Over the last two decades, the learning management system (LMS) technology market has evolved more dramatically than any other HR or HCM technology area, and for good reason. Organizations use learning applications across every department every day, thus these systems are an integral part of any organization concerned about productivity, organizational agility and operational excellence. These technologies enable organizations to demonstrate their investment in people, as LMS not only facilitate regulatory compliance and other forms of cost avoidance but also can improve internal mobility, career growth and the employee experience. This in turn tends to improve employee productivity, retention and engagement.
The LMS of years past provided easy access to a wide range of skill enhancement opportunities, certifications and compliance-related written content. More recently, many organizations have abandoned traditional, classroom-style learning in favor of asynchronous, self-paced e-learning, often structured into a personalized curriculum along a career path. In addition, organizations increasingly are emphasizing learning the way it is actually achieved within business enterprises — informally and socially — to engage learners more effectively and ensure learners retain new collaboration, knowledge sharing, gamification and virtual agent tools within learning experiences.
Ventana Research has for two decades conducted market research in learning management as well as a spectrum of requirements in human capital management that include candidate engagement, continuous payroll, the employee experience, total compensation management and workforce management. Our continuous research and analysis of the market for business applications and technologies guide our comprehensive approach to our recently published Value Index on Learning Management Systems.
Today’s best-in-class learning management platforms use a broad, robust set of capabilities and emerging technologies to personalize the learning experience and support each learner’s personal goals, aspirations and learning pace. Most instruction is now video-based and often enables comments and messaging. Vendors have made significant advances in how organizations curate content, and AI and machine learning capabilities have revolutionized how content is recommended to employees and external partners.
Learning Management Systems not only facilitate regulatory compliance and other forms of cost avoidance but also can improve internal mobility and career growth.
These innovations have given rise to an emerging LMS category known as learning experience platforms (LXP). This category focuses on delivering personalized, learner-driven and immersive learning experiences in order to keep the workforce engaged and productive. This represents a major attitudinal shift in the enterprise learning domain, away from what the organization requires of the individual and toward what the employer and the employee are each interested in and expect from each other.
Organizations are becoming increasingly interested in what is referred to as the “Netflix model” — that is, a system that suggests content based on an employee’s interests, usage patterns and feedback. More and more organizations desire an LMS that not only delivers relevant and appealing content to learners, but delivers it via the medium the learner prefers, whether watching, listening, reading or a combination of the three. In addition, organizations are delivering smaller pieces of content to support “just-in-time” and “in-the-flow-of-work” learning and are gravitating toward content that they can deliver in short increments, sometimes in 10 minutes or less.
New digital technologies such as AI do more than just facilitate a more personalized learning experience. They also provide valuable guidance — on, for example, the best learning medium to use for each learner and learning scenario. Thus, organizations can maximize learning outcomes and as a result, their return on investment (ROI).
LMS investments already are delivering considerable value to many organizations but knowing in advance when a learning intervention would be most impactful, with whom, and using which mediums and modalities will further improve their impact. This is why business cases for LMS investments are no longer focused primarily on compliance management and skill augmentation, but also on the significant value of knowing the optimal timing, medium, content and target employees for learning initiatives.
LMS applications are now designed for blended forms of learning that feature rich, personalized experiences and a near-limitless range of content.
LMS applications are now designed for blended forms of learning that feature rich, personalized experiences and a near-limitless range of content to support both personal and organizational goals and interests. With access to more types of learner content, employees can better collaborate and learn from each other, sharing and using peer-to-peer learning to speed the transfer of knowledge across the organization. And since social media includes real-time chat, content feeds, messaging apps, internal wikis and other content creation and engagement tools, learners potentially can access knowledge that is not formally cataloged, labeled or stored in traditional presentation forms. Moreover, cross-fertilization from the world of consumer social media can include the repurposing of tools such as peer ratings, which can help identify content relevant to learners.
We believe that over the next few years as capabilities such as recommendation engines and embedded social collaboration tools become a standard requirement, vendors will invest in several newer product capability advances. These include more user-friendly authoring tools so organizations can create new learning assets from existing ones, as well as adaptive learning. In this learning model, the platform gauges a learner’s mastery of the subject and adapts learning delivery to more efficiently help the learner achieve proficiency or a personal goal. Finally, we expect to see more simulations and other instruments that provide evidence of understanding.
The Value Index on Learning Management Systems evaluates 12 vendors’ products on an RFP model across seven categories of requirements. Five are product-related, assessing usability, manageability, reliability, capability and adaptability, while two quantify the customer assurance issues of vendor validation and total cost of ownership and return on investment (TCO/ROI). We urge organizations considering an upgrade in their LMS to examine both our evaluation methodology and our findings.
This research-based index is the most comprehensive assessment of the value of learning management systems (LMS) software in the industry. You can learn more about our Value Index as an effective vendor selection and RFI/RFP tool here and participating vendors can learn more about how to use the Value Index here.