What's a Cloud LMS and Do You Really Need One?

Allyson Lerner ·

Jan 10, 2022

A cloud LMS runs through a browser, with the software being maintained and hosted by the service provider in return for a monthly subscription fee. This way, the end-user doesn’t have to install any specific hardware or software to use the LMS. All they need is an internet-connected device. It gives your learners — customers, employees, partners, gig workers, etc. — instant access, anywhere, on any device. 

One of the biggest challenges today’s businesses face is the need to scale their training and onboarding programs across increasingly distributed workforces. Traditionally, such programs involved on-site instructors and sharing reading materials and other content that people would take home with them.

A learning management system (LMS) supports the administration and delivery of educational courses and training and onboarding programs. These software applications were originally installed on the user’s computer; however, modern LMSs are usually provided in the form of software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions hosted in the cloud.

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Why’s a cloud LMS better for today’s businesses?

The cloud LMS market is growing rapidly and for good reason. With remote work being the new normal, today’s businesses need a scalable and readily accessible solution to get their teams and customers up to speed. A cloud-based platform is accessible from any internet-connected device in any location, which means that learners can log in through a web portal, no matter where they are, and get to learning.

There are several business use cases for a cloud LMS. Among the most important are customer onboarding and employee training. 

First, getting customer onboarding right increases customer retention and reduces churn. From another perspective, acquiring a new customer can cost 5X more than retaining an existing customer. So it’s good business sense to keep your current customers in the know and easily. Using a cloud LMS gives customers control of when and how they choose to learn your product.

Second. Did you know it takes an average of eight months for new hires to reach peak productivity? Implementing a consistent and readily accessible way for them to get up to speed quickly is vital for reducing costs and improving efficiency. For example, businesses can use their LMSs to train audiences in proprietary knowledge, such as brand guidelines and best practices.

An LMS can also be used for onboarding suppliers, stakeholders, and other external parties. Of course, an LMS plays a central role in the delivery of online education too. In the era of e-learning, the modern cloud-hosted LMS has become an invaluable tool in the education sector itself.

By contrast, a desktop-based LMS relies heavily on the software and hardware of the device it is running on. This makes it much harder to provide a consistent experience. 

What are the Cloud LMS benefits?

Here are some of the most noteworthy advantages of using a cloud LMS:

  1. Handle Complex Workloads

    Cloud-based solutions run off data center hardware and software, which is far more powerful and scalable. As such, cloud technologies can greatly augment the limited capabilities of the typical laptop or smartphone. Since all computing work is handled off-site, a cloud-based LMS has the power to handle large and complex workflows, such as enhanced data analytics and even virtual and augmented reality.
  2. Scale and Adapt With Demand

    A locally hosted LMS is limited by the hardware and operating system it is running on. Even if the software is hosted in an internal data center, a significant increase in demand may warrant costly upgrades. A cloud LMS, on the other hand, runs in a major data center, which means it has practically unlimited capacity. There’s no need to worry about costly hardware upgrades. Instead, you can simply add and remove users and pay only for the capacity you need. This makes the SaaS option far more cost-effective.
  3. Instant, Anywhere Access

    A cloud LMS is readily accessible not only to learners, but also to teachers and trainers. Since the software runs off a remote server, there’s no need to install anything on the local device either. This also means that trainers can get started creating their online learning portals right away. They can brand their portals, create courses, upload content, manage enrollments, and track progress all from within the same convenient web-based interface. Moreover, most cloud LMSs closely resemble platforms that many people use every day, such as social media, so the learning curve is minimal.
  4. Reduced Management Burden

    All software and hardware need maintenance and upgrades to ensure that performance and availability are always up to expectations. However, cloud-hosted software is maintained and kept up to date by the service provider. They will be responsible for things like security patches and feature updates, thereby eliminating the management burden. In other words, you don’t need an internal IT team. Instead, you can focus on creating your course content, instead of getting bogged down in the complexities of technology.
  5. Keep Costs to a Minimum

    Traditionally, virtually all software applications were acquired under a one-time purchase. Any maintenance and upgrades were the responsibility of the company and often incurred extra costs. These ongoing costs are notoriously difficult to predict, especially when it comes to the resolution of unforeseen issues. With cloud-hosted software, there are typically no upfront costs involved, and the only ongoing expense is the subscription fee. These fees are typically charged on a per-user basis. That way, you have complete visibility into long-term expenses, thus helping you budget more effectively and keep track of your return on investment.

Who Should Use a Cloud-hosted LMS? 

Most businesses can benefit from using a cloud LMS, regardless of their industry. However, the advantages are especially noteworthy for fast-growing companies that are currently finding it difficult to keep up with the demands of employee training and onboarding. The same is also true of companies providing proprietary knowledge to ever-increasing customer headcounts. 

Purchasing a cloud learning platform makes life easier for many business departments, such as field operations, human resources, product teams, and sales and marketing teams. If you need a consistent and highly accessible way to provide training content to your team, then a cloud LMS is exactly what you need.

Will a Cloud LMS Work for My Business?

Northpass gives you the freedom to create, manage, and scale your learning and onboarding programs exactly the way you want. Request your demo today to see for yourself how it works.

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About the Author

Allyson Lerner

Allyson heads up Product Management at Northpass. When she's not busy solving problems, she's definitely playing Rock Band.

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