Interview of the week: CERTPOINT

27 mai 2010

This week, I would like to introduce Maria vn Vlodrop, General Manager at CERTPOINT.

I met Maria during the Learning Technologies conference, held in London in January 2010. I was really impressed by the demonstrations of CERPOINT VLS, an LMS with a very large functional scope, including innovative features like social learning and mobile learning.

So this is a real pleasure for me to give you the opportunity to discover CERTPOINT and their LMS, CERPOINT VLS…

Sébastien FRAYSSE (SF) – Could you give us a few trends about the evolution of the LMS/LCMS market by the beginning of 2010? How is the demand evolving?

Maria vn Vlodrop (MVV) – 2010 has the challenge of tighter budgets and at the same time the demand to do more with less! In this complex arena, there are three key areas where Learning &Development (L&D) must prove itself in 2010.

Mobile technology

Mobile technology has evolved massively in just a few years. The impact on learning and development in

2010 will be tangible – expect employees to be using their phones to learn in a variety of ways. They will use them as performance support devices to find, call and message experts they value. They will access the internet on their phones to answer questions. They will use social networking and other community resources to find shared knowledge pools inside work and outside.

This is already taking place, and will continue to take place over the year, leaving L&D with two challenges. First: to make the mobile learning already occurring as valuable and as effective as possible.

Second: to add mobile to L&D’s existing delivery mechanisms. This is no longer a nice-to-have.

The social media challenge

If 2009 was the year when the world woke up to Twitter (tripling its US base to 18 million users), then 2010 is the year when L&D will be expected to put it to use. Social media is undoubtedly one of the most important tools we have for learning. It helps us learn in the way that is most natural to us: by asking a question and receiving an answer. However, it only works well when used in the right way.

The social media challenge of 2010 is not whether social media should be used for learning (it already is) and it is not what tools we should use (important, but a technical detail). The challenge is this: are we ready to change what we do as L&D professionals to accommodate this new method of learning?

Budgets, value and alignment

In these tough times, training budgets and value are more important than ever. The challenge for L&D here is simple: are you focused on organizational impact? That is what your executives want. They don’t want a list of the courses you provide. They don’t want a complex ROI calculation for a few training interventions. They want to know that L&D is having a positive impact on their business priorities at a reasonable cost. How can learning technologies help? They can help with providing sufficient reports of the right data to prove that what is being done doing is working. However, it is not enough to provide the facts, L&D needs to make sure the facts are communicated to management in terms of their impact/benefit to the business.

SF – CERTPOINT is not well-known on the French market. Do you have an office in France? What are your main references in France?

MVV – Our first phase was to equip our global customs with the ability to support French operations as required, with the benefit of local Business Support Managers (BSM) as needed. Then we moved into France as we launched Toyota and Lexus France followed by L’Oréal with local French BSMs based in our offices in Paris. CERTPOINTVLS is fully available in French- both in terms of user interface and administration of the system.

We also have a full staff in Brussels (French speaking) who can easily work with French speaking clients if need be. Our plan is to also start increasing our brand recognition in France by investing more behind marketing and PR.

SF – CERTPOINT is a very comprehensive product, including LMS, LCMS, competency and performance management, etc. Why did you choose an all-in-one model, and not a modular offering as most of your competitors do?

MVV – There are four concrete benefits of our “ALL-IN-ONE” learning platform (CERTPOINTVLS):

  • Speed (faster to rollout and adopt)
  • Lower cost of ownership (one license- low maintenance)
  • Less human resources to support and maintain (efficient to run)
  • Much easier upgrade to new versions (one single source for upgrade)
  • Easy to use, single interface

There are a lot of companies out there who claim to be “ALL-IN-ONE” solution. However, when you probe, you realize this is not the case. There is a perception that “ALL-IN-ONE””means that an organization has an LMS that can work in conjunction with other systems once integrated- meaning they start with an LMS, then they buy a separate LCMS which they integrate and a separate authoring tool, and reporting tools, and competency manager etc…. This is the “BEST of BREED” model, meaning each system does one task that needs to be integrated with others in order to get a complete solution.

Many organizations are in the process of moving away from this type of structure. If they already have such a structure, then they need to maintain it and this becomes difficult to manage as they are dealing with different licenses, different teams, different upgrade schedules, different databases etc…The cost of maintenance of such an infrastructure to the organization can be significant and not always predictable from the start. In this situation the L&D Manager needs to worry about technical integration and typically IT needs to get more involved as there are many technical aspects to deal with.

