When technology in Learning is a stumbling block

You have done all that’s possible for learners to get the best of L&D – The Courses, Micro Learning, Gamification, Mobile, Social, Analytics, content libraries et al. Enterprise Learners can’t wait to get their hands on your product. Of course the course objectives are best worked on by content folks since they understand that world.

But there is something that’s bothering you. There are still those answers you seek that would determine if the new solutions need data to travel back and forth from the LMS, the many content solutions, repositories, solutions acquired in the past / recent, Gamification, Digital etc. These would need specific software skills and knowledge of Learning space. These skills are with Solutions architects, Software Designers and Systems Analysts. Those folks can help. Content producers too need help with these.

We, Adeptus (www.adeptustech.com/eLearning), make it a point that clients and interested companies get our undivided attention at all times. Be it a basic technology question or a loaded question about leveraging existing ecosystems – we make sure that in the recesses of our experience, we always have the relevant answers.

YES, knowledge of eLearning and technology is great while designingsolutions. Sometimes we have even said a “NO” to requirements since the ecosystem didn’t allow it and the available /custom solutions won’t solve the problem. We would have made the money but that’s not why our clients keep coming back. We are truthful like your team should be. We give the “right” answers, whether we win or lose that specific resolution.

There is a point to be made with technology about making it all work with how so ever many systems and as your consultant we don’t ever cross the line. We make logical, relevant and true promises always.

Ask us a question on connect@adeptustech.com and visit us at http://www.adeptustech.com. There is stuff there that only comes with experience.


A business must talk about “WHY” they exist and do what they do

Seldom do we come to hear about the “WHY” because its so intriguing and multifaceted. A “WHY” could be the reason:

  • A company exists from a Founder’s perspective
  • Clients enjoy working with that company
  • Suppliers feel obligated to deliver in a certain way
  • Employees feel connected with each other and the employer
  • Solutions reflect the thought process; the “WHY”

Not everyone has the guts to base a company on a thought – the “WHY”. Its easier to focus on the how and what. The “WHY” seems so difficult to arrive at but Employees and Clients associate with that “WHY” and trust themselves with you. We, at Adeptus, have built a software architecture consulting company and know the reason we do it – because we love why the software solutions need to be architected and designed in certain ways. We also ask our vendor partners to be simple, straight forward and transparent yet elegant and truthful. Let’s not make things more complex then they need to be.

Apple does it, so does Estee’ Lauder and Google and Highfive, and so many more. Ask Simon Sinek or Ben Horowitz and they have been saying this all along. These companies all have achieved success because the thought is clear in their philosophy and strategies. Its always the best performing solution that is right – best looking (may be on paper) comes after. There is a lot of plumbing that goes into creating a solution and developing is the last mile.

Understanding “WHY’ a client needs a solution is paramount, “WHY” that solution design is affected by that reason is paramount, “WHY” you are best suited to understand the need and provide a solution is important. Its “WHY” all around. Seems like rest everything depends on these “WHY”. The “WHY” is the most basic calling one has. Its the reason one feels the purpose behind the activities on an everyday basis and over the long term.

Just my thoughts? You know they are yours too.

Execution is the next in list and that’s a writing I am going to attempt at another time.


Solving Enterprise Learning Challenges with Software Expertise

Learning is a difficult proposition, even more so in an enterprise. As an L&D professional and/or an eLearning company, you provide the best possible combination of instructional design, storyboarding, visual design, and such – but sometimes the solution lies in access to software skills. There are a lot of variables along with advancing use of technology.

For instance, Learning and Development (L&D) at a Fortune company would have legacy systems that are custom developed as well as acquired off-the-shelf. Buying new eLearning content or software system (Custom/bespoke or off the shelf) is going to add a new dimension to the existing issues:

  • Interoperability of systems and the need to modernize with current trends like cloud, mobile, social, gamification
  • Learner progress and recording on an LMS or on a custom system that measures learning effectiveness
  • Learner access to devices such as Smartphone, Tablets, PCs at work as well as home, different browsers, etc.
  • Need for analytics to show and track learner progress vis-a-vis course effectiveness
  • Standards compliance for courses and/or the enterprise system
  • Need to show faster results and effective learner engagement
  • Using new technology to build even newer features
There are so many of these and I am sure you would find a statement that resonates with your experience.

There is a need to create the right user story, wireframes, prototypes, requirement understanding documentation, converting business needs to realistic technical specifications and more….

A software architect and a business analyst, that understand the Learning ecosystem, help with understanding the business needs, capturing user expectations, creating a working document, becoming the bridge between L&D and IT, fulfilling the role of a software expert (although temporarily) along with roles that previously were not fulfilled.

You must try the comfort of having a team of software experts that work for your goals and within your constraints. It could be the difference between a perceived success and a great resounding one.

