the response might be of interest to a broader community ...

The short answer is "depends on what you want to do with your LMS"! Or "horses for courses" as the saying goes.

In our experience, the selection of an ERP LMS solution (SAP, Oracle, PeopleSoft) tends to be driven by strategic IT issues rather than functional fit or the needs of learners or L&D. Whilst the SAP Enterprise Learning platform continues to improve in functionality, there is still a functional gap vs best of breed platforms. There is also a tendancy for ERP platforms to be positioned as "effectively free" as the organisation has already committed to the HR platform. This is highly misleading as there is typically an incremental license for the LMS (e.g. for SAP EL over and above SAP HR), and the implementation costs for the ERP LMS are typically larger than best of breed alternatives.

There is a lot of interest in portal-led learning solutions currently, and the integration of LMS functionality into Sharepoint is becoming a common question. Currently we would not consider either the SLK or Sharepoint LMS as an enterprise class option. That doesn't mean you shouldn't consider them, just that you need to be very clear they will meet your specific tactical requirements as they are unlikely to meet the common requirements of a corporate standard LMS platform. Our concern currently is that a corporates will get sucked into creating custom LMS solutions in Sharepoint; a strategy we certainly wouldn't recommend (with any portal platform).

Interestingly you then refer to well-known LMSs such as Moodle or Kallidus. Kallidus is clearly a corporate LMS that has historically been successful in mid-tier companies, and is increasingly winning business in larger enterprises as well.

Moodle is not however really an LMS. It is (in academic speak) a Virtual Learning Environment or Course Management System. We have recently completed specific research on the relevance of Moodle to the corporate market (results to hopefully be published in the new year). Whilst Moodle can provide an effective e-learning launch and track platform, it needs significant customisation or add-on functionality to fulfil the role of a corporate LMS. A number of companies (e.g. Aardpress, Kineo, Remote Learner etc.) have developed extensions to do this, but in our research through corporate Moodle adopters, we really struggled to find good examples of companies using Moodle as an enterprise LMS.

Hope this is helpful. Happy to discuss further offline if you want to email me (

Regards, David.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

The E-learning Debate - An Inside View

On the 30th September 2009, David was a main speaker in the E-learning Debate at the Oxford Union, alongside Professor Diana Laurillard, Marc Rosenberg and others. The motion: “This house believes that the elearning of today is essential for the important skills of tomorrow”.

It's already clear from many conversations after the event, and in the days since, that this event
has really captured the imagination of many people in the UK e-learning industry. And the result on the day was very interesting: 90 for the motion, 144 against.

Here are David's thoughts on the debate itself and its implications.

Monday, May 18, 2009

SaaS Webinar - Link to Archive

Here is a link to the archived webinar featuring David's discussion of the impact of SaaS on learning & talent systems research:

(updated link)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

SaaS Core Insights paper announcement

Elearnity examines Software-as-a-Service impact on Learning & Talent Systems
Elearnity | Cirencester, UK

14-May-2009 » Training Press Releases » Elearnity, Europe's leading Corporate Learning Analyst, today announced its latest research on the impact of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) on the Learning & Talent Systems market.

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), the provision of software applications as an Internet service, has become a major force in the business applications market. This Elearnity Core Insights paper explores the growing impact of SaaS on applications for managing and delivering learning and talent processes within a corporate environment.

"Software-as-a-Service is a very relevant approach for Learning & Talent Systems and we are seeing rapid growth in its adoption in both the Enterprise and Mid-tier markets.", said David Wilson, Managing Director of Elearnity. "Our research highlights the benefits and barriers of SaaS for corporates, and explores these specifically in the context of Learning & Talent Systems."

The research paper looks at the evolution and specific drivers/barriers for SaaS Learning & Talent Systems. It also provides guidance and key questions for corporates to ask internally when considering SaaS Learning & Talent solutions, as well as a checklist of questions to ask to potential suppliers.

"The benefits of SaaS are particularly attractive in the current economic climate, but not all SaaS solutions are suitable for large complex organisations." said Wilson. "Overall, Elearnity expects SaaS to grow significantly as a proportion of the market, and pressure on vendors to offer more scalable Enterprise-class SaaS solutions."

The SaaS paper is available immediately for download from Elearnity's Knowledge Centre at along with other Elearnity research papers and presentations


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

E-learning anarchy

The following is a response to a question raised about how to deal with the problem of fragmented and uncontrolled procurement of e-learning within a distributed organisation. Thought it was worth adding here to ... DAVID

This has historically been a common problem, and often leads to the appointment of a central resource to support and coordinate e-learning related purchases, as well as to own the associated technical standards and sometimes the platform (e.g. LMS) they will be run on. In terms of resolving your issues - you probably need to think about it at three different levels.

1) Technical Standards - Nearly every major corporate we work with has had to put in place a technical standards document that is enforced via the procurement process. This includes: e-learning standards for compatibility with your LMS or deployment platform (AICC, SCORM 1.2, 2004 etc), technical standards for your IT environment - browser/script/java/plugin restrictions etc and network and other restictions (e.g. bandwidth), other integration requirements and so on. Will also probably include requirements for new suppliers in terms of provision of sample test content to prove LMS compatibility, as well as any associated release or delivery requirements for the content - i.e. the rules of engagement for the vendor.

