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The LMS Is Dead. Long Live the LMS.

February 15, 2017, Theresa Damato - In this big, bold world of instant online content we live in, your users are not really sitting around waiting for someone to tell them what to learn. They’re educating themselves, improving their skills and collaborating and learning from experts.
The LMS Is Dead. Long Live the LMS.

OMG, the LMS is dead. That could be what’s running through your mind as a learning leader, especially if you’ve just read “Learning Leaders, Get Used to Disruption.” In the article, talent industry visionary Josh Bersin talks about how the traditional LMS is being “pushed aside” in favor of “learning experience platforms.”

Now it’s certainly true that we live in a digital, “always on” world, and just about everything we can dream of consuming is right there online, whenever we want it. And when you think about all that free-wheeling learning content out in the ether, just waiting for us to find it and digest it, it stands to reason that the concept of “learning management” and the term LMS start to feel as retro as your CD collection.

Clearly, the consumerization of everything is more than a passing trend. Learning technology, just like any other technology, needs to evolve to meet the needs of its users. And in this big, bold world of instant online content we live in, your users are not really sitting around waiting for someone to tell them what to learn. They’re reading HBR articles, watching TED Talks, taking Lynda.com classes, joining Quora discussions and sharing advice on LinkedIn. They’re educating themselves, improving their skills and collaborating and learning from experts. And they’re doing it outside the purview of your LMS.  

So then the LMS is dead, right?

Well, not so fast. While anytime, anywhere, any way learning is what the user wants (and obviously needs these days), where does that leave learning leaders who still need to deliver, manage and track corporate training? What about compliance and auditing? What about the talent leaders who are trying to connect learning to individual performance and career paths, or analyze the impact learning has on business metrics or employee engagement?

How is all the “not very cool, but critically important to my business” stuff going to get done now?

By virtue of what the acronym stands for, learning management, tracking and reporting have always been and will continue to be mission critical to business. For example, healthcare providers still need to know if their clinicians successfully completed Meaningful Use compliance training, or are maintaining their required certifications to practice. A global distribution organization for example, still needs to know that all their new hires completed their required safety training before operating equipment or getting on that forklift. Layer department on top of department over thousands of employees all over the world, and you’re facing a tracking, logging and auditing situation that can start to get complicated very quickly.

And what is the end goal of learning after all, if not to improve individual performance, and move the needle on business objectives? As a learning and talent leader, it’s now a business imperative to prove the value of your team’s resources and your investments in technology, in the form of tangible business impact. For instance, did your sales team drive more revenue as a result of their training and enablement programs? Is the training you’re providing to your customer support team moving the needle on customer satisfaction and your organization’s NPS score?

Well, as the leaders in learning, Saba knows it’s a dual mode world out there when it comes to learning. Users need their learning experience to be set free. Talent teams need to effectively manage, analyze, track and report.

At Saba, we call that “Learning without Boundaries,” and it’s why, in our next release of Saba Cloud, we’ll be enabling users to learn anywhere they can learn, in any format, while making sure that talent leaders can effectively track, manage and report on it. With our handy bookmarklet, users can easily search, find, share and track any type of learning content they can find on the web—videos, articles, online courses, even blogs—and then add that content to their learning plans. And then through our xAPI-ready Learning Record Store (LRS), we’ll also enable talent leaders to integrate the heterogeneous user-driven learning data with their internally created content, and also their imported content.

So I guess the bottom line is: The LMS is dead. Long live the LMS.

The value the traditional LMS delivers isn’t going away, but we’ve got to make a shift in the way we define it, so we can accommodate what today’s users need. If your LMS today can’t adapt to meet the new always on, user-driven demands of your people, while at the same time still performing the very important learning management piece of the job for talent leaders, it might be time to break up!

 

 

 

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