The further into the 21st Century we go the more dependent we become on technology and the more intertwined it becomes in our lives (just like you reading this blog post right now). In the professional sphere, by increasing efficiency with automating formerly manual tasks software technology has become an essential tool for the majority of companies’ day-to-day operations. However, there is a risk associated with so much dependence: when technology goes awry businesses may suffer operational complications with major financial implications, with the added possibility of all business functions coming to a screeching halt (and business owners with massive headaches).
How many systems do you have connected to your eLearning platform?
For those in the eLearning industry, with technology being quite literally the foundation of their profession their dependence on software is even more critical. It goes without saying that you rely on the functionality of your learning management system as the foundation of your business, but what about the other software applications you use to keep your business running smoothly and profitably? In addition to your platform, as an eLearning professional you likely also rely on accounting software, marketing tools and other applications to operate your business.
But, chances are those different software programs you depend on do not interface with each other by default. This lack of integration between essentials applications may cause further operational challenges and leave you forced to compensate for this lack of connectivity with time-consuming manual tasks. Fragmented software kills business productivity, costing you both time and money. In a perfect world, separate software programs would easily integrate with each other, but in reality software applications are just not so easily linked.
Integration services, such as Zapier, tout the ability to easily connect multiple software applications to work in conjunction with each other. And while in theory this would seem like an idyllic, plug-and-play solution to right a fragmented network of software programs you need to talk to each other, unfortunately in practice things are not so simple. While Zapier and tools like it, such as IFTTT, allow you to connect applications and send data downstream and upstream between systems, they still are limited to a set of predetermined functions for you to work with. In other words, what you are able to do is limited by each integration service’s established configurations whose functionality is driven by user demand, not necessarily your specific needs.
While you’re not a number, you’re still operating like one (in a silo)
If you are in a niche eLearning field, such as professional training or continuing education, the waters can get even murkier if you need a platform which can integrate efficiently with the other software systems you work with. Given how specialized these concentrations can be with so many dependent on in-house databases and (often outdated) legacy software, finding an out-of-the-box platform that can successfully integrate with your other software systems can be challenging, if not impossible. On top of that, with many eLearning businesses also required to work with continuing education accrediting bodies (who are also likely to utilize outdated legacy software have and in-house databases), you can be sure that tools such as Zapier will not integrate with those systems.
While your business and the organizations it works with may depend on specialized legacy systems to get from Point A to Point B of essential business functions, relying on those same applications has also placed you in a niche category of users whose software integration needs are not easily addressed. In other words, your business may be operating in a silo due in large part to the unique nature of your software applications.
The true cost of not addressing silos in business operations
So, where does that leave you? If you can relate to the scenario illustrated above, your eLearning platform and the other software programs you rely on are causing crucial business functions to be performed in silos due to those same software programs’ inability to interface with each other. While on the surface it’s clear this will cost you at least some time and money due to inefficiency in day-to-day business operations, there also may be other potentially negative long term side effects if silos are not resolved.
There are deeper implications for your business if silos go unaddressed: silos may cause a detrimental blind spot and prevent you from having a clear view of your business operations’ big picture. By not having a transparent window into critical business functions you run the risk of failing to see larger flawed operational patterns that if left unaddressed have the potential to compound into more complicated and costly issues over the long term. To prevent this, it always pays to be proactive rather than reactive.
How do I know if my business is operating within a silo?
Chances are if any of the points below apply to your eLearning business then you likely are operating within a silo:
- Your current LMS is an in-house, proprietary legacy platform
- Your business depends on specialized legacy software application(s)
- Your database is localized in-house and not cloud-enabled
- Your LMS and/or other required software applications are not supported by Zapier or other integration services
- You provide courses in continuing education and need to transmit data to licensing bodies who still have legacy software and/or localized in-house databases
The most direct solution to resolving a silo caused by a fragmented software network is migrating to an LMS with the ability to interface with your other crucial applications. This generally will require a custom built eLearning solution tailor-made to your needs, but still able to provides you with the flexibility you’ll need going forward with updates available to the custom application.
Do you need a custom built platform solution?
If you answered “Yes” to any of the points above your eLearning business likely requires a custom built platform to circumvent operational silos caused by disjointed software systems.
A custom platform solution benefits you by being proactive over being reactive: during your platform’s development integration between other software systems your business relies on becomes a prioritized system requirement to ensure all applications’ connectivity. Once built, the platform continues to set you above industry competition with its ability to more quickly adapt to changing technology trends due it being customizable via updates over its lifetime of use.
Have questions about anything you ready here? Want to know about integration via a custom platform solution?
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