Podcast 13: High-Stakes Compliance Training Trends – With Bill Mastin of NetDimensions

Why has compliance training become a strategic priority for nearly every business? How can a specialized compliance LMS help? Listen to the Talented Learning Show!

PODCAST: High-stakes compliance training trends - what should modern learning professionals know? Listen to The Talented Learning Show with analyst John Leh!


To learn more about this podcast series or to see the full collection of episodes visit The Talented Learning Show main page.



Compliance seems to be one of the most underrated topics in professional learning circles. Often, it’s dismissed as an unwanted burden. Yet for many industries, it is mission-critical. Are technology vendors responding with better compliance training solutions?

Today I explore this and other high-consequence compliance training trends with Bill Mastin, a learning systems expert who has been at the forefront of the industry for years. Bill is currently SVP at NetDimensions, a learning platform provider focused on serving companies in highly regulated industries.



  • For many organizations, compliance training plays a much more strategic role than people assume.
  • Demand for compliance training is actually expanding, with even more industries being held accountable for regulations of all kinds.
  • There are distinct differences in LMS solutions that are purpose-built to support regulatory compliance.



Before we talk about high-stakes compliance training trends, could you share some background about NetDimensions?

Sure. NetDimensions was founded in 1999 with a mission to build and market a robust learning management system.

About 10 years ago, we started focusing on solutions for high-consequence environments. And 18 months ago, we were acquired by LTG – Learning Technologies Group.

With so many recent acquisitions, LTG seems to be taking the world by storm…


Yes. LTG started in 2014 by merging two U.K. companies – Epic and LINE – to create LEO, the first anchor company. Since then, we’ve built a comprehensive portfolio of specialist solutions through strategic investments and acquisitions, including:

What’s the strategy behind all those acquisitions?

All the portfolio components can stand on their own. Each company is managed as a separate brand. Each has dedicated product management and engineering teams, making that product the best it can be for its market.

Whereas competitors with a unified platform tend to go very horizontal with capability, so some modules have very deep functionality, but other modules are thin on features because they’re not a core competency.

So it is integrated talent management and learning management. But it is also part of an ecosystem. In that way, it is differentiated from unified platforms.

So let’s say there’s a sales opportunity where three of your companies could work together to provide a solution. Do you do that?

Absolutely. Here’s an example from the high-consequence space. One of our customers is an East Coast state port authority that runs three airports.

They’ve used our LMS for a few years, and recently they needed security courseware for their third-party vendors, like taxi and food service providers. So LEO Learning came in under our existing contract and created incredible interactive content that was very engaging.

So we work together to answer to the question, “What is the best blend of services and products to fit a customer’s needs?” But we maintain our independent brands, so if a customer only needs an LMS or an authoring tool, that’s available too.

You describe your market as “highly regulated” and “high-consequence.” What do those terms mean?

We’re talking about environments where the consequences of training are high. But “high” is a subjective term. To us, it’s primarily where human lives or financial structures are at risk. For example, think about the global recession and the regulatory aftermath.

We also work with a ton of healthcare providers. They focus heavily on compliance because, if everyone on your staff hasn’t signed off on correct, consistent standard operating procedures, you’re prone to risk.

And even digital services companies like Facebook are starting to face regulatory challenges, as a result of Congress examining their business practices. Now Facebook is hiring 20,000 people to make sure human eyes are monitoring activity on the platform and managing risk-related situations.

Good point…

So I think it applies to almost every company in some way or another. And as the pendulum swings, I think we’ll see more regulation, not less.

So what does a high-consequence compliance solution look like?

Above all, it must have a laser focus on compliance reporting. There are many other features – the table stakes stuff that every learning system should have. But the real difference is in the ability to drill down deeply in an organization’s data during a compliance analysis.

You want full visibility into things like precisely when and how people are consuming content, whether they’ve read and agreed to standard operating procedures, and if they’ve added an e-signature.

Is there a definitive list of compliance challenges that pose the most risk? Or are they all about the same?