Our experience at Adeptus as a software consulting company that has interest in the Learning domain – these are severe challenges that often are overlooked as the “other party’s” concern when the solution was to just reach out to software experts within the organization or to the ones that could become internal to your organization for the required duration.

High End Software Consulting Differentiation & Benefits

This post addresses software consulting for the users or clients that engage software consultants to empower decision making.

To remove the confusion in this oft used term, the focus is on high end consulting towards software architecture, design, technology strategy and the capability to convert business needs to software specifications. Businesses sometimes think of consultant as engineers hired mostly to just fill a gap in the development teams. I am not referring to that, I am referring to consulting that empowers the leadership team.

Specialised software consulting helps software teams (of the client) to understand what needs to be done in the context of the larger picture. It also helps the leadership in knowing what can be leveraged from existing investment as well as new development requirements. it’s a great way to evaluate and exercise options when internal teams are already occupied. Seldom is it understood that leadership itself sometimes needs a broader view and outside software experts such as Information and Solution Architects, Business Analysts, Database experts, Technology Strategists, etc. can help.

With so many new ways that technology is impacting business at the top and the bottom line, there are ideas that need sifting through, validations, proofs of concepts, prototypes, user stories, API availability, etc. It can be daunting for the regular office bearers to take them all and still function at their expected best in the “current” scheme of things. They do need to own it and external experience and expertise can provide that luxury at the cost and timeline expectation that gives them an upper hand in transforming the business practices with the use of technology.

Some of the initiatives that consulting teams could help with are:

  • Enterprise mobility for various functions individually or together like sales, service, product development, internal communication, customer engagement, Learning & Development, etc.
  • Collaborative applications that use social features, gamification, group interactions, etc.
  • Cloud based initiatives for new applications or moving existing applications to the cloud
  • Analytics in its various forms for reporting, understanding trends, providing constant inputs to stakeholders, evaluating against benchmarks, etc.
  • Training and eLearning initiatives that need unique software applications and yet tied into the enterprise learning setup
  • …. And so much more in the realm of Digital Transformation, Enterprise Appications, Customer Engagement

The external team takes barely any resources of the client. They would interview likely users (beneficiaries and idea generators) to understand the need. They would draw up a schematic, plan activities, conduct necessary software engineering, showcase iterations, etc. till there is a clear path to move forward in turning the idea into an implementable solution specification. All this without having the clients team to break a sweat.

The better the best practice and processes foundation, the better the efficacy and time management. This is what excites experienced software experts. They understand enterprises and the software setups therein. They know the trends, emerging technologies and balance it with knowledge of major frameworks to provide a best of “all” world solutions.

Engage a team of software experts as consultants for a tiny idea / problem scenario to see the difference they make at levels that matter to you.


How Training Co.s benefit tremendously with Software Experts who understand eLearning

There is something exciting (read crazy) afoot when an eLearning company needs to deliver and work like a software expert. A team of outside consultants is the only viable solution to be able to focus on core competencies.

I’m talking of companies that provide eLearning or advertising or media or training or recruitment, etc. services to enterprises – effectively all services that needs a certain software component and are provided by external agencies specializing in the required value. Enterprise customers are a challenging lot. I say that not because they are difficult but because they have structured methods and constraints to deal with themselves. And then there are the productivity & ROI based expectations from the leadership that allowed the budget.

When, for example, an eLearning or media company needs to deliver a learning experience or a marketing program that should work in the mobile as well as PC world seamlessly – it’s easier said then done. There are a number of things that need consideration:

– The existing software and access security ecosystem
– The way users are going to access the proposed learning or system
– Need to work with user groups and drafting specifications
– Industry specific standards compliance vs. the acquired system’s at the enterprise
– Ability to understand and leverage enterprise systems like LMS, ERP, CMS, etc.
…..and so much more

It can be daunting to know that what is to be delivered is a narrow slice in the gargantuan maze of multiple enterprise systems, owners, restricted data exchange opportunities, strict IT policies. Yet the desired value is unquestionable from the buyer perspective.

For the service provider company, it boils down to having a team at pre-sales, proposal, delivering specifications and implementation stages that knows:

– Software architecture
– Complex systems’ design
– Business Analysis
– Enterprise Application Integration
– User story and wireframe generation
– All major as well as upcoming technologies, methodologies and frameworks
…and so much more

This is not an undertaking that all services providers (irrespective of how large their team is) are geared for.

There is a need for outside experts to come in and extend the internal teams with additional skills (sorta plug the gap). There are a number of issues that consultants can provide benefits towards:

– Prior experience with similar scenarios and thus enable quicker resolution
– Understanding of how enterprise departments and software systems work internally and leverage that for ease of working with those
– Technologies, Industry and domain expertise to be able to lead teams from enterprise as well as service provider
– Effective and expert time bound inclusion, thus cost effective with high quality results
– Ability to provide exact skills and expected leadership

The reader would acknowledge the veracity of this post since I say this with experience being a Co-founder at Adeptus. There is a lot more to dig further into making a consulting engagement successful and I will write more in further blogs – this is a start.


