Published On: July 3, 2014By
Talent Suite LMS or standalone learning system - which should you choose? Independent learning tech analyst offers guidance

A few years ago the acquisition frenzy hit and transformed the learning management industry into the talent management industry or so we thought…

In case you had a life and were not paying attention, here was the blow-by-blow action as I remember it — SuccessFactors, with the opening volley bought Plateau then was acquired by SAP. Oracle, in response, purchased Taleo who just acquired  Vista says “I’m in” and bought  SumTotal who had recently acquired GeoLearning.  Certpoint was snatched up by Infor. Saba and Cornerstone decided to build all the talent suite functionality themselves.  Workday built partnerships with all the LMS providers.   The acquired, standalone LMS providers feasted on the market carnage as next-gen LMS solutions were being born.  Those were the days.

The Writing on the Talent Suite LMS Wall

The writing was on the wall though:

  • The top LMS products are now part of talent and HR suites
  • LMS products must be integrated into talent or HR suites to survive
  • Standalone LMS products were a thing of the past

A funny thing happened though that reaffirmed my belief in the cyclical nature of history.  It was the same thing that happened 10+ years ago when the big HR providers tried to build (vs. buy) their own LMS solutions the first time–they had a hard time winning LMS deals in the open marketplace which coincidentally led to the above acquisition frenzy.  They are still having the same trouble winning now with the acquired LMSs.

The above acquired LMS companies were top-flight solutions — three years ago.  Since that time however, mobile, social learning, gamification, ecommerce and the cloud exploded and the next generation of LMS providers was there to embrace, adapt and evolve.  The acquired LMS solutions have languished in these new advancements compared to the focused LMS players.  Today, in many ways, the standalone LMS providers are ahead in the internal employee LMS race and definitely ahead in the extended enterprise LMS race.

Organizations continue to purchase standalone LMS systems every day and rarely consider more than one HR or talent suite LMS products as the starting point.  Here is one reason.  Say Oracle (or one of the other behemoths) runs your organization’s financial and talent systems and you want to buy a new internal or extended enterprise LMS.  You can’t invite SAP/SuccessFactors, and Infor or the other big suite players to compete with their LMS solutions.  None of the companies play well together so they rarely compete head-to-head unless it is a green field account.  As a result, LMS buyers are usually left with one of two scenarios:

  • You invite standalone LMS providers to compete and you select a LMS that meets your needs, budgets and expectations.  If it is a standalone LMS — which is likely — an API connector to the talent suite is typically part of the solution.
  • You get forced politically to sole source the LMS to the incumbent talent or HR provider.  These decisions are made at levels high in the organization and are really hard to stop once the ball is in motion so you can’t let it happen!  (How?  That’s another blog post.)

10 Reasons Not to Buy a Talent Suite LMS

So you want to buy a new internal or extended enterprise LMS.  The big HR and talent suite providers would like you to make your purchase on the pipe dream that the HR, talent and learning solutions need to be integrated by the same vendor to achieve measurable results.  It’s just not true.  Here are 10 very good reasons why you should not buy an HR or talent suite LMS unless compelled:

10. HR/Talent providers have license models that are too pricey and restrictive in comparison to standalone LMSs

9.  HR/Talent providers have long-term contracts that provide you no true value just restrictions

8.  HR/Talent providers have had limited innovation in the LMS parts of the product over the last 2-3 years

7.  HR/Talent providers support dozens of  HR and talent products and are not thought leaders in learning technology

6.  HR/Talent LMSs were built before the mobile age and are now hopelessly behind

5.  HR/Talent LMSs are made for internal, involuntary employee users, so the LMS and user interface is boring as all get out and unusable for extended enterprise applications

4.   HR/Talent solutions, with some exceptions, have dated, bolted-on vs. tightly integrated social learning capabilities

3.  HR/Talent providers make it easy for smaller less strategic customers (in their eyes) to get lost in the shuffle

2.  HR/Talent products always require significant professional services to implement, configure and integrate

1.  The NextGen LMSs are just too cool, usable and affordable to go with old, boring and ridiculously expensive

Thanks for reading!


Learn More: Replay our on-demand webinar

The Economics of LMS Replacement

Stuck with a learning management system that no longer meets your needs? Do you pay for annual maintenance and hosting, but haven’t upgraded in years, and rarely use tech support? Want to expand your learning program reach to customers, channel partners or others, but can’t afford the incremental licenses? Ready to move up to a new solution, but unsure about what it should cost? If any of these scenarios are familiar, this webinar is for you.

Join Talented Learning lead analyst and CEO, John Leh, as he shows you how to take charge of the LMS replacement process and lead your organization into the modern learning age. You’ll get insider perspectives and research-backed insights to help you overcome internal inertia, speak the business language of executives and get approval to replace your LMS.   In this fast paced, information packed session, you will learn how to:

– Analyze what you’re currently spending (and why)
– Define what you need in a new LMS
– Outline the best license model for your intended use
– Develop realistic budget expectations
– Create a business case your stakeholders can support
– Find vendor intelligence you can trust

Replay this on-demand webinar now!

Need Proven LMS Selection Guidance?

Looking for a learning platform that truly fits your organization’s needs?  We’re here to help!  Submit the form below to schedule a free preliminary consultation at your convenience.

Share This Post

About the Author: John Leh

John Leh is Founder, 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 on Twitter or on LinkedIn.

Related Posts

Customer LMS Capabilities Report - New for 2024 from Independent learning tech analyst, John Leh. Find out everything you need to know about today's dynamic customer LMS market. Learn more...
TL 2024 Learning Systems Awards Sq v2 (2)



Check out our new learning systems directory


Get personal independent LMS advice from expert John Leh


Talented Learning Case Study Directory