Learning to let go - why proprietary learning technology is no longer fit for purpose

Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM, right? That’s been a longstanding axiom of technology buyers and has been generalised to describe the decision-making bias of choosing the larger, more established option - not because of any real intrinsic quality, but just because it's the larger, more established option. Much of this is rooted in FUD - fear, uncertainty and doubt - which software companies over the decades have used to build sales tactics and marketing campaigns to keep customers tamed and prospects following the beFUDdled herd.

But we live in an age where FUD is constantly all around us. Our reactions to it are blunted further as markets are disrupted, economies undermined, and political establishments destabilised. Consequently, the platform on which traditional technology vendors approach their markets has become a burning one. Anyone seriously looking for a strategically viable way forward for their software investments must realise that the status quo can longer suffice. You have to learn to let go.

Totara Learn LMS

Let go of what?

When it comes to software purchasing - and in particular learning technology purchasing decisions - letting go means:

Avoiding unjustified long term contracts to make a ‘short-term saving’

In a technology market that is moving at pace, and economy that demands your business needs to be able to spin on a dime to stay competitive, that short term saving quickly morphs into a strategic blind alley.

No longer using proprietary technology that you cannot control

If you can’t predict the future neither than your software vendor. There is increasing probability that with accelerated change, the software you depend on now will no longer be available to you. This can be for a variety of reasons:

  • The software vendor runs out of money, pivots to offer a solution you don’t want or need, or gets bought and closed down. All you can do is wave goodbye to your investment and start again.
  • The software fails to develop and innovate at the pace or in the direction needed by your business. You are left frustrated and face an ever more disengaged audience of users, stakeholders and upset customers of your own.
  • Your data is happily sitting in the cloud within a black-box application service - until it is no longer happy when you find you cannot integrate with your other systems as fully as you expected, or that you cannot extract your data sufficiently to move to another platform or to take your data in-house. Sorry, you are stuck.

Not overpaying for bloated software licences

Surely it would be better to know that your software investment is primarily focused on delivering a fully fit for purpose solution that will transform the productivity and capabilities of your organisation. Too often you pay significant sums for functionality that you don’t want or need.

In short, closed, proprietary systems purposefully encourage technology lock-in. All to ensure long term customers and revenues while at the same time discouraging innovation. Well, you can’t leave can you? But this is very dangerous and damaging for your company as outdated technology reduces productivity, decreases staff morale and leads to increased employee turnover. Enough already.

From FUD to freedom

With a world moving at increased velocity and subject to unparalleled levels of uncertainty whichever way you turn, the one thing you CAN do is take control over your software future.

Adopting open technology means open innovation with you in control.

You may have previously been faced with some outdated and misplaced views about open technology. That it is insecure, ineffective and costly to maintain. None of these need be the case if an open platform has professional support and a vibrant expert community on which you can lean on and collaborate with in line with your business needs.

At Totara, we are passionate about giving the learning technology professional community the control back over their investments. Learning technology is playing an ever more central and strategic role in giving organisations and their people the edge needed to be competitive and thrive in turbulent and unpredictable waters. The full benefits can only be reaped if you join an open technology community that is united around aggregating solutions to shared problems and functional requirements that arise for everyone, while still retaining full individual control over your own business needs to differentiate and innovate at the pace and direction that best suits you.

With this model, not only do you have full, transparent access to your software AND data, you can choose to move it from one supporting partner to another, take it fully in-house, downsize, scale up, integrate, extend - whatever is best for your business. A better solution for a much lower cost of ownership.

Out goes fear, uncertainty and doubt. In comes confidence, agility and freedom. The freedom to innovate, the freedom to save, the freedom to choose - ultimately, giving your people the freedom to learn and perform efficiently and effectively. And that’s all we want our learning technology investments to do, right?

This post originally appeared on Lars Hyland's LinkedIn.

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