When It Comes To Performance Support, The Cloud Changes Everything

April 24, 2013

 I am incredibly excited to announce that yesterday afternoon, at the Bersin by Deloitte research conference, IMPACT 2013: The Business of Talent, Xyleme was recognized for winning the prestigious WhatWorks® Award in the Delivering Innovation category.

Mark Hellinger, Xyleme President & CEO, was on hand to accept the award for Bravais, our cloud-based content delivery solution that enables personalized learning anytime, anywhere and on any device. I’m absolutely thrilled. We’ve made it a top priority to invest heavily in new product development and cement our reputation for being on the leading edge of innovation. We are awed to be joining industry leaders such as Merck, Accenture, Marriot, Citi, among many others in accepting this honor.

This is actually Xyleme’s second prestigious honor for Bravais by a top analyst firm since it was introduced about a year and a half ago. (Bravais also won Brandon Hall Excellence in Technology Gold for Best Advance in Performance Support). So what’s causing all the excitement around the Bravais cloud solution? Let’s explore the concept of cloud services to find out.

According to Gartner, the personal cloud has ushered in a new era that:

“Provides users with a new level of flexibility with devices they use for daily activities, while leveraging the strengths of each device, ultimately enabling new levels of user satisfaction and delivery.”

Gartner identifies a set of “megatrends” that have converged to allow people to leverage the cloud and use computing in fundamentally new ways that improve multiple aspects of their work and personal lives.

Megatrend: The Consumerization of IT
According the Gartner, the rise of powerful and affordable mobile devices coupled with social media have combined to create a democratization of technology, where users of all types now how similar technology available to them. This has emboldened users, made them more technologically savvy and dramatically changed their expectations of technology. And today, learner expectations are dramatically different than they were only a few years ago. This notion of content in the cloud is that the content is personal. Newly emboldened learners are demanding that monolithic, one-size-fits-all courses give way to small nuggets of learning that are personal to them, relevant to their task at hand, and participatory in terms of rating and feedback.

Learning content made available at the point-of-need is personal when it is based on a learner’s individual profile: their job role, their history and their learning preferences. The content is made relevant when it’s easy to find and contextual to the location of the learner and their task at hand. Finally, it’s participatory when the learning community is given the opportunity to participate in learning content development via comments and ratings of individual pieces of content (e.g. topics, procedures) to drive continuous improvement.

Megatrend: “App-ification”
The way that applications are designed, delivered and consumed by users has changed dramatically as large enterprise applications give way to small user experience (UX) apps that adjust to the unique characteristics of a specific device or scenario. Therefore, the Learning & Development organizations needs to start thinking about learning as an app-driven experience, rather than a course-driven one.

All throughout the enterprise, business units and various functions will be creating numerous apps that are singularly focused – for example, how to diagnose a problem for a piece of machinery. But, users will also going to need access to learning content that tells them more – for example what is the procedure to fix the problem they just diagnosed?

The question is: how are we going to make that training content available? The status quo is that we continue to make the LMS the center of the training universe and force users to log in and attempt to find the appropriate course that contains that information they need. We can also keep ourselves siloed and try to create our own set of learning apps, much like we tried to create our own separate set of social learning networks. Or, we can finally institutionalize learning content and make it available through the apps that already exist within the organization and therefore weave L&D into the fabric of the enterprise.

Megatrend: The Ever-Available Self-Service Cloud
Gartner contends that the advent of the cloud for servicing individual users means that their digital activities are far more self-directed than ever before. Users now demand to make their own choices about the applications, services and content they access. This encourages a culture of self-service that users expect in all aspects of their digital experiences.

It is this self-service cloud that that has finally enabled the concept of pull learning to create next generation performance support apps. However, this first and foremost demands that training organizations finally disaggregate their monolithic training assets into consumable nuggets that can be made instantly available.

When training content moves from large courses to semantically rich nuggets of information such as videos, figures, topics, lessons and assessment questions, a whole host of specialized Performance Support apps can now be created to match an organization’s own unique way of working. Self-service features such as granular search let users dig deep inside content to rapidly find the “molecule” of content they need. Users can choose the formats (e.g. video vs. detailed text) that match their own personal learning styles and they can mash-up these nuggets and render them to any device to create a unique learning experience on-demand.

Megatrend: The Mobility Shift — Wherever and Whenever You Want
Today, mobile devices combined with the cloud can fulfill most computing tasks, and Gartner argues that any tradeoffs are outweighed in the minds of the user by the convenience and flexibility provided by this mobility. At any point in time, and depending on the scenario, any given device will take on the role of the user's primary device, be it a PC, smartphone or tablet.

This rocks the Learning & Development world because it fundamentally changes the way learning content is developed, and the challenge will be to make content development a strategic initiative, much like it is in most other functions of the organization. Doing it the way we have done in the past by using rapid authoring tools that can now output to mobile is not going to drive relevance, it is not going to flow seamlessly across all devices, and it's not going to be accessible through the apps that your learners use every day.

Get ready, because in the very near future, there will be no such thing as eLeaning, or mobile learning or web-based learning. These terms will go away because users do not segment their learning by device. They simply want information, and that information is going to get accessed through whatever device we have at hand at the time of need. It’s just learning!

Gartner tells us that the rise of the cloud will require enterprises to fundamentally rethink how they deliver applications and services to users. Is your training organization ready?

Watch the video below to get an insider view of how Bravais embraces all the trends above, as well as delivers next-gen Performance Support. 


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