2) E-learning Project Process - a standard process to be used by all parts of the organisation to facilitate e-learning projects. The aim of this is to better qualify projects and investments in e-learning, and to take them through some standard steps to help ensure the success of the projects. This could include which suppliers have already been vetted - some guidelines on procurement, guidelines on project planning and initiation etc, and (very importantly) guidelines on assurance, testing and deployment. This will help ensure projects are managed more effectively. Frequently the implementation of such a process will involve advisory support from a central e-learning advisor or team depending on the scale of the organisation. Whilst responsibility for e-learning may be devolved into the fragmented L&D operation - e-learning expertise is generally not unless an organisation becomes very e-centric and even then it still needs to rest with a few people (in reality).

3) Governance - as you have highlighted, a decentralised procurement of e-learning solutions leads to failed projects as the expertise is absent to make them successful, and basic issues of suitability, design, and deployability go out the window. Centralising all responsibility for e-learning can be a good strategy in the short term, but is frequently a bad answer long term as it fundamentally keeps it in the ivory tower. Delegating responsibility for e-learning without some form of governance and process leads to anarchy. As a minimum, you need to have some standards for projects and potential suppliers (see above), and also cross-visibility of existing solutions and suppliers across the business. Over time, this ideally would lead some form of governance network to maximise the value of what you already have and to stop reinventing the wheel 15 times in different parts of the business. Governance should also foster and facilitate innovation on a coordinated basis - innovation in terms of approach and of suppliers etc.

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS): the Impact on Learning & Talent Systems

A Webinar featuring David Wilson, of Elearnity, will explore how investing in Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)-based talent management solutions is helping organisations increase productivity and ensure high performers are engaged, developed, connected and retained – while also lowering costs. The complimentary session, sponsored by Cornerstone OnDemand, is entitled “Software-as-a-Service (SaaS): the Impact on Learning & Talent Systems” and is scheduled for Thursday, 14th May from 3pm to 4pm GMT.

According to analyst firm Gartner, the global enterprise market for SaaS will rise by nearly 22 percent in 2009, as companies turn to Web-based applications as a way to reduce costs during the economic downturn. This includes increased adoption of on-demand human capital management applications by organisations seeking economical yet effective ways for managing and developing employees.

David Wilson, Elearnity’s founder and Managing Director, commented, “SaaS is having a significant impact on the learning and talent systems market, both for enterprise customers, as well as the mid-tier market. We also see it as being particularly attractive in the current economic climate.”

Learning and human resources (HR) leaders participating in Thursday’s Webinar will:

  • Discover why leading organisations are turning to SaaS to accelerate change and deliver more value for the business from their learning and talent systems

  • Explore specific HR business drivers – including cost/time savings, scalability and flexibility – that make SaaS a superior technology option

  • Learn the key questions to ask when considering potential SaaS-based learning and talent solutions

During the session, Wilson will preview analysis and recommendations from Elearnity’s latest research. Elearnity’s research and analysis focuses on the key innovations challenging corporate learning organisations, including e-learning and blended learning, learning management strategy and systems, the impact of learning and increasing value-add, and integrating learning with human capital and performance. Elearnity’s research process is designed to develop deeper insights into corporate realities and best practice, and an independent understanding of vendor capabilities and performance.

To register for the Webinar, visit:

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Impact of SaaS on Learning & Talent Systems

On 14th May, David will be previewing a new Elearnity research paper on the impact of Software-as-a-Service on Learning & Talent Systems at a Webinar hosted by Cornerstone OnDemand.

Click here for more information and to register for the event. The paper will be made available after the webinar.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Learning 2.0 - Video

Here is an online version of the learning 2.0 video I showed at the Learning Technologies conference at the end of January.

Its originally based on the slides created by Daniel Siddle content but with some additions and then rendered via Animoto. I showed the better quality MPEG4 version at the conference - email me if you want a link to it.


Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Learning Technologies on the Rise

The Learning Technologies conference and exhibition still continues to be the best learning technology and e-learning event to attend in the UK. Hosted at Olympia in London last week, the conference was the largest yet, and the exhibition was sold out and seemed pretty consistently busy (at least whenever I was on the floor).

Here is a link to trainingzone's view of the conference, and Training Journal's view of the show overall.

LT is always a busy event for us and this year was no exception with a number of meetings and vendor briefing updates, plus the usual time hunting out new companies and products. Overall, I think it was a good show and it was heartening (especially for the vendors) to see the level of activity and interest despite the current economic doom and gloom!

My session in the conference on LMS 2.0 subtitled "Does the LMS have a place in a web 2.0 world?" seemed to be received positively, and I have already had a few requests for our animoto remix of Daniel Siddle's "Meet Charlotte". The slides have just been uploaded onto our knowledge centre.

PS. The LMS 2.0 topic is an area of ongoing research for us and happy to receive any thoughts or ideas, or links to relevant research or product information. Please email us at our incoming news feed