Expert Perspectives on Content Modernization


Business ecosystems are very dynamic. In a growing organization, everything from tools and technology to delivery platforms, to distribution methods, to tracking and compliance methods and last but not the least modern-day learners’ expectations, demand continuous change. In addition, there are also compelling situations like the Covid 19 Pandemic that accelerate this need further.

The L&D teams can ready their organizations for the future by ensuring that the learning experiences they create are contemporary, align with the needs of business/learners, and are integrated with the flow of work. Creating new content every time is obviously not the right approach. The solution lies in Modernization.

Modernization is an intelligent strategy that helps organizations reuse, repurpose and re-design existing content to make it relevant, effective, engaging, and attractive to the current learning preferences. In this post, I bring you excerpts from my conversation with a ‘modernization veteran’ Dipti Jana, Delivery Manager with Harbinger Interactive Learning who comes with an enviable reputation of leading a variety of successful modernization projects.

Based on her in-depth on-the-field experience, Dipti (DJ) gives a comprehensive 360 view on modernization.

Why Modernize?

Q: What are the compelling reasons for organizations to modernize their content?

DJ: I have worked with various customers to help them modernize their content. There seemed five key common reasons why they chose modernization as a strategy.

  • Compliance – Need to make the courses compliant to newly mandated/revised regulatory compliance standards.
  • Rebranding – Mergers and acquisitions drive the need to change the look and feel for better and aligned learner experience.
  • Maintainability – Unavailability or limited availability of people, technology, course packages, or other resources to maintain legacy courses. For example, old content being in Storyline 1, Lectora 11, Flash or even older versions of LMSs (learning management systems) which are notsupported anymore.
  • Dated design and user experience – Need to align learner experience with the expectations of next generation of learners.Design style changes every few years. So, keeping the visual design of the courses as per new standards rather than making the course look outdated is critical for off the shelf content.
  • Investment – Cost of redeveloping the courses from scratch while the legacy content is still relevant.

Choosing the Right Partner

Q: How should content modernization implementation partners be evaluated?

DJ: A smart, thought through approach to modernization certainly includes paying due attention to getting the right partner onboard. Here are some of the important attributes that may help you decide who to go with.

“We at Harbinger have designed a comprehensive modernization framework. This includes processes perfected over time, rich library of automation tools to handle various challenges of working with legacy content, custom trackers and reporting mechanism, standard communication protocols, standards checklists, guidelines, a strong core team of modernization experts, and a scalable pool of resources who have been working on multiple modernization projects.”

The first and foremost thing to watch out for, according to me, would be experience. This is to make sure that the team is capable of handling various challenges like non-availability of legacy course packages, handling of obsolete technology, conversion of interactions which are not supported in new tools/technologies without compromising learners’ experience, and so on. Experienced partners also tend to engage for longer durations, hence providing better predictability.

Another important aspect would be to check for the availability of tools and techniques for handling volumes. Efficiency building tools and techniques like automation frameworks, asset re-use, and well-established processes involving sprint-based development, continuous feedback and tracking mechanism, are crucial in success of modernization projects.

It is also necessary to assess whether your partner has the ability to scale up and down as often as required – Modernization, as a business strategy, requires ability to convert in batches. These batches could vary in size depending on the go-to-market strategy. Maintaining fixed size team at all timeis not cost effective.

Modernization Benefits

Q: You have helped multiple companies with their content modernization efforts. How have companies/learning organizations benefited from this exercise?

DJ: Harbinger’s xSMART framework is specifically designed to address large scale modernization requirements in a cost-effective and rapid manner. Our customers have reported multiple benefits on completion of their modernization projects. I am happy to bring to you some of these numbers here.

By improving visual and instruction design and enabling courses to open across range of smart devices and platforms, the learner engagement is reported to increase by 25-30% after modernization.

Enabling micro learning has increased ROI on modernized courses as the same content can be distributed in multiple modalities. In one of our projects, we modernized 600+ hours of learning, and client was able to create more than a thousand microlearning nuggets.

