So IBM snapped up Kenexa a couple of weeks ago for US$ 1.26 billion in deal that will expand its enterprise social networking footprint, but it didn’t say a lot about what it was hoping to do, nor what it was buying until this week’s release of Learning Suite 3.0.

Had it not been for the IBM buy this might have slipped under the radar as Learning Suite appears to operate principally in the very focused human resources space. However, looking at what it does, the possibilities for IBM are quite broad given the amount of business Big Blue does through its services portfolio.

Social Learning

Not that Learning Suite is a service.  It's a training tool that appears to be in the process of expanding its role in knowledge sharing and collaboration as well as acting as a training tool.

Among the social features that come with Learning Suite 3.0 are networking, interactive elements, knowledge sharing and collaboration along with a Learning Content Management system and, most importantly, mobile learning capabilities.

According to Rudy Karsan, CEO and co-founder of Kenexa, social learning now accounts for 80% of the learning that takes place inside the enterprise.

He doesn’t cite where that figure comes from and it seems a tad high, but there is no doubt that, increasingly, social tools are being used in the learning and training processes across companies, and any learning suite that is not completely up to speed with social tools is not going to make the cut in the market.

Learning Suite v3.0

Seems this won’t be a problem with v3.0:

Our new Kenexa Learning Suite with a Social LMS fuses social capabilities with the formal learning process, adding networking, collaboration and knowledge sharing to the online formal learning process. This fusion helps employees perform better in their roles, and provides greater job satisfaction as well as better overall performance for the company,” Karsan said. Among the new features in this version are:

Features of the latest version include:

  • New interface that manages all student content
  • Newly designed homepage that provides access to all course, assignments, groups, workspaces and search
  • Quick links to detailed assignment views
  • Explore tabs for all documents, files, expertise exchanges and postings, as well as teaching videos

And there’s a lot more. Kenexa’s Learning Suite 3.0, however, is not just an interdepartmental tool. It is capable of providing training to Fortune 1000 companies – companies with more than 10,000 employees, and with the social features expanded it will be able to offer knowledge-sharing over dispersed geographies.

Kenexa also points out that it is easy enough to customize the suite and set up multiple levels of review and approvals for it, as well as offer support for virtual classrooms through Adobe Connect integration.

When IBM bought Kenexa it said it would be integrating Kenexa's recruitment and talent management functionality into its existing social business technology offerings.

It didn’t say then, and there is no indication with this release how it is going to do this. However, US$1.26 billion is too much of an investment to be left idle for too long. Let’s see where Big Blue goes with this.