Faster Internet connections, the development of mobile Internet platforms and increased cybersecurity measures contributed to the rapid growth of cloud-based software in the last five years. Projections now forecast that by 2018, more than 80 percent of companies will adopt the Software as a Service (SaaS) model for their software application needs. Leading the way in SaaS offerings are cloud-based learning management systems (LMS) that deliver quantifiable results and unprecedented user flexibility at a fraction of the cost of an on-premise elearning platform.
Demystifying the Cloud
Cloud-based software is an application available to you, on demand, from any device that has access to the Internet, without the assistance of management or your service provider. Accessing software through off-site storage provides numerous benefits to businesses.
- Flexibility in cost: The old on-premise software model required businesses to purchase either a separate software license for every device running the software, or an enterprise license to cover all company-owned machines. Both options cost SMBs thousands of dollars a year in IT expenses, and left them open to litigation if the software owner discovered unauthorized installation of the program. Cloud-based software costs companies 54-62 percent less than the on-premise model because of the various pricing options available. The most popular pricing choices include per-user access fees and unlimited annual licensing arrangements.
- Speed of implementation: Adding or upgrading software on-premise was both costly and time-consuming. Whenever a company purchased new software from a vendor, the enterprise was at the mercy of the vendor’s installation team in terms of scheduling. This problem became more burdensome when businesses needed to install software at multiple locations. With cloud-based software, installation is no longer a worry. Users only need to log into the platform through their normal browser to get access to the software instantly.
- System updates: A cloud-based training system updates instantly to every user on the network, allowing companies to make changes or implement new educational modules without interruption.
- Hardware requirements: On-premise LMSes need extensive server support for optimal operation. Cloud-based software utilizes the server and computing capacity of the hosting service, which eliminates on-premise servers.
A Learning management system backed by cloud-based software generates tangible results for your business. In 2015, American companies will spend more than $1,200 per employee on direct learning. The result of that training will be an increase in overall productivity of at least 10 percent and a significantly higher project completion rate for companies that invested in training programs including 40 hours or more of material. The Gartner research and advisory firm completed studies revealing that users who finish information technology (IT) training via an LMS will see a radical reduction in the number of errors made, improve their services and will result in better review times. LMS cloud-based software helps to produce these results because of:
- Ease of access: Cloud-based software allows access to information whenever and wherever the user wants. Instead of limiting training to company computers during working hours, cloud-based software allows users to log in anytime. That includes late night hours when they're at home, or the half hour or so they spend on a train, bus or subway while commuting.
- Device diversity: Not everyone can look at a computer screen for hours at a time. Eyes get strained, backs ache and the information gets lost in the discomfort of reading a monitor. Device diversity permits users to access the cloud-based software via any device that has Internet access, including tablets and smartphones. Smaller screens and mobile devices can mean users better engage with the training materials, taking in information more easily and comfortably. In removing the potential barriers to learning, you promote user activity and response.
- Reporting: Users are most likely to interact with their LMS when they know they are accountable. Compiling and housing data on every user was difficult before cloud-based software because of the space and storage requirements. A cloud-based LMS stores needed information about the user's experience, including time spent on the material, success rate on quizzes and areas where there is a gap in knowledge. Armed with this data, you are able to make better decisions about training in the future and tailor programs to meet the needs of your users.
Learning management systems are an important tool for the training and development of your team and the members of your sales channel. Cloud-based software is the fastest, least expensive and most effective way to see a return on your training investment.