What’s the matter with Learning Management Systems? They’re not disposible

A couple of weeks ago I responded to some questions by clients on learning management systems. LMS frustrations continue, and so I feel compelled to write some more.

Yesterday I was listening to the podcast Duct Tape Marketing, episode entitled If you still think the customer is king (Nov 16, 2011). John Jantsch was interviewing Aaron Shapiro. The argument was that users are the new decision makers. There was a brief mention of technology lifecycles and ERP systems.

The comments rang true for Learning Management Systems. The interface between organisations and customers (and organisations and staff) are so often not customer-friendly because it’s the technology that is dictating and shaping the relationship. Because that’s the way the technology works, then that becomes the defining factor of not only the process but the relationship as well.

Anyone who has a small business and a small business website knows that websites have a short shelf life (I’ve had 3 in 5 years). Design and functionality options are always evolving. Copy needs to be rewritten often to align with customer interests and language etc. John and Aaron spoke about the requirement for organisations to make a philosophical shift in the way they think about technology, or it will affect their ability to work efficiently and competitively.

John & Aaron said we need to think about technology software as disposable. This is because technology is evolving so rapidly, and consumer/staff expectations and needs are evolving so rapidly. A $100+k, 4 year investment is unlikely to match future requirements – it probably barely meets current requirements and expectations.

Here lies my frustration with learning management systems. They are so often expensive, tightly interwoven with other systems, clunky and not user friendly.

To this end, I encourage my clients to think about LMS that are agile, web-based, software as a service models. Our LMS requirements in 2011 will be so different to requirements in 2014 – because of new learning technologies and the evolution of our own learning strategy. It is not in the nature of ERP systems (their integration and lifecycle) to have the agility we need as our requirements evolve.

I’d love to read your thoughts on this statement.

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