Who are the best LMS vendors? We founded Talented Learning, an independent learning technology research firm, to figure it all out for buyers and sellers. Our mission is to map the LMS world.  We’ve spent the last two years going LMS vendor by LMS vendor and identifying who they are, what they do, who they sell to and why they are unique.

We read the publicly available information, converse with executives, receive briefings, get deep product demonstrations, test drive their applications and even interview their customers. We solicit in-depth survey responses from vendors that highlight hundreds of business, technical and functional data points. In the last 24 months, we have reviewed 100+ LMSs.

We also have the advantage of running LMS selection processes for dozens of buyers, and have broad access to vendor data, stories and experiences. Prior to co-founding Talented Learning, I sold LMSs for 13 years and generated over $50,000,000 in revenue. All of this experience and research was factored into our Talented Learning 2015 LMS Vendor Award rankings and market categorization.

We didn’t take this task lightly. Here are the best LMS vendors of 2015:

Best All-Purpose Corporate LMS

All LMS vendors in this category are capable and focused on supporting all aspects of the learning inside and outside an organization. Vendors are able to be used for any combination of employees, channel, dealers, partners, customers and prospects. All-purpose corporate LMSs have considerable administrative configuration, domain and audience segmentation, globalization, ecommerce, ILT management, online learning management, reporting and integration capabilities.

Best Channel and Partner LMS

If an organization educates and certifies its external sales channel, it will experience increased sales, new streams of revenue and increased customer satisfaction. Every time. All the best LMS vendors on this list actively promote channel learning on their website with product offerings, case studies, webinars, and client testimonials.

The nominated solutions have varying degrees of sophistication in core channel functionality including domain segmentation, e-commerce, social learning, globalization, broad content support, mobile readiness and ease of use.

Channel & partner LMSs have strong integration and shared workflow capabilities with dealer management, incentive management, ecommerce, order fulfillment, CRM and ERPs. The vendors in this list range from self-service free trial LMSs to heavy-duty solution providers.

Best Customer LMS

Most LMS vendors will say they are good for customers, but true customer LMSs are unique. Customer LMSs could be called “Learning Marketing Systems” because there is a deep level capability that typically resides in marketing – not training departments. Customer LMSs have to be super easy to use for customers and resemble Facebook more than a database.

Integration with CRM software like Salesforce.com or Dynamics allows any customer activity such as purchase, renewal, attending a webinar, downloading a paper to trigger the push of intelligent recommendations of learning events. Trained customers buy more over time and are more satisfied and customer LMSs make it happen. Here are the top customer LMSs in the world:

Best Employee Compliance LMS

You can’t get away from where LMSs started. Employee and contractor compliance is a big problem for many organizations. Federal and state and local jurisdictions enact training, safety and harassment regulations and then audit for compliance. Non-compliance results in penalties and fines. The more jurisdictions an organization does business within, the bigger the compliance management challenges they have.

Industries such as pharmaceutical, biomedical, manufacturers, transportation, energy, financial, retail and many others are all required to deliver mandatory compliance training and be ready to prove it to auditors at any time. Compliance LMSs are admin focused and have skills, competencies, audit trails, electronic signatures, strong ILT management, facility and resource management, broad content support and powerhouse reporting. Our choices for the world’s best compliance LMS are:

Best Talent LMS

The talent LMSs used to be the tier one LMSs before they got acquired by the big HR software companies. Talent LMSs are integrated into broader HR and talent suites of products including recruiting, succession, goals, performance, time, payroll and provide a higher level of value – to progressive organizations – than stand-alone employee compliance LMSs.

Talent LMSs support all flavors of employee use cases including career development, leadership development and onboarding where the most productive workflows will tap into performance management, succession and other areas of talent management.

Data is shared from the talent and learning modules that affect content recommendations, skill and competency development, succession planning and performance reviews. With increased complexity of workflow comes more administrative burden, time to implement and cost but also a higher return on investment. The world’s best talent LMS solution are:

Best Academic LMS

The academic LMS market is very distinct from the others. K-12, vocational school and higher education institutions still need a special system to manage students, classes, teachers and the interactions between them. What is interesting is the technique and functionality required to train students by providing instructors the tools to assemble content, video record their sessions, introduce assignments, readings, homework, formal online learning, massive open online courses and social learning has been morphing into corporate, association and continuing education LMSs types.

At the same time, the development of ecommerce capabilities to attract non-captured student learners globally and sell content has been the big recent innovation in academic LMSs learned from the other types of LMSs. Our choices for the best academic LMS are:

Best Continuing Education LMS

Continuing education LMSs are targeting training companies of all types. Countless for-profit training companies create, deliver and manage accredited content for certain industries and regions in a CE LMS. Whether they’re traditional training companies with instructors, brick and mortar facilities or whether they are new school training companies focused purely on ecommerce and online content. The products in this group look like Amazon or Best Buy and they have deep B2B and B2C e-commerce capability and a strategic ability to dynamically group users for target marketing and promotions.

Traditional training management, CRM integration, virtual classrooms (integrated or native), ecommerce, sales tax management, complex CEU management, accreditation body integration are just some of the advanced feature sets available and required to be on this list. There are quite a few organizations that we think are really good in this category.

Best Association LMS

The association LMS space is extremely unique, with explosive growth and innovation. With the cloud LMSs, any association of any size or wealth can now have an association LMS. The selling of accredited content to members and managing all their other learning activities is called non-dues revenue and it is big business. Many association vendors entered the LMS space by being event planners for associations’ annual trade shows. Association tradeshows are loaded with education sessions that needed to be managed and recorded and these vendors started growing LMSs to fit that exact need.

Many corporate LMS providers have tried to capitalize on associations, but their employee-focused nomenclature and mission make much of their capabilities unneeded and an equal amount missing. Association LMSs have tight integration with association management systems, B2B and B2C ecommerce, globalization, audience segmentation, mobile responsiveness, usable social learning, virtual classrooms, webcasting tools, podcasts, event management and are designed with ease of use in mind for all types of users. This list was the most difficult to rank because there are so many great companies and we ended up with a four-way tie for 2nd place. The best association LMS vendors in the world are:



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