Saba’s Home in the Cloud

Last week was Saba’s @work Summit in Orlando, and it was clear that there was something new in the air (or in the cloud at least). Fresh off of the resignation of Bobby Yazdani amid accounting issues that threatened Saba’s listing on the NASDAQ, there was a palpable sense of renewal and optimism at the event.


Much of that optimism was fueled by the suite of offerings Saba now has under the @work banner. Claiming they are no longer a software company but a cloud company, Saba offers Learning, Performance, Collaboration, Recruiting, Succession and Planning as cloud based solutions, with a compensation module soon to follow.

It was a grand event, with lights, music, “happy dancers” and even a live band. But even without the bells and whistles, it really does seem like the company has a very positive outlook under new President and CEO Shawn Farshchi. Saba brought in some great customer stories, highlighted, in my opinion, by Guitar Center and that company’s embrace and execution of social media tools for learning.

Rather than go through a laundry list of features and functions, all of which you can find on Saba’s own website, I want to highlight some of the more interesting things I saw and heard while I was in Orlando:

TIM. Saba introduced us to TIM, The Intelligent Mentor. We’ve been hearing about Big Data for a long time now, but what we haven’t heard a lot about is what to do with it. Saba has taken big data, analytics and a little bit of social and wrapped it up into what is essentially an intelligent recommendation engine, similar to what you might find on By gathering information about learners through their profiles, as well as their behavior within the system, TIM is able to make recommendations as to who may make a good mentor for you, what courses may be helpful, or even people within the organization you should be following.

TIM takes the idea of contextualized learning right down to the individual level. There are also numerous other potential applications across the suite of talent management offerings. TIM could recommend an open position to you if you meet certain criteria, when otherwise you might not even know the position was open. TIM could alert managers if it looks like they have a person in the wrong role and they could be more successful somewhere else. The one thing that concerns me is that I would hate to see the TIM avatar become like Microsoft’s paper clip, “Clippy,” constantly popping up and asking things like, “I see you’re attempting to complete you compliance training, perhaps this course can help?” Word to the wise, Clippy didn’t last long.

Drag and Drop Integration. One of the coolest things I’ve seen in a while, Saba has a whole new interface for integrating the @work platform with external services. Maybe you need to synch up with Workday, or perhaps your learners could benefit from content from Open Sesame. Saba’s solution allows you to simply grab the icon for the service you need and drag it to the integration bar. Enter your-log in info and you’re synched. That’s it. Default permissions and settings can be changed if necessary, but the integration works right away. In the case of a service like Open Sesame, an admin can go into the site, select the content they need, and the relevant courses and libraries within [email protected] are populated.

In-Line Player. The last thing I’ll mention is the platform’s ability to play content in what appears to be a separate player, but in reality is playing within the page you are on. Why is this significant? Judging by the applause for this feature at the event, many people have had challenges in the past with pop-up blockers for web browsers preventing content from launching properly. Sometimes it’s the little things, right?

David Wentworth, Senior Learning Analyst, Brandon Hall Group


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