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At ATD 2017 this year, our CEO Tim Martin had a chance to talk about Content as a Service (CaaS). This conference was my first in eLearning, so I was excited to hear how companies are thinking about CaaS (or if they even know what it is). Out of the 125 attendees in Tim’s session 90% were from organizations, 5% were vendors and 5% fit into a category that was neither (or both!). On the organization side, the majority of attendees had more than one LMS and one poor soul had 10 LMSs to contend with in her company.

Tim discussed what Content as a Service is and how it solves the challenges of distributing courses across multiple systems by centralizing content in order to control and better understand the learning experience. (Sidenote: if you’re looking for further resources on CaaS, check out these blog posts). He also had a chance to answer some pretty common questions, such as…

How can an organization better distribute one piece of content to multiple LMSs?

For organizations who distribute content to multiple systems via individual files, content is not traditionally housed and managed in a central location. CaaS allows you to host a course in a single location and create proxy files to share with multiple LMSs that point back to that original course. When you update or edit your course, you edit a single file that is automatically available from each LMS.

What level of reporting is possible with CaaS?

CaaS enables you to see the usage of your content across all of your LMSs. Previously, any usage data or reporting was trapped in each LMS. With CaaS, the content and its corresponding data are centrally housed, allowing you to track both general utilization and deeper reporting like question-level analytics. Remember, reporting is always dictated by the eLearning specification you use.

How can vendors benefit from CaaS?

One of the coolest things about leveraging CaaS to distribute your content is that it empowers you to create unique, relevant experiences suited to specific learners. This is especially powerful for vendors who offer dynamically generated content within their system, which is hard to package and ship to an LMS.

Content as a Service also allows vendors to ensure the highest level of quality by consistently providing access to the latest version of a course. Financially, vendors are able to enforce the content licenses and subscriptions.

How can Content as a Service apply to a instructional designer?

Meet an instructional designer and you’ll quickly understand how passionate they are about creating eLearning content rooted in both design and science. With CaaS, an instructional designer can make sure the user always has the latest, best version of a course. And, they can finally understand how learners are interacting with a course (see reporting details above) so that they can adjust their content accordingly.

How are other businesses using CaaS?

If you’re looking for inspiration, look no further than the SANS Institute, who uses CaaS to help them efficiently manage and understand their eLearning content. If you want to know how Content as a Service can benefit you specifically or if you have a question about how it works, reach out to us.

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Last week we were incredibly excited to share a brand new case study for the SANS Institute. The case study describes the success they have using Content as a Service (CaaS) via Content Controller to help them distribute and manage training content. When we were publishing the case study, we couldn’t help but reflect upon how wonderful they are as a client. SANS has continuously inspired us, encouraged us and collaborated with us. We’ve created a better product, and are a better company, because of them.

We started talking to SANS about content distribution challenges two years ago during ATD ICE 2015 (Side Note: Tim will be speaking at this year’s ATD ICE!). At the time, Content Controller was a glimmer in our eye. We had begun thinking about what it would mean to help companies better manage and control their content through CaaS, but we hadn’t worked out what a product entailed.

We were therefore lucky to start chatting with SANS, who shared that same glimmer in their eye. At the time, SANS was struggling to effectively release version updates for their customers and they felt like there had to be a better way to manage content.

Worlds collided; the timing was perfect. Content Controller was born.

Since those first conversations, SANS has been a collaborative partner involved in the development, launch and evolution of Content Controller. We have had meetings in person to discuss product mock ups. We have picked their brains about how they use the product. We have supported feature requests inspired by their challenges.

Point of fact, SANS was the inspiration for one of our most popular features, Equivalents. SANS customers were finding it cumbersome and time-consuming to manage multiple languages of the same course. As a solution, SANS wanted to enable their customers to present a single course to a learner and let the user select their language. Equivalents solves this problem precisely and our product is better for it.

Last year, Content Controller was awarded a Brandon Hall Group’s Excellence in Technology Award for Best Advance in Content Management Technology. This award granted to Content Controller for revolutionizing content management and delivery could not have been possible without fantastic customers like the SANS Institute.

We are unbelievably thankful to SANS for inspiring us to create a better product and making our days more enjoyable through collaboration. And we can’t thank them enough for being champions of our company.

So, two years later, we’d like to say, “Cheers!” to SANS. We’re glad to know you and incredibly happy to work with you. Here’s to many years to come.

