Having recently completed the 2023 Ventana Research Value Index for Learning Management Systems (LMS), I’d like to share some of my observations about how the market has advanced since our assessment three years ago.
The evolution of the LMS technology market has accelerated exponentially as a result of shifts in employer and worker expectations that occurred during the pandemic and continue today. Learning management systems are an integral resource for any organization concerned with productivity, organizational agility and operational excellence. These technologies enable organizations to demonstrate an investment in people, as the LMS not only facilitates regulatory and legal compliance and other forms of cost and risk avoidance but also improves internal mobility, career growth and the employee experience, leading to improved productivity, engagement and retention.
As in years past, the LMS still provides easy access to a wide selection of job skill training programs, certifications and compliance-related written content and assessment. Beyond compliance, many organizations have placed new emphasis on learning, based on a combination of business requirements and workers’ desired career paths, focusing on identifying and closing skills gaps required for career development in alignment with future business needs. Many organizations have abandoned traditional, classroom-style learning in favor of asynchronous, self-paced e-learning. In addition, organizations are increasingly emphasizing learning the way it is actually achieved within business enterprises — informally, socially and within the flow of work. To engage learners more effectively and ensure they retain new information, organizations are embedding social collaboration, knowledge sharing, and gamification directly within the tools workers already access regularly, so that learning becomes a cultural norm rather than a separate destination.
Today’s best-in-class learning management platforms use a robust set of capabilities and emerging technologies to personalize the learning experience and support each learner’s individual professional 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 artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) capabilities have revolutionized how content is recommended to employees and external partners.
These innovations have given rise to an LMS category known as learning experience platforms (LXPs). 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 a more mutual arrangement that reflects the interests of both the employer and the employee, as well as what each expects from the other.
Organizations are becoming increasingly interested in software that suggests content based on an employee’s interests, usage patterns and feedback, reflective of the continued movement toward consumerization of the experience in HCM technology products. More and more, organizations desire an LMS that not only provides relevant and appealing content to learners but delivers it via the medium the learner prefers, whether video, audio, written material 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 can be consumed in short increments, sometimes in 10 minutes or less. Technology providers have made significant advances in how organizations create, curate and deliver content, and AI/ML capabilities have revolutionized how and where content is recommended to the learners consuming it. As a result, organizations can optimize learning outcomes, tie those outcomes to productivity, and maximize ROI.
Investments in LMS also support organizations’ environmental, social and governance (ESG) efforts, the disclosure of which are now largely required by the Securities and Exchange Commission for public companies, as well as other regulatory bodies, and increasingly evaluated by candidates when considering job opportunities. Social and environmental responsibility encompasses a wide range of topics, but the expectation is that organizations create, communicate and operate according to a set of values that permeate the workplace culture and demonstrate commitment to issues like diversity, equity and equality, pay equity, pay transparency and environmental sustainability. Investment in LMS can help formalize communication and training around these issues, leading to better democratization of closing skills gaps through AI-recommended learning and development to encourage career growth for everyone. Reduction in carbon footprint is also a benefit, accomplished by moving learning away from paper and into the cloud. These benefits must be measurable for organizations to accurately reflect efforts in these areas. Learning platforms can document and report on measures taken to communicate an organization’s stance on ESG-related issues and measure worker actions in alignment with these objectives.
Beyond pure capabilities, software providers must have a deep and continuing understanding of the ever-changing requirements associated with organizational learning. Moreover, that understanding must translate into the vendor-client relationship in the form of education, consultation and delivery. That delivery includes software capabilities but also transference of knowledge related to the regulatory environment, shifts in worker expectations related to learning, and how changes in other integrated technologies will impact an organization’s content creation and learning delivery, all in support of the vendor’s commitment to customer success beyond the sale.
I believe that over the next few years, as capabilities like recommendation engines and embedded social collaboration tools become a requirement, vendors will invest in a variety of 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 help the learner achieve proficiency more efficiently or a personal goal. Finally, I expect to see more simulations and other instruments that provide evidence of competency and understanding.
You can find more details on our site as well as in the Value Index Market Report.