Harbinger’s xSMART framework helps address the challenge of volumes very strategically. Volume conversion helps bring modernization cost per course down by almost 75-80%. With technological enhancements in the courses, overall reduction in maintenance costs for the courses, and the number of support tickets has come down to the tune of 60-70% for our clients.

Last but not the least, with Harbinger’s xSMART framework, modernization time for each course reduces by 60-70%.

Success Factors

Q: What does it take for content modernization projects to be successful?

DJ: Our experience of handling a variety of clientshailing from multiple domainsover the years, has given us a good understanding of what it takes to handle different levels of legacy content. Irrespective of how the content gets generated in the organization and where it resides, here are some fundamental hygiene factors that ensure successful implementation:

  • High level of collaboration – All stakeholders need to be closely in-sync and should be able to take quick decisions. This reduces the turnaround time.
  • Proper investment in the design phase – Design phase sets the stage for volume conversion. Deciding on templates, features, processes, quality parameters, development checklists, automation, all are very critical to build in efficiency in the volume development phase.
  • Dedicated team, with flexibility to scale up and down – volumes thrive on efficiency. Having a dedicated team helps build this efficiency.
  • Framework of automation toolkit, processes, standards, skills, collaboration tools, which can address the challenges of modernization.
  • Experience – teams who have handled several modernization projects are more aware of the problems which can arise, and have quite a few tools and workarounds in their kitty to overcome these problems.

Dipti Jana, Delivery Manager with Harbinger Interactive Learning, is a seasoned veteran in the IT spectrum and comes with an overall experience of 26 years. Having worn several hats in her professional portfolio, Dipti has harnessed her experience to add great value to the knowledge and learning business domain.

Additional Resource:

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Content Modernization: Smart Strategies for Legacy Content

Digital transformation will continue to be at the center of organizational priorities in 2021, but to be ‘transformative’, organizations must revive and re-align their content. The L&D teams must think of contemporary strategies that will empower them to meet the expectations of the business and the modern learner.

Harbinger Interactive Learning had the privilege of hosting highly accomplished L&D leaders for an engaging and interactive Power Hour discussion titled Content Modernization: Smart Strategies for Legacy Content. The panelists included Paul Schneider (Ph.D., SVP Business Development at dominKnow Inc.), Praveena Mitran (Digital Learning Lead at Bahwan CyberTek), and Rohan Bhosle (Associate Director at Harbinger Interactive Learning). The discussion was led and facilitated by Dr. Vikas Joshi (CEO, Harbinger Group).

Content Modernization 101

“Content modernization refers to extending the life of learning content that an organization has already invested in – by keeping it relevant, current, and fresh”.

Dr. Vikas Joshi set the pace of the discussion with this simple explanation of the core theme.

According to Praveena, modernization entails more than merely switching technologies or making the transition from Flash to HTML5. It’s all about what it would take to attain the anticipated business outcomes, she said.

Paul’s connect with modernization stems from his interest in ‘what’s next’. His approach to modernization is learner-centric with a specific focus on enabling people to develop content that aligns with their exact moment of need.

Investments in Learning Content

‘What is the big deal about content’, one may ask.

Industry data reveals how there are significant investments made by organizations in various aspects of their learning content.

According to Brandon Hall Group’s Learning Benchmarking Study, over 35% of the L&D budget is allocated to content, as much as seven figures worth in many large organizations. The image below tells the whole story. That’s where content modernization’s drivers come into play.


Source: Brandon Hall Group’s Learning Benchmarking Study 2020

Read Why Modernize Learning Content? Things you Need to Know for more useful information.

What’s driving modernization – Disruptions in eLearning

Throughout the decade eLearning industry has not just survived but thrived and grown many folds. According to Dr. Joshi, if there’s one overarching driver for content modernization, it’s the technology disruptions that have happened over a period of time. Right from the times of the internet to the mobile revolution with iPad, the cellular phones, the BYOD, and now the remote learning. Each of these disruptions is a driver of modernization, he elaborated.