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We’re excited to head down to Atlanta in just a few weeks for ATD 2017. Not only is it in our backyard (well, sort of) but it’s a great chance to see so many of our clients and partners across the industry- all in one place! At last tally, more than 50 of the companies on the exhibit floor use our software in their products. We can’t wait to hit the expo hall and see so many of our clients in person. And check out the latest and greatest products everyone has to share.

Another fun fact about ICE this year? Tim Martin will be talking about Content as a Service. For those of you at the conference, check it out. It should be a great talk for anyone looking for options on how to distribute content in new and different ways. Tim’s also known for having some pretty entertaining slide decks.

So, if you’re planning on going to ATD this year, let us know. We’d love to make sure we find you to catch up. And if you don’t find us on the floor, you might find us here. Ryan Pfeiffer has already prepped us that we will need to visit Shake Shack at least once while we’re there.

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This week LTG (our parent company) announced the formal acceptance of their bid to acquire NetDimensions. Depending on who you are and what you know, this may or may not seem like a big deal, or even a potential threat.

I wanted to quickly, publicly, and officially alleviate any concerns you may have.

When LTG acquired us a little over a year ago, Mike and I made clear that it was crucial to us that Rustici Software be allowed to serve its customers in exactly the way it always has… agnostically. We’ve never recommended amongst our LMS or content providing customers. We just wouldn’t do it, and we won’t do it. And that’s still true today, with full knowledge of the NetDimensions acquisition.

A related story: LTG owns a content authoring platform, gomo learning, which does not use any Rustici products. At the same time, we have provided our SCORM Driver product (which also supports xAPI/cmi5) to Articulate, Adobe, and Dominknow, competitors of gomo’s.

Early in the integration process, we were asked by gomo folks if we could integrate gomo directly into SCORM Cloud as a way to introduce their product to our many users of SCORM Cloud. Doing so almost certainly would have brought some prospects to gomo and increased the revenue of the group as a whole, and could have potentially brought Rustici some referral revenue as well.

We refused. And LTG supported that choice.

(gomo has also been given the freedom not to acquire our software, too, for what it’s worth because they already had a reasonable solution in place.)

This autonomy is crucial to our ability to serve so many of the vendors in the industry, many of whom compete with each other.

If some of the folks at NetDimensions ask my opinion about how and whether they should adopt xAPI, I will certainly offer it, just as I would for any other LMS vendor who calls upon me. If those same people ask me to inform them about another LMS vendor’s plans in this regard, I merely point them to publicly available information. More directly: we will offer our services and products to NetD, and they will have the ability to procure them, just like we would with any other LMS provider.

So, congratulations to LTG and NetD both. It’s an exciting combination for parts of the group, and business as usual for Rustici Software.

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We see two distinct ways to innovate learning standards. One is to push the community forward by developing and evangelizing emerging standards. We do this all the time. The other is to create and deploy new approaches around existing standards.

Our SCORM Engine powers content launch for the vast majority of LMSs in the world. Our SCORM Driver is used by all but one of the largest rapid authoring tools and countless content creators.

Today we’re announcing Content Controller. We believe that content providers have been underserved. Limitations imposed by SCORM have discouraged innovation that can help them realize the value of their compelling content.

ContentController

Many industries have transitioned to “as a Service” models. Software as a Service is quite familiar, and Infrastructure as a Service and Platforms as a Service are well on their way too. In each case, customers are able to leave more of the problems to their providers, and providers are able to iterate much more quickly and proficiently than their customers. Providers are also able to generate long term recurring revenue by this model.

In the elearning world, content has long been deployed physically, as digital assets, from content provider to customer. While this has long been required by SCORM’s architecture, it also created real issues.

  • LMSs are prone to have duplicate and out of date content.

  • Customers are liable to use content well beyond its licensed period and/or licensed number of learners.

  • Content providers are blind not only to the utilization of their content, but to the value of it.

Content Controller addresses all of these issues by allowing the content provider to host their content centrally while deploying it for use by their customers. Built on top of our existing SCORM Dispatch product (meaning this is well vetted), Content Controller circumvents SCORM’s limitations to allow both provider and customer to have what they need. This allows Content Controller customers to offer Content as a Service (CaaS).

Content Controller provides version management, license management, content analytics, and sophisticated equivalencies that allow content owners and their customers to do things they haven’t previously.

I’m really excited about this product personally because I think some of the best creative work in our industry is being done by content providers. This will allow those companies to take proper advantage of their unique abilities. We’ve developed this initial version of Content Controller in conjunction with four customers, and the first of the deployments are live and have already delivered tens of thousands of launches. This is just the beginning.

Tim

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