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Wake Up to Extended Enterprise LMS Opportunities: For LMS Vendors

Why should learning tech vendors focus again on extended enterprise LMS sales opportunities? Independent learning tech analyst John Leh explains

Learning technology vendors, this post is for you.

Extended enterprise learning technology is booming among global commercial training organizations, associations, and learning content providers, as well as companies that place a priority on educating their channel, developers, customers and others outside of their employee base.  From driving sales enablement and improving business performance among sales partners, to building brand loyalty and decreasing support calls among new customers, extended enterprise learning delivers measurable business impact for companies of all sizes in every industry.  This means you’re likely leaving lucrative extended enterprise LMS opportunities on the table.

It is much easier to sell learning technology that supports non-employees because you can compare training results with business performance and show a defensible return on investment.  I’ve seen internal HR groups try to buy an LMS for a decade to no avail.  On the other hand, I’ve seen extended enterprise learning projects move from RFP to launch in only 120 days.  I’ve always preferred the latter.


So why have so many LMS vendors forgotten the power of extended enterprise learning, and instead chosen to keep pushing the integrated talent management LMS rock up the hill?  Please wake up.  Why would you want your business to behave like Sisyphus — continually pushing the proverbial rock up a never-ending hill?

Here is my first free tip:  Analyze your existing accounts.  Find the owners of channel or customer education and start talking with them about their unique needs, and the aspects of your learning system that map with extended enterprise requirements.  You’ll soon discover how many huge sales opportunities you’ve been missing!

You may be surprised to discover that you actually have a viable extended enterprise solution.  You just don’t market it, because you are so devoted to proving its value as an integrated talent suite.  While chasing this elusive HR business case, you’ve forgotten the easier, lower hanging fruit of extended enterprise.  I know most of you vendors are focused on HR, where elearning is no more important than time tracking and attendance software, so let me help with some additional insights that will help you make money and quota.

Prior to the LMS and performance management acquisitions of recent years, large and small LMS providers had a clear focus on extended enterprise business opportunities. It wasn’t an either/or type of thing.  You could use either route to establish your learning technology at a corporate account, and try to grow the LMS and LCMS solution to support both internal and external elearning.

Why should extended enterprise LMS opportunities be a primary sales focus for vendors?

  • Many Users: The size of the extended enterprise learning audience (and licensing potential) lend themselves to opportunities that are multiple times larger than employee deployments.  More users = more license revenue.  Even large HR-oriented LMS vendors have to admit that selling 100,000 annual licenses to an external LMS audience is better than selling 10,000 internal employees a multi-product talent management suite LMS sale.
  • Tied to Business Objectives:  Organizations don’t implement extended enterprise learning technology unless they want to achieve clear, specific business goals.  It’s easy to measure LMS implementations that reach more of your audience, train and certify them quicker, deliver consistent content and expand your business into new markets — especially when leveraging customer and business data available through CRM and ERP integrations.  Since these solutions typically focus on increasing revenue, driving customer acquisition/retention and partner business performance, they are also typically well-funded, compared to many underfunded employee learning initiatives.
  • Single System:  RFPs can often be avoided if a vendor is already the LMS provider, either in an internal or external learning technology capacity.  Organizations can achieve economy of scale and find better price points attractive.
  • Growth Potential:  Unlike most employee LMS initiatives, extended enterprise projects are almost always growing (or at least trying to grow.  Organizations can never have 100% of potential users voluntarily visiting the LMS, accessing content and paying for it.  But there is always a realistic potential to expand incremental licensing and services income as the solution is more fully deployed across business functions.

Don’t keep pushing the internal employee rock up hills folks.  Open green pastures await your focus.  If you want to get a little smarter on this topic, check out our free Extended Enterprise 101 series of blog posts.

Thanks for reading!


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Want more insights? Watch our on-demand webinar:

The Competitive Advantage of an Externally Facing LMS


There is tremendous diversity among the nearly 700 learning management systems available today. And when customer education is a top priority, it pays for organizations to choose an LMS designed specifically for that purpose.

What exactly are the business benefits of choosing a specialized learning management system (rather than an employee-oriented LMS) to support customer learning initiatives?

Join John Leh, Talented Learning lead analyst and CEO, and Terry Lydon, VP of Training Operations Projects at Litmos, as they explain the value of choosing an externally focused LMS. Specifically, they discuss: You’ll learn: 

  • How to quantify the benefits of customer learning
  • Which factors set a customer LMS apart from employee-focused platforms
  • What case studies reveal about the value of customer learning technology
  • How to find the best LMS for your customers’ needs, and
  • 5 areas of innovation unique to customer LMS solutions

Replay this free webinar now!

John Leh
About John Leh (204 Articles)
John Leh is CEO and Lead Analyst at Talented Learning, LLC. Named among the “Top 20 Global Elearning Movers and Shakers” in 2018 and 2017, John is a fiercely independent LMS selection consultant, blogger and podcaster who helps organizations select and implement learning technology strategies – primarily for extended enterprise applications. His advice is based on more than 20 years of industry experience, serving as a trusted LMS selection and sales adviser to more than 100 learning organizations with a total technology spend of more than $65 million. You can connect with John on Twitter at @JohnLeh or on LinkedIn.

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