content management system

Ever since the first fully functional “Learning Management System” EKKO was introduced by Norway’s NKI Distance Education Network in 1991, LMSs have evolved with time, trying to engage learners along the way. Slowly, the need for digital assets management grew and gave rise to the “Content Management System” (CMS), which in turn gave “Instructional Designers” a new tool to author with.

Gradually, as organizations and educational institutions started cumulating terabytes of knowledge with the help of rapidly growing technological advancements in storage and access, “knowledge farms” or “knowledge bases” or “Knowledge Management Systems” (KMS) came into being. 

Content Management System

What Is a Content Management System or CMS?

As purposefully as each of these systems came into being, they evolved in their respective servitude of existence, unfortunately only too well within their rights. Soon, organizations started seeing the risk of low knowledge retention due to various reasons like attrition, competitive advances in technology or know-how in the respective fields of businesses, or, more worryingly, their employees stalling or staling in knowledge.

With the rapid growth of technology, this only worsened, as herds of IT-literate folks had to be reskilled to remain relevant. Not just IT, even IT-enabled services, peripheral industries, and the like, too, started seeing the need and importance of LMS to enable the last-mile reach of retainable and sustainable knowledge!

Like organisms needing to evolve and survive the tide of times, organizations need to develop and adopt upcoming trends in the learning industry. Worldwide, it is estimated that the learning industry could be a US$360 Billion industry (Statistica), with the LMS growth in the Asia Pacific region alone expected to grow at a CAGR of 34.2%.

Therefore, it is not a surprise that the learning management landscape is plush with different offerings, from well-established players to newbies springing up by the hour! Over a few thousand e-learning platforms (LMS CMS (LCMS)/ LMS / CMS/ KMS) worldwide offer innovative solutions for the masses. Each has found its niche in specific business verticals or its technical niche, trying to grab a share of the enormous market potential.

The more prominent players like SAP Litmos, SABA, etc., have their territory to guard against the newbies who seem to be leap-frogging into newer offerings that these traditional LMSs have yet to offer. Organizations also want to disown the tedious process of maintaining terabytes of knowledge retained over decades. They seek lighter, maintenance-free systems that can be made available comfortably across multiple devices as the learner’s convenience becomes more and more relevant in these digital wearables ages.

what is content management system

With ever-growing cutting-edge learning systems in such abundance, why are organizations still grappling with appalling learning retention rates? The simple truth is that none of these systems has evolved into an integrated tool that can co-exist, feeding off each other with a single purpose of ensuring the knowledge retention of an employee with continuous learning.

When was the last time you heard of a learning system with all the features of LMS, LCMS & KMS as a single experience for your learners? Traditionally, these have always existed in silos. Yes, LCMS (LMS CMS) solutions have evolved. LMS CMS software systems enable digital learning content creation, management, and delivery. LCMS platforms typically provide tools for creating and editing content, managing content repositories, and publishing content to multiple delivery platforms, such as LMSs or other web-based platforms.

An LMS CMS differs from an LMS in that the former primarily focuses on managing learning content delivery. On the other hand, an LMS CMS focuses more on content creation and management. With an LCMS, organizations can create and manage their own learning content, which can include multimedia elements such as videos, audio files, and interactive simulations. The content can be reused, customized, and repurposed for different audiences, delivery modes, and learning objectives. An LMS CMS can also provide analytics and reporting capabilities to track learner progress and measure the effectiveness of learning content.

However, the (K)knowledge piece still is elusive in most scenarios, if not all. Yes, the KMS part is missing. Why is it so inaccessible to the knowledge industry that no solution has an integrated offering?

Organizations still spend a severe amount of time, effort, and budgets to bring together the best features across these three siloed systems under one user experience umbrella. They get overwhelmed due to the enormity of the repositories they have cumulated over their existence. This enormity falters their attempt to create an experience that suits their needs. And as it happens, they fail way too often trying to manage enormity rather than see the simplicity of bringing these aspects harmoniously.

Learning happens where there is knowledge. Knowledge enables content to be captured and consumed in learning. This, in turn, creates more understanding. It is a virtuous cycle that one needs to identify and get into.

Careers are then made. How? The right learning ecosystem maps careers, embeds every learning aspect of each milestone and enables user knowledge appraisal. It is often observed that showing a career path is rewarding both in terms of knowledge and otherwise. This creates the most influential and evolving learning ecosystems along with challenging yet productive environments. However, it is easier said than done. 

Effective integration of these three entities of LC&K (LMS CMS and KMS) provides the needed holistic learning for one and all. Here is a simple analogy from the erstwhile IT world. Think of the L as the View, C as the Controller, and the K as the Model in a typical MVC (Model View Controller) architecture. They could exist as independent layers, but the true potential is revealed only when they come together to achieve a holistic purpose: learning. 


(L) The learning experience needs to be updated to newer consumption methods – mobile devices, voice-enabled, VR / AR-enhanced, where relevant. Making any learning experiential provides for a better retention ship on the part of the learner. Scenario-based learning can put the learners through various paces of practical, real-life events to better apply the knowledge.

On-demand learning and push learning can effectively combine to complement traditional classroom learning. Blended learning still holds relevance in today’s age. Gamification embedded in learning aspects can provide an effective mechanism to improve usage, progress, and performance continuously. A practical application of the “Octalysis of gamification” is worth consideration for an LMS. 

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(LC) The learning content management layer needs to evolve to handle unstructured and structured content and disseminate effectively when demanded or required at the point of consumption. Servicing appropriate content where needed and when needed in the most straightforward manner possible is a hallmark of a sound CM system.

Also, the ease with which the system provides the learning material design ability is as vital as a yoke on a plane. Easy editing capabilities for designing structured knowledge that is easy to consume are essential to the high adoption of the LCM layer in the suite. Efficient LCMSs have to be as lightweight as the consumption itself is.

(V) The knowledge layer would form the foundation of all learning needs while maintaining a cleanly indexed repository of various structured and unstructured information to be consumed as needed. Social learning, like blogs & knowledge exchanges, is fundamental for boosting the positive traits for learning communities in the knowledge layer.

Modern machine learning capabilities that constantly understand individuals’ consumption and learning styles can be an asset to an organization to effectively put together and maintain relevant content consumed and refreshed, much like an efficient flowing water system. Not consumed content is like still water that will go to waste and contaminate the whole system. 

Millennials will form more than 75% of the workforce by 2030, and they learn very differently. They do not subscribe to the extended classroom or traditional e-learning sessions. They prefer multi-media-enabled, bite-sized consumable, just-in-time content at the luxury of their time and place, aka mobile devices!

Engaging them in this constant endeavor of learning and sharing will prove to be one of the most involving yet rewarding organizational initiatives in managing their future knowledge assets. Its people!

Alas, if only there were an integrated system comprising the wholesome goodness of LMSs, CMSs, LCMSs, and KMSs to their rescue! When “what” we learn constantly evolves, why not the “how”?

They say change is the only constant. I would go out on a limb and say, “Learning is the one constant that provides for a better change”!

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