E- learning is not only having a revolutionary effect on education, it is changing the business world as well. As of 2003, according to Simba Information e- learning in corporate America is 1.4 billion dollar industry and growing at about 10 percent a year. Custom e-learning which can be 70 to 80 percent of a companies training requires both authoring tools and what is known as custom delivery services. Often employees engage in online tutorials, and site building sometimes weekly. This means that many of the fortune 500 companies rely on authoring tools to help train their sales force, account departments, human resources, etc… These authoring tools must not only meet the needs of these companies, they must be user- friendly and trouble-free. Ten years ago companies would have to spend a great deal more time and money keeping the employees updated in the competitive business world. “ While companies often outsourced much of their custom development work to outside firms three or four years ago- when online learning will still in its nascent stage- ease of use and great functionality of authoring tools means much of it as been pulled in house. “ Simply put, now that authoring tools are easy enough for anyone to use companies find it cost effective to engage their employees in e- learning. Fueled by compitetion, companies such as XStream Software, Knowledge Anywhere, Firefly, and Cognitive Arts now dominate the hypermedia field of business.
Overall it is fascinating how valuable authoring tools have now become in business. Companies in fields like pharmaceuticals, electronics, travel, and countless other fields rely on hypermedia to educate their employees. Billions of dollars are spent, and new e- learning departments have become key to competing in complex markets. Software must be simple and met the demands of these companies. This of course is beneficial to education. With all of these companies refining the use of authoring tools, the innovation they take will no doubt trickle down into education. However, it will be interesting to observe what techniques business software companies borrow from educational software companies. Education technology companies such as Groupsmart, and educational techniques like OctoPlus may again stimulate e- learning for these corporations. Again employees like students all have unique ways they relate to and process information. It would be foolish on the part of the business software companies not to look at distance learning through e- learning. This movement by business does help to illustrate that the field of e- learning is now blooming to become a major tool of society. No one should underestimate how far these techniques and this technology will permeate.