Earlier this year, Apple celebrated 5 years of the App Store. We all know how App Store changed the face of the mobile industry and has now spawned countless successful app companies ranging from silly to clever and catering to infants and grown-ups. So how did these thousands of third-party app developers get on the iOS platform? This is where, Steve Jobs gets the credit. Let’s rewind to post iPhone days. I was using Blackberry as any self-respecting cubicle dweller would do in those days. The only apps available to me were those that Blackberry or those my telco per-installed on my device (there were the apps that I never bothered to even open once. I call them SMAPS – Spam Apps). There was no store to go around to download apps. Life was simple as it was for somebody living in a cave. If not for Jobs, we would all be living in caves!
The App store was a masterstroke in unleashing the creativity of an army of app developers while maintaining an iron grip on what is built and how it is built. No company, however creative or innovative, can spare the bandwidth needed to develop thousands of apps. “There is an app for that…” is a phrase that truly defines the vastness of the app world.
In my earlier posts, I had argued that training delivery should not be a command and control system. This is akin to a model where only Apple could build the apps. Training, when delivered only by an understaffed department, is throttled by the lack of bandwidth; constrained by the lack of ideas; hampered by the need to gather knowledge that is then fed into a training program. A model that will allow subject matter experts to broadcast their knowledge, wisdom, and insights to the rest of the organization and the ability for any employee to access this training directly, while being confident that the information is authentic, is the ideal model in today’s world. This is the model that caters to the new generation of employees that value learning from peers.
The iOS SDK framework is the throttle that Apple has a firm grip on. App developers cannot successfully get on the App Store without certification and without compliance with the SDK guidelines. A similar approach is required when training is decentralized. I have seen customers jump headlong into employee-sourced content development only to find that the content standards are not consistent and in some cases misleading. There is a need to re-look at the role of the training department and shift away from being “content creators” to “content curators”. This requires establishing training content development guidelines, media standards, confidentiality and data privacy guidelines. These are the same guidelines that training departments already have in place for their content development process. Another major challenge that needs to be addressed is the need for a standardized authoring tool that does not require a training program to start using! The growth of MOOCs and the eventual adoption of MOOCs by corporates will put in place the infrastructure needed to roll out the App Store model for enterprise training. That’s my prediction anyways.