Organizations who choose the “BEST of BREED” route, do so because they want each system to be the “BEST of BREED” (ie: have maximum number of functionalities). However, in reality, they rarely use all the bells and whistles available. Plus getting the whole infrastructure to work together takes more time and effort.

Our vision is different. Right from day one (back in 1996), we identified the problem that “BEST of BREED” model would cause and decided to hire the best software engineers and create a product that needed little technical maintenance and empowered the L&D professional to concentrate on training rather than painful integration and technical aspects of the job which are not core L&D competences. The idea was to create a holistic system (“ALL-IN-ONE”) so we created an “ALL-IN-ONE” Learning Platform to include all the different components an organization needs to manage their training in one package. We pioneered this idea and hold a patent.

Our holistic model saves organizations a lot of time, effort and money because the cost of a learning platform is not just the license but the maintenance and resources needed to run it. Our model enables clients to grow at their own pace and benefit from a predictable cost model. As a result, our clients stay with us on a long term basis because they have almost everything they need for training in one system and under one license (for reference: Toyota: 12 years, Black & Decker 10 years, Hartford Insurance 14 years).

From a pure transfer of knowledge point of view, when the LCMS (with authoring) is included in the LMS, then there is no need to import SCORM content. All content authors have to do is to publish to the system which a click of a button. This saves a lot of time and also makes changes/updates easier.

From a pure reporting side, the advantage worth noting is that our “ALL-IN-ONE” system operates on one central database so all the data is tracked together and reported/manipulated from one place, thus easier, deeper and more granular reporting.

There are many advantages for organization to adopt our patented “ALL-IN-ONE”software model (speed, ease of use, lower cost of ownership, easier upgrades). While “ALL-IN-ONE”, our software is also very comprehensive so our customers have all the functionalities they need to manage their training. In fact, we develop the product as core enhancements with functionalities clients are asking for which then become available to all.

SF – Social Learning and Informal Learning is on the hype. What is the maturity of your customers in these areas? Are they experimenting solutions? Do they deploy large-scale projects?

MVV – CERTPOINTVLS offers Web 2.0 collaboration and some of our clients are experimenting with it. Web 2.0 is becoming more and more of a reality for business as the younger generation enters the workforce and as informal ways of learning become more prominent and collaboration between peers offers the possibility to learn beyond structured training. As a result and also upon the insistence of L’Oréal who is comprised of a great number of Gen Y employees, we are enhancing this functionality as part of our core product and making it available to other customers later this year.

The social media challenge of 2010 is not whether social media should be used for learning (it already is) and it is not what tools we should use (important, but a technical detail). The challenge is this: are organizations ready to change to accommodate this new method of learning?

SF – Mobile Learning is on the rise. How does CERTPOINT adapt to this new market in terms of features and services?

MVV – CERTPOINTVLS includes mobile delivery and this functionality is already available. We are, however, in the process of launching an enhanced version- K-Tango which will have more on the go functionality for on the go performers and serve as a performance support tool for continuous learning. We are working closely with Black and Decker to develop these enhancements and will be offering a pre-launch trial to 10 organizations which fit our selection criteria this year. Interested organizations should apply for consideration.

SF – What direction will you give to your LMS/LCMS for the next years? What kind of features/capabilities do you plan to develop?

MVV – We are now in the process of merging all the different client core enhancements we’ve had recently into ONE core product so all our clients will be able to benefit from additional CORE functionality. We are also totally redesigning our look and feel and making the product even more efficient to use and even more flexible than it is already today. We are also going to focus on the French market and plan to put our knowledge, system and services to work for corporations in need of a Global Learning Platform for more efficiencies in their training, specially transfer of knowledge. As a result we will be doing more marketing activities in France to raise our profile.

We already have very strong global capabilities. However, we are in the process of further enhancing these to enable global clients to really benefit from a system that brings further efficiencies to their localization process and needs as they need to work across their own borders. We have just won an award for most enhancements in learning management for global training.

We will continue developing our mobile application as we believe that this is here to stay and definitely a must for all organizations, especially organizations with customer facing personnel.

Given our strong belief in “ALL-IN-ONE”system philosophy, we are also investing a lot in Research and Development to continue to innovate ahead of the market so that we can offer added new items to our customers to accommodate the fast pace of change and demands their business requires to stay most competitive.

SF – Thank you very much Maria for this great interview. Our readers can visit the CERTPOINT website to go still further.

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1 comment related to “Interview of the week: CERTPOINT”

  1. Jagharbekian dit :

    I think the trends mentioned are all very important trends in 2010, but the most important one is the mobile technology.

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