“Layers” of Content and Tech Innovation

Imagine adding “layers” of new learning content, context, and/or interaction to your Learning Management System – without a major upgrade or expensive integration.

Imagine being able to offer the Machine Learning expertise of IBM’s Watson or Amazon’s Alexa to your learners by adding a “layer” of technology that would seamlessly weave through the existing workplace technology.

Imagine if your employees who graduated from business programs at institutions like Wharton, Harvard, or UCLA could add a personalized “layer” of content, curation, and collaboration to their technology workspaces that would enhance their learning experiences.

Imagine if a business unit could offer a “gamification layer” that would provide enterprise-wide content for a cluster of employees, adding a powerful engagement strategy for a targeted cluster of the workforce.

And, imagine if you could inject a “layer” of content in the native language of some of your employees. That layer could live alongside or even replace English content for specific learners who want a deeper, native-language exploration of a topic.

Layers are coming!

Sure, we have always had the ability to ask the IT Department or an external vendor to design, test, and implement an integration of a second program or application into a learning or talent system. But, that would often become a deeply complicated process, with uncertain expenses and “hard-coded” solutions that might require re-integration after an update to the LMS.

The layer looks and feels more like an app on our phones. Layers will leverage the equivalent of an “Open API – Application Program Interface” to allow a business unit or learning department to add/inject/weave/enhance a worker’s learning space with new capabilities, in a safe and secure fashion.

Let’s explore this more by imagining a layer that would provide Apple’s Siri at the workplace:

  • Let’s say that Apple would offer the power of Siri, a voice- or text-based search and assistance tool, to businesses.
  • The entire enterprise, a specific line of business, or even a group of employees would choose to add the “Siri Business Layer” into their computing world.
  • Siri would have been approved as a safe, secure, and appropriate layer by a software association or “layer registry”.
  • The enterprise, business, or learners themselves would select the layer and how it would be seen and used.
  • Siri would then become active and could work on top, alongside, or with content from learning systems.
  • Siri could be replaced with a different layer or even offer the employee multi-layers of search and “TalkTech” tools.

What makes the layer model so attractive is the ability for an organization to take an approach that is centered on innovation and user experiences. As technology evolves in the marketplace, layers would enable an organization to experiment with and compare diverse tools.

Personalization by business units or specialized roles could be enhanced through a robust set of layers that were available and easily added. 

Remember, you may have a dozen or more mobile apps on your phone that you have tried but haven’t used in months – or even years. The app model has allowed you to be more agile and experimental in how to leverage your phone or tablet.

Layers would also provide a new incentive to the venture and development world as it could more easily provide demonstration or beta versions of innovations to a global marketplace.

What is needed to make layers a reality? 

  • Learning Management Systems and Talent Systems that create a dynamic integration tool for layers: a new API to allow for enterprise security, safety, and data sharing that protects the corporate data warehouse while adding new functionality for the worker.
  • A business model for how layers will be priced and marketed: some may be free, some will be directly charged, and others may have a sponsored or premium layer pricing model.
  • Layer Marketplaces, which may live off the supplier sites of the LMS and Talent Systems, where layers could be viewed, reviewed, and selected.
  • A Mentality Shift: excitement about our ability to be agile, experimental, and dynamic in adding new technology to our core systems without hassles or major expenses.

Yes, layers are coming. Get ready!

Published in CLO Magazine, March 2018


 

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