Work and learning are rapidly converging, according to research released today by Internet Time Group. "Enterprise technology is in the midst of an accelerating process of integration and convergence. Previously distinct product categories are being assimilated into integrated enterprise application suites. SAP, IBM, Oracle, Sun, Siebel and PeopleSoft all added eLearning to their suites in the last year." So says Sam Adkins, author of "Simulation in the Enterprise," the 375-page road map to the next wave of eLearning released in early September.

Adkins foresees three watershed developments in learning:

  • Migration away from courseware as a corporate performance improvement method
  • Fusion of skills, knowledge and affective learning in workflow applications
  • Integration of contextual collaboration and Web Services technologies with learning technology

"Courses are nearly dead. Real-time learning is starting to support getting the job done. Workers will learn what they need when they need it," says Jay Cross, Adkins' publisher and CEO of Internet Time Group. "This is not science fiction; it's happening right now," he says. "Standalone eLearnin's heyday is over."
This summer, Sam and Jay talked with an unlikely group of panelists in a session of the eLearning Forum. For the first time anywhere, the major enterprise vendors (e.g., PeopleSoft, Oracle, Sun, Siebel, SAP) and the top LMS vendors (e.g. Docent, Saba, Plateau, Click2Learn, etc.) came together under one roof to discuss the future of eLearning in the extended enterprise. The issue was not whether eLearning would be integrated into enterprise systems, but how soon; it wasn't whether LMS would become enmeshed in enterprise Webs – but how.

Author Sam Adkins is well-positioned to see the big picture. In his eight years at Microsoft, he worked with the leading research vendors in the industry. He forecast training channel trends and performed advanced product research on nascent developments with the potential to impact the eLearning market. Previously, Sam built the world's first commercial online university, known as the Microsoft Online Institute.

Adkins' extensive new reports map the correspondences between enterprise technology, instructional simulation, learning design, Balanced Scorecard, Six Sigma and ISO9001:2000.

He describes why integrated business application suites are superior to point solutions. These suites contain not only eLearning but also business process management, business intelligence, content management and, increasingly, live collaboration.

Chief learning officers will see many new names popping up as specialty software companies demo new products that use simulation, workflow and collaboration to improve human performance.

Content management vendors are buying collaboration companies. Enterprise vendors are bulking up by acquiring performance support, simulation and virtual classroom capabilities. Workflow by-products include interactive manuals, business process demonstrations, coaching inside applications, and even virtual workers and environments that collaborate in what is now called workspace (what the military calls battlespace).

Structured knowledge management and expertise mining add workflow-based eLearning, workforce analytics and a range of new innovations to the mix.

In today's economic climate, customers demand immediate, measurable and observable workforce improvement results (concepts familiar to both performance technologists and CFOs). As a result, says Sam, "Corporate learning is finally being recognized as a business process. It will be monitored, measured, and managed like any other business process."

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