As part of Chief Learning Officer magazine’s ongoing coverage of the Learning Technology Special Report, Saba’s founder and CEO Bobby Yazdani sat down to chat about the evolution of the LMS and how it needs to adapt to the changing business environment.
Describe how the industry is evolving.
The industry is at a stage where I remember 10-12 years ago we started to work on LMSes to refer to these systems as registration systems because they were originally designed to register individual e-learning events that were instructor-led. Then the LMSes were also used to manage physical assets, resources, scheduling resources for the delivery of the ILT.
Over the past 10 years, we’ve been able to redefine the LMS to make it more self-service, to bring multiple modalities to the learners — whether it’s [instructor-led] or self-service or self-assessment, virtual learning — all of those things are now enabled in your LMS.
What do you predict the next generation LMS is going to look like?
This is what we’re working on at Saba ... We asked ourselves, what are the key components of this future system and what are the key abstractions of the future system? Our core belief: A combination of formal and informal learning would exist in the future systems.
The formal learning would still support compliance – which is a very important part of any large organization. There are [also times when] organizations believe that certain core competence are the[ir] competitive advantage and they want to instill those competence or skills in the entirety of the organization and they will design formal activity around those core competencies.
In order to increase the speed of development of the organization, in order to increase the speed of change and adoption of change and speed of competitiveness of an organization, the LMS of the future needs to enable a set of other capabilities that would increase the speed of development.
The speed of development in the context of a global organization is multilingual, it’s multicultural, it’s multi-generational, it’s multidiscipline and each generation has its own level of comfort [when it comes to] development ... so we have to accommodate all those complexities in the future of learning management systems.
Can you give an example of one of these core elements that will need to exist in the future LMS?
At Saba, we spend a lot of time thinking about search, because search is an enabler in the development process. I want to be able to search not only on the formal set of content top down, I want to be able to get access to a significant amount of know-how and learning resources and expertise in a bottom-up search capability.
I’m looking for either someone or a set of resources that can help me in a Chinese market, banking sector, wide area network, compliance and the system will come back and say: OK, here’s the people you can talk to; here [are] wikis talking about a particular industry like the banking industry, and what does it mean to be in a banking business in a China market.
Meanwhile, I can get access to a set of classes or nuggets that talk about the core competence that wide area networks as a technology brings to businesses. I can access in a self-service manner all these resources depending on what I’m most comfortable with.
[If] I think people in my world [have the best] know-how [and] I can learn faster, cheaper and with higher impact, then I need to get access to everyone. Searching for a people profile will get me to someone, then within the LMS I want to be able to pull up their profile, see who these people are, see if they’re online, ask for a meeting online. I then want to be able to record the meeting and want to be able to replay it, share it with my team and say, ‘Look, I just talked to this expert — this person has done a similar project in a similar industry. They’ve not done it in China, but they’ve done it in Brazil and I want to know about the idiosyncrasies or the learnings they’ve had’ —and that asset becomes part of the asset of the network. And the system would tokenize it and then when you search it, other people can find it.
Deanna Hartley is a senior editor at Chief Learning Officer magazine. she can be reached at dhartley@CLOmedia.com.