Extrapolating from his team’s experience of helping a variety of customers with their modernization requests, Dr. Joshi classified modernization requests into the following categories:

5-types of modernization requests

5-types of modernization requests

“These requests give us a lens to determine what kind of strategies to use”, Dr. Joshi explained.

What was interesting and insightful about the panel discussion was the in-depth analysis of some of the hot buttons in content modernization. Praveena spoke from the perspective of an instructional designer, emphasizing on putting the learner in the middle of the entire experience. “We must start with where learners are”, she insisted. She touched upon user-centric models such as CCAF (Context, Challenge, Activity, and Feedback) which help develop a successful implementation strategy for modernization.

Listen to the Power Hour to understand more about the CCAF model.

Paul opted to focus more on enablement. “Just a responsive design is not enough,” he said. “You need to have the right tools that help you do that”. While emphasizing on the aspect of‘enabling learning’Paul introduced the idea of a ‘universal design’ and elaborated on its significance.

Do listen in to understand this better.

Rohan walked everyone through the xSmart framework that Harbinger has designed to aid modernization.

xSmart Framework

xSMART framework is a solution accelerator designed for teams to successfully implement and execute a content modernization strategy. This framework is an enabler to handle large-scale modernization projects using automation to develop searchable(S), micro(M), responsive(R), and trackable(T) digital learning material.

Harbinger’s xSmart Framework

Harbinger’s xSmart Framework

With competition increasing rapidly, it becomes crucial for businesses to look for methodologies that can create a lasting learning experience. Watch the Power Hour session, now available on-demand, to learn more about the strategies and approaches for implementing successful content modernization.

What are your thoughts on modernizing legacy content? Have you come across any other factors which might be driving the need for content modernization?

Please write in the comment section or drop us a line at: to discuss more.

Content Modernization: A ‘Must Have’ Transformational Strategy

It is the time of the year, when L&D practitioners take a stock of the months gone by and turn towards strategizing for the critical focus areas of the organization. This primarily includes planning the budget for different tools and systems and utilizing the budget effectively to gain maximum returns on the investments made. However, at times, what tends to get overlooked is the legacy content stuck in old technology and systems. Content modernization – the answer to tap existing learning materials and align those with the new-age learners’ needs – is the strategy L&D stakeholders need to actively consider.

This is not about “repackaging content” but is in fact, a transformational strategy to deliver business results by creating new and unique experiences for the learners. Modernization makes content more accessible for the learners and presents it in a format which learners would love to go through. Simply put, modernization is the key to improve content usage and adoption.

To make it easier for organizations to understand the several aspects of modernization, Brandon Hall Group, the leading HCM research and analyst firm, recently launched an eBook titled, ‘Why Modernize Learning Content? Things You Need to Know’ in partnership with Harbinger Interactive Learning. By leveraging Brandon Hall’s research-based analysis and Harbinger’s extensive experience in implementing content modernization solutions, this eBook combines industry insights and business intelligence to illustrate the importance of taking a strategic approach followed by a well-designed execution plan for content modernization.

Why Content Modernization Matters

According to Brandon Hall Group’s Learning Benchmarking Study, content accounts for as much as seven figures worth of L&D budget in many large organizations.

These figures emphasize that when it comes to strategizing, it is worth considering what an organization already has and how it can make the most of the content. Typically, organizations have a massive volume of documents in their existing legacy systems. The problem arises when deciding on which ones should be moved, and which should stay. What can be safely archived or deleted? The eBook is unique, in that sense, as it rightly points out the intelligent approach to what can be reused, repurposed, and replaced. It helps organizations identify the criteria to sift through the existing content and achieve their goal of making curated content easily available.