Well, there are several kinds of risk. For example, think about healthcare.

On the human side, if records are managed incorrectly or if a doctor is looking at the wrong patient record, the risk to humans is obvious. That’s why healthcare providers are highly aware of the need for everyone to be compliant and check the box.

But there’s also a significant operational business risk in healthcare. If regulations aren’t followed, it exposes a medical facility to lawsuits and financial risk.



I’ve talked with countless companies about compliance issues over the years. And if you ask them where they would prioritize an LMS among business-critical systems, it’s not at the top. In fact, you’re lucky if it’s even in the top 10. Usually they choose email, payroll and other systems that everyone says are operational must-haves.

But then ask, “What happens when you have an audit?” Immediately, for nearly everyone I’ve talked to, the LMS becomes the number one priority.

I believe that!

Well, yeah, from that perspective, you can’t operate without an LMS. But if you don’t pay much attention to an LMS until there’s an audit, that’s how mistakes happen. You really need that system working for you as a safety net before an audit occurs.

So who conducts an audit, and what’s the downside if you fail?

Each industry has its own auditing unit or regulatory agency that performs audits. And they all have unique processes.

But if you have an auditable system of record in place, whenever you need to pinpoint and resolve compliance gaps or prove to an auditor that you’re compliant, you can pull a report and feel confident about the results.

How does the new general data protection regulation (GDPR) from Europe affect your customers?

Every software company in the world has been affected by that regulation. It’s actually very good policy. When users have the ability to request that you destroy their data in your system, it really ramps up your responsibility for that data. So we made some substantial updates, and now it’s easy for organizations to administer requests for information or deletion of data.

How do employers in a highly regulated industry get rid of someone’s data? Don’t they need to archive records for compliance?

Data for active employees is one thing. In some industries, you have to maintain that data for up to 7 years. The GDPR policy provides exceptions for some of those things. What’s important to know is that you’re responsible for managing that data and reporting its status to the organization and each individual.

That’s a big job.

If you look into fines for organizations that don’t comply with GDPR, you’ll find that it is significant – up to 4% of revenues – which can be much more than an organization’s profit. That’s the kind of hit those organizations take if they don’t have systems in place to ensure compliance.

Wow. So, what advice would you give to someone wants to be sure their compliance infrastructure is sufficient?

Three things:

1) Your system should make reporting so simple that in one keystroke you have full visibility.

2) Put a process in place to measure impact – from training all the way to business outcomes. No matter how you do it (via LRS, xAPI or some other way), you need that capability.

3) Focus on alignment and communications so everyone understands the risk and reward of being an organization that values compliance.

Any organization that focuses on these things will be doing very well with respect to compliance.




How to Simplify Compliance Training: Strategies for Modern Learning Managers


Whether your organization is large or small, local or global, managing training compliance is no simple task. Each country, state, province and local municipality has its own regulations for workers in their jurisdiction. And failure to address these diverse regulations can lead to costly fines and legal penalties.

How can you avoid these risks while easing the burden of training compliance?

Join our CEO and Lead Analyst John Leh, as he sheds light on this too-often-neglected issue in a panel discussion with other experts:

  • Al Cornish, VP and CLO of Norton Healthcare
  • Bill Mastin, SVP at NetDimensions

In this fast-paced one-hour session you’ll learn:

  • Which compliance training challenges pose the biggest business risks
  • Where you can source effective compliance content
  • How to leverage group authoring and rapid content creation for custom solutions
  • Functional requirements that make or break a compliance LMS



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About John Leh (242 Articles)
John Leh is CEO and Lead Analyst at Talented Learning and the Talented Learning Center. John is a fiercely independent consultant, blogger, podcaster, speaker and educator who helps organizations select and implement learning technology strategies, primarily for extended enterprise applications. His advice is based upon more than 25+years of learning-tech industry experience, serving as a trusted LMS selection and sales adviser to hundreds of learning organizations with a total technology spend of more than $100+ million and growing. John would love to connect with you at@JohnLeh or on LinkedIn.

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