Business Value: The “One Thing” clients appreciate us for

If there is one moment of revelation in our business, as a software technology consulting company, it is when clients thank us for the good work we did for them and for their customers. We have been told things like “Where were you all our lives” and “Our customer is building a statue of your lead architect to recognize his contribution to their success” and “You are probably the smartest people we know of”.

These accolades sound fabulous and we, at Adeptus, often wonder if it was really that big a deal. Well modesty aside, we know that there was a problem and a trained eye/mind could see it in its severest form to be able to provide the right solutions.

More often than not, we get called in when things are sliding and we understand that, since by very nature of consulting we are preordained to identify problems when our clients’ business is challenged – like, very lightly put, a SWAT team. That the challenge is from a software technology standpoint makes it even more poignant.

Our teams work with long term complex software solution design and specifications definition once clients tell us the business problem or opportunity they are targeting. It is hugely satisfying work and gives our teams the canvas to really make a difference as well as build long term relationships with client side folks.

Sometimes we also get to use our engineering brains to solve real time issues. A good case to showcase is when a company called upon us to guide them in an enterprise mobility project that another vendor (a 500 people company) was developing. After 2 hours of talking to the client and the vendor and listening to how complex the infrastructure was to implement this avant-garde solution, we told them the issue was rather trivial – a security certificate. Yes thats all there was to it. Of course we didn’t charge any money for it – it would have brought forth this fundamental flaw in the vendor’s capability in a very severe manner.

We believe that all software teams whether internal or services companies, along with their well meaning engineers, set out to create the best functioning work product (an application or feature or app, or whatever one chooses to call it) at a price point that matches their individual business hunger, skill and resource availability at that time. And there is the dichotomy between software and its intended use. The software was developed well and it was the best that could have been delivered as per client expectations. But, and this is a big BUT, they all suffer from a myopic and closed view of their clients’ business (usually asking for a ready requirement specification).

When we get called on to correct a wayward project, it is mostly for issues relating to future use, interoperability, user experience, business alignment, and core functionality of the software. On the other end, we also get called to understand the requirement and provide a architecture and design consulting service to define what the software developers should be developing. The latter is a great scenario because we are able to study the company, its business, the stakeholders, current software & hardware infrastructure, existing teams’ strengths and much more. This enables us to propose a solution that suits the clients best in the long term as well as in terms of its maintainability. Of course the former case also involves the same but we are playing catchup most of the time. The resulting product works just as well but the client has had to suffer a few sleepless nights before we jump in.

Our effort is to help enterprises, startups and services vendors understand the close proximity of a business, its vision, its people, its real needs AND the software solution that would function to fulfill their combined aspiration. It can be any technology stack, what matters is the clarity of evaluating and proposing a solution thats technologically superior, easier to use, simpler to implement and highly effective towards its intended business application. THAT IS REAL VALUE.


Learning Content Publishers: 3 Scenarios that the right software technology partner helps with

Learning and Education, independent Assessments, Talent Management, eLearning Content Producers, Training and Coaching companies are all upping the ante with digital transformation of their business models. This is to the benefit of the learners in the context of Higher Education as well as Corporate Learning & Development (L&D).

The problems you face are not about the model itself or how to make it work – the digital realm of the business has proven merit and will exceedingly enrich the ecosystem to serve the businesses and customers well.

To implement this business strategy though the challenge is in the inherent need to formulate and implement a viable technology strategy (software design, architecture, solution approach and development/implementation).

The 3 scenarios in the process of digitization that need addressing are:

  • Access to right advise on devising technology strategy and use of software technology: Understanding the what & how of digital transformation at a granular level
  • Understanding what “more is needed” over existing commercially (or open source) available solutions. And the option to custom develop parts of the solution.
  • Practical vision of “Implementation” while accommodating expectations on security, ease-of-use, scalability, future-proofing and maintenance
  • Knowledge of integrating various software systems to get the right information/data to and from amongst these
  • Standards compliance
  • Knowledge of Cloud technologies for the various business benefits of cloud
  1. USER SCENARIOS: Learners, students, trainers, authors, teachers, administrators
  • Understanding the role devices play towards content consumption (Mobile phones, Tablets, PCs and other hand held devices)
  • Providing the trainers/teachers with the right tools and controls to effectively use the digitized content systems
  • Collaboration and social aspects. Interaction within users.
  • The ability to annotate, comment, highlight and interact with the content
  1. PLATFORM: Features, development, evaluation, deployment and future road map
  • Platforms and the understanding of the best fit from the perspective of administration, implementation, content conversion/repurposing, user access, and more nuances of the business
  • eCommerce options, opportunities and standard practices while enabling features associated with those
  • Analytics and reporting to better ascertain learner activity, course effectiveness
  • Gamification and interactivity aspects of the content as well as the platform that enables learners to take advantage of these

An experienced software technology partner, that has expertise with the learning domain, can help navigate and simplify digital transformation of your business. That partner can listen, advise, consult, course-correct and develop solutions. The partner continues to support your business vision by recommending future steps, identifying opportunities that technology advancement brings, keeping platforms current and satisfying expectations for all stake holders.

