Software giant Oracle has launched the first version of its iLearning management suite that users can run themselves, but has denied that the move is due to low uptake of the hosted version of the product.
iLearning version 4 fully integrates with Oracle's ebusiness suite allowing customers to link the administration of training with front- and back-office systems including finance, human resources and purchasing.
But even though a hosted version of the product has been available on the market for over a year, Oracle has signed only one UK customer.
Last year Vodafone signed a deal for 53,000 users - Oracle's biggest deal for iLearning to date - but the implementation of the hosted suite is yet to be completed and Vodafone is refusing to comment on the success of the project.
But, officially at least, Oracle remains bullish about the potential market for enterprise learning products, despite admitting that getting customers to justify the initial investment is still a hard sell.
Susan Venter, education marketing manager at Oracle, maintained that there was still a lot of interest in the product.
"A lot of people seem to be evaluating the system but it's not a two to three month sell. It took seven months to sell to Vodafone - it's effectively a corporate university they're setting up," she said.
Other commentators believe that training is still seen as a 'nice to have' rather than a business necessity, particularly when times are tough.
Clive Shepherd, a director at the Institute of IT training, said that it was much harder for companies to get training money at the moment and nearly impossible to get budgets for big systems like the Oracle suite.
"This is the worst possible combination," he explained. "I can't imagine many company directors saying: 'Times are tough, we should be investing in training.'"
Enhancements in iLearning version 4 mean that any access to online training is automatically updated in an individual's online training history within the Oracle competency tracking and human resource management system.
The new version also allows users to manage and create classroom and instructor resources, limit enrolments and create self-updating waiting lists.
Reporting and progress monitoring have been enhanced to include limited test attempts, timed tests, quick quizzes and the ability to set multiple-choice questions.
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