Taking training on the road

No more school. No more books. Bell Nexia’s sales employees are now receiving some of their product training while they are on the road.

The IP broadband provider is using ISOPIA’s integrated learning management system (ILMS) to enable employees to take part in m-learning.

Josie Scioli, vice-president of sales operations and customer care for Bell Nexia, said the company had been looking for a way to go mobile with its e-learning initiatives.

“We wanted to give sales people, in particular, more of a companion approach. . . With mobile we use a Palm Pilot and download courses,” she explained. “They are specific courses our salespeople would use to talk to people about specific products.

“If they have 15 minutes before meeting the customer, they can look at key technical requirements and how to position the product to the client.”

Scioli said this type of quick information gathering will be crucial to Bell Nexia’s business processes. She noted they wanted to make sure their sales professionals weren’t always returning to the desktop or a laptop for product data. Now on-the-road professionals can download course modules and job information from their corporate Web sites to their PDA to have at their disposal.

“It’s still under pilot,” she said. “But it’s easy to use. It’s a culture shift, but it’s good and positive because it helps them do their business. It allows flexibility.”

She added that this was not a high-cost implementation for Bell Nexia, as many of its sales people were already using Palm Pilots.

“The hardware was already there. We just enhanced our system and a lot of the infrastructure was outsourced to ISOPIA,” Scioli said.

One function she would like to see added in the future is better tracing.

“We want to track the information better, where people are taking courses and that information is automatically uploaded into our learning management system – so it is part of (employees)career development,” she said.

Aditya Jha, vice-president of sales and marketing for Toronto-based ISOPIA, noted that this functionality is already being added.

“They can take the course on the Palm. They might be in a cab and then the software is tracking what this person is doing,” he said.

The system knows when a course should be downloaded and saved in cache or when it can be run live off a remote server.

The ILMS is based on J2ME (Java 2 Micro Edition) architecture which allows tracking to be sent back and forth.

“We are trying to conform to standards,” Jha said.

The solution is only available to certain long time clients and allows users to download courses onto a PDA or other handheld device, synchronize with Web-based learning and register for courses.

Jha noted that ISOPIA is not and end-to-end service provider, they focus primarily on the infrastructure.