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Thought Leaders in Mobile and Social: Interview with Bobby Yazdani, Founder and CEO of SABA (Part 2)

Posted on Wednesday, Jan 30th 2013

Sramana Mitra: That is an evolution I would say almost all enterprise software companies have gone through in the last decade.

Bobby Yazdani: That is right. But with that evolution came an operational model, retraining our enablement of our own organization to support a very different business model.

SM: I would like to focus on the product direction as it relates to mobile and social. Let’s have a look at what the market trends have been in mobile and social and how they have impacted your core business.

BY: There were early signs of social enablement in the late 1990s and early 2000s. At that time, it wasn’t mainstream, and the adoption of such technology was very light. Over the past 10 years the adoption of social technology and social experience has evolved very rapidly. There have been huge influences like Facebook, MySpace, or LinkedIn, in other words, consumer-based technologies that evolved from the experience we have with social technology. You can find all of those technologies, and a similar demand in enterprises today.

In 2007 and 2008, the iPhone was introduced. Smartphones were there, but the adoption of smartphones essentially accelerated because of the experiences the iPhone and Android brought to us. Experiences with smartphones are quite different, the things that we do with them are different, and the infrastructure around smartphones is different in terms of bandwidth, processing power, memory capabilities, and storage. Today, both social as mobile experiences have influenced our expectations of enterprises. What we find is that this is a very exciting place where we can take the work we started when the Internet was introduced and help to transform the way people learn and develop themselves in the enterprise, and augment them essentially with mobile and social capabilities. Mobile learning is a core component of our innovation strategy. Learning doesn’t necessarily happen only in classrooms anymore. Learning gets done when you, as a mobile knowledge worker, can collaborate and interact via your smartphone and participate in learning events using those devices.

SM: Is it fair to say that you still provide enterprise learning management systems and that this behavior change that you are pointing toward springs off that fundamental premise?

BY: Yes. There is a layer in our architecture that researches people’s experiences. There is another layer just below that and we call it “people engagement.” The experience is about how you experience our technology, independent of which device you use. We don’t distinguish and will never be able to distinguish our users – whether they are on their mobile devices or their laptops when they go to the website. We don’t distinguish them anymore. We think what we do has to be equally relevant across all media.

SM: However, when you think about how your enterprise customers are thinking about content production that will be served up by your system.  They have to think all this through. I think one of the behavior patterns of mobile users is that they are more into audio podcasts.

BY: That is changing, though. I can tell you a couple of things. When we talk about mobile learning, there are multiple modalities that constitute it. You can have audio, streaming videos, real-time collaborations, virtual classrooms, or self-based content. There are multiple modalities that essentially need to be enabled in a learning platform. Today, on the publishing side of the content, those tools would allow multiple modalities, so you don’t create different types of content and experience. You design it once and it gets repurposed. In a virtual classroom environment, for instance, you and I could be in the same environment right now. I could be on a mobile and you could be on a desktop, and it is our responsibility and capability to allow the experience to be relevant on each device.

This segment is part 2 in the series : Thought Leaders in Mobile and Social: Interview with Bobby Yazdani, Founder and CEO of SABA
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