A Smart Framework for Content Migration

Harbinger, a Brandon Hall Group Smartchoice® Preferred Provider, has a “SMART” Framework that organizations can leverage for the modernization of their learning content. It provides a comprehensive solution to cover all the aspects of content modernization, namely, making the content searchable, accessible, responsive, trackable, as well as curating bite-sized learning elements. The expertise that Harbinger brings in is well covered in the eBook. In fact, Harbinger has recently assisted in the modernization of eLearning courses for a catalog learning solutions provider. The client had developed over 500 courses in Articulate Presenter and wished to keep up with the changing technologies, advancement of devices, and the need for a modern learning experience for the learners. Harbinger provided an innovative and rapid course development approach that unified experience across the courses in the catalog.

Harbinger has also helped in the modernization of legacy courses for a digital publishing company. The client had a library of over 500 courses which were developed using legacy tools like Flash and Articulate Presenter. Unfortunately, the end-users faced issues accessing these courses as the latest browsers do not support Flash. Harbinger converted the legacy Flash content to HTML5 XML framework so that the courses were moved to a more modern format.

Modernization: The Need of the Hour

Looking at the requirements of modern-day learners as well as the requirements of the future workplace, organizations need to increasingly focus on modernizing their legacy content. Topped with other factors like technology disruptions and scaling digital transformation, it becomes all the more imperative to look at modernization as a transformational strategy to deliver business results. To achieve this, L&D practitioners need to find an industry partner to optimize technology, to craft unique learning experiences for modern learners. This partner will help in optimizing the content, both in terms of the money spent as well as bringing in the content effectiveness.

If you are considering content modernization to align your strategic business objectives, download a free copy of the eBook to know how the L&D function can maximize its content value.

Content Modernization Strategy: Need of the Hour

To adapt to technology disruptions and meet the modern-day learners’ demands, many organizations are looking at modernizing their existing learning material. But modernization is not only about repackaging an ‘old wine in a new bottle’, but it should ideally be looked at as a transformational strategy to deliver business results by creating new and unique experiences for the learners. In fact, it should be embraced as an opportunity:

  • For business leaders to align strategic objectives
  • For L&D heads to transition from a culture of training to a culture of learning
  • For HR as an ongoing upskilling initiative
  • For people leaders to provide learning in the flow of work

Having said the above, modernization comes with its fair share of challenges. In order to arrive at a robust and proven modernization framework that can be successfully implemented, it is absolutely essential to spend efforts on understanding the key factors that are driving the need for modernization. Here are a couple of factors that could be considered while designing a modernization strategy:

Technology disruptions

There are multiple technology disruptions that are happening all around us. Technology in itself has undergone numerous transformational processes impacting the way learning is delivered, perceived, and consumed. While organizations need to leverage technology to meet the need of the hour; the modernization strategy has to factor in this reality by future-proofing the content for new technological disruptions.

Skill Gaps

The Covid 19 pandemic has suddenly accelerated the need for new workforce skills. According to a new McKinsey Global Survey on future workforce needs, nearly nine in ten executives and managers say their organizations either face skill gaps already or expect gaps to develop within the next five years. Owing to the new generation of learners and needs of modern-day workplace, new skill areas are popping up regularly. Closing on the skills gap and enabling employee growth should be one of the strategic themes of the modernization initiative.

The Modern-day Learner

The profile, preference and habits of learners keep on changing because society, workplace, and technology continue to evolve. While the modernization initiative should account for the needs of the modern-day learner, it should not be limited just to millennials and Gen Z. It should be more holistic, starting right from the baby boomers.


As content owners, one of the key things is to ensure that we are able to maintain content that we are developing. For instance, a pharma company has to ensure that the content is updated as per latest FDA regulations. The other aspect of maintenance is the variety of technology infrastructure that is being used to deliver content. Today you might have a SCORM LMS in place and you design and develop content for it, but tomorrow, if an xAPI compliant LMS comes into picture, the requirement would be to pass data into the Learning Record Store (LRS) of the LMS. The modernization strategy should account for such technology changes and make content available in a format which could be easily transitioned.

Have you come across any other factors which might be driving the need for content modernization? You can write to us at and we would be happy to have a conversation.