Adeptus offers eLearning, training, learning, publishing and Talent Management focused software expertise to address the challenges that software technology can address and resolve. With over 15 years of eLearning technology and standards related experience, our teams are one of the very few specialists that help Enterprises, Learning Content companies, Training and Coaching services companies, publishing houses and ISVs in implementing their software strategy and business vision.




Software Products, Innovation and Software Services – A useful mutually fulfilling alliance

All of my customers are Computer Software based businesses (read YOU throughout this post). That essentially means that I work with developers a lot. You are smart people – inventors, path breakers, process innovators, bright minds that are trying or have already solved business problems through the use of extremely useful software algorithm that only you could have dreamt of building solutions on. I read Ayn Rand and felt the surge too to be the best at what we do and be the movement – become the protagonist in this technology innovation based social upheaval and upliftment.

Yet, new technologies pose inevitable change, unlearning & relearning are constant challenges and new market opportunities remain exciting. When I shop and bank online or use a smartphone or access my files on the ubiquitous cloud – I see that small bit that folks like me helped you build.
In our conversations while doing business with you and because my business is based in India, we often get asked:
  • Do we have engineers who can code in X, Y or Z technologies
  • Can we help understand what you need to do churn this code faster and better, cost effective yet high quality,
  • Do I have performance expertise to make sure your software won’t go down when millions of holiday shoppers go online on your platform and servers that run them
  • How can we help your legacy system get on to the Cloud
  • Can we confirm if a certain derivative of existing technology A with pre-set elements will be a better option to use instead of straight programming in A, even if it is laborious and hard work
  • Can we help you take your ideas on Analytics to be a grand product
  • There are so many services companies, why should you work with us (Of course you want to work with someone, just not sure if its we you should be working with)
  • And so many more…. YOU, the reader, knows many more problem statements better
My answer usually is Yes, Yes, and… Yes. Not because I have a number of engineers and not because I am from the industry that “bangalored” the product development aspect of your business. Its because, I know the business of problem solving and have the means as well as the resources to think as well as act on your problems. Also because we have been doing  for over 18 years – We have learnt, We have evolved, We have made the learning and evolution a process so we’re ready as and when you are.
You are the one innovating here, so you are going to worry about monetizing the opportunity, creating barriers to entry, staying ahead of competition, wooing users through incredibly useful features and staying afloat by attracting investors. And amidst doing all this, you did the ground work to create the initial software…. commendable…Now can we pitch in and help you with your biggest challenge – TIME and then with that other concern – COST; since that would make your product reach more users quickly and affordably.
We try to match expectations; provide employment to engineers and in turn help the economy by raising buying power; innovate processes and business models to be competent, sharp, dependable & to deliver faster; learn technologies so we can advise alternatives as well as consult on best practices; take your product to dimensions that you envision and then make it even better; use the best ways to satisfy the performance, scale, usability and maintenance aspects of your product.
Sounds like a lot right? It is…believe me. National economies are being driven by these actions and we (you and us) can only get better. We (you and us) know this for a fact.
So, the next time you have a question, ask me – I am the software service guy and I am good at what I do BUT please keep innovating coz’ I am one too. Also I am a consumer.

6 points to remember while building a customer oriented business – my experiences

Well I am an entrepreneur now and building a business with just one focus – CUSTOMER DELIGHT. I will really do anything to make sure that the customer feels great about working with us.

Over 18 years servicing accounts and businesses taught me a couple of things. I am not sharing any wise words just throwing it out there for you to think about it:
  1. No business survives without a genuine care for what matters to the customer. Also please be honest and truthful.
  2. Smile for real, be cheerful even in adverse conditions. it spreads like an infection that is actually good for everyone
  3. Fight for the customer, even if it means lots of bad days at work. It pays to be the watch guard for the customers’ interests
  4. Be the first to accept a mistake and have the customer help you solve the problem. I had many customers but a lot of them only had me as a vendor. They are invested more in the engagement than you think.
  5. Propose mind blowing ideas (business or technology or personal). It keeps the engagement alive and growing. 
  6. Money discussions are not tough, just say your concern with a real reason and both parties usually agree to a mutually beneficial arrangement.