As 2015 draws to a close, it makes sense to look back and reflect on highlights from the past year. It’s especially appropriate for our team at Talented Learning, because the New Year also marks our second anniversary and a chance to reflect on how far we have come and how far we have to go.
Our Content Starts with Conversations
We founded Talented Learning to be a fresh, independent, accurate and practical voice in the learning technology industry. We wanted to determine why there are so many LMS vendors in the world so we could help LMS buyers make better, wiser choices. At first in 2014, we blogged about what we knew. Now, we blog about what we learn from conversations.
We uniquely research both the supply and demand side of the LMS equation to formulate an analysis of what is actually going on in the market. So far, we have conducted in-depth reviews of over 100 LMS vendors, and we’ve developed executive communication channels with almost every one of those companies. We also speak with vendors’ customers, so we can learn about how they are using the LMS, for what purpose and with what gain. Finally, we consult with LMS buyers to define what they really need and match them with the right vendor for their goals and requirements.
As lead analyst at Talented Learning, I personally speak to 2-3 vendors, LMS buyers or practicing professionals every single day. With each conversation, I learn something new and I use this blog to organize my thoughts and share them openly with the world.
So, before highlighting some of our most popular content, I want to say thank you for your interest in Talented Learning. Every time you read or share one of our posts or attend one of our webinars, you’re trusting us with your time and attention. We’ll do our best to continue honoring that trust by providing information and advice that helps you make better business decisions about learning technology.
We published over 40 articles this year. Here is a quick guide to our “greatest hits” of 2015:
LMS reviews are the backbone of our site. Collectively, they attract the most attention and traffic. We think it is because we have a unique approach. We don’t aim to find holes or gaps based on arbitrary standards. Rather, we use the opportunity to understand what makes a vendor great, and why. We learn about who is buying their LMS and what problems their solution solves. To learn about some interesting advancements, read our reviews of Tesselo, Digital Ignite (now YM Learning), RISC, TalentLMS and Gyrus.
In the U.S., delivering and consuming continuing education is a $47 billion dollar business. However, most learning management systems are terrible at managing the complexities of continuing education. Why the disconnect? In this first installment of a 3-part series, we dig into the technical and logistic challenges that exist in the medical, financial and healthcare industries when managing continuing education. If you sell or manage CEUs of any flavor, this post is for you!
In our top LMS prediction of 2015, we claimed that this would be the year of extended enterprise learning. Truthfully, we were not thinking this big by a country mile. LinkedIn now sells learning content and certifications to 400 million captured users, generating tens of millions in revenue and it is disrupting the markets for workforce development, MOOCs and LMS software. To learn how LinkedIn created the world’s largest extended enterprise learning site by acquiring Lynda.com, read this post.
We’ve received a ton of fantastic feedback about this fun post! I’m sure it’s because we struck a nerve. Most of us have had to sit through way too many underwhelming LMS demonstrations. When you experience a good one, you know it. Vendors can’t sell software without great product demos and demonstrators who can breathe life into software are worth their weight in gold. In my career I’ve delivered or attended well over 2000 LMS demos. In this post, I recognize the best demonstrators I have seen and explain why.
In an article I wrote about conducting better LMS demonstrations, I advised LMS vendors to drop insider jargon and acronyms from their vocabulary when speaking with potential customers. If LMS buyers can’t understand you, it’s tough to win their business. However, I concluded that it will take too long to teach 600+ LMS vendors the new anti-acronym trick and the easiest path would be to create a living, non-techie dictionary that decodes common acronyms for LMS buyers. What I didn’t know is that I would find over 100 LMS acronyms without even trying! How many do you know?
HR/Talent LMS providers devalued the LMS market when they acquired former tier-1 LMS providers and halfheartedly integrated them into their broader suites. Employee LMSs quickly became regarded as a commodity, not a competitive differentiator, when included in enterprise software sales opportunities. It was a losing proposition for learning and training professionals as well as the workforce learners they serve. But this year we saw Workday take the first step to change all that by announcing the 2016 release of a home-grown, NextGen LMS. Using available public info and some intuition I outline the impact this move is likely to have on the learning technology industry going forward.
Extended enterprise learning is the hottest area of LMS innovation this year. Smart companies are leveraging it as a business weapon. They use it to build communities of customers, partners and resellers and provide learning interventions that measurably change behavior within those communities. That change results in more sales of primary products and/or content and leads to happier, more loyal customers. In this post, we outline the best ways we have found to gain and sustain competitive advantage by training your non-employees.
Everybody loves awards! This post attracted a year’s-worth of traffic in only one month. We’re not surprised because over 60 LMS vendors are featured for their excellence in 11 product, marketing and sales-related categories. We also include a rationale for each award, an overview of today’s LMS market landscape and a link to the award webcast replay. If you want to know who is shaping the LMS market in 2015 and why they’re ahead of the pack, this is a must-read.
I’ve seen a lot on the LMS front – more than most. Educated as an economist and then an instructional technologist, I spent 13 years selling LMS software. Along the way, I became obsessed with studying the LMS sales cycle and understanding how to maximize effectiveness in every step to improve my odds of winning. My obsession led to 100 new clients, several hundred losses and over $50 million in revenue. Now, as an LMS selection consultant, I see countless sales efforts –good, bad and horrendous. In this funny (and slightly corny) post, I report on some LMS sales war stories I’ve recently encountered.
Hands-down we’ve received more interest in the LMS predictions we published last January than any other post this year. I still stand by this technology trend forecast so you may find it useful as a benchmark for learning innovation in your organization. Are you looking for an updated forecast as we move into 2016? Glad you asked. We’ll be posting more LMS predictions at the start of the New Year. So stay tuned. And as always…
Thanks for reading!
Learn More! Replay the Webinar:
In a complex market packed with 700+ possible solutions, how can you be sure your next learning platform will work for your organization? What kind of functionality is essential? Do you know what’s available? What budget parameters makes sense? How can you avoid overpaying? Do you even know if an LMS is the best solution?
Where should you start?
Before making your next move, why not tap into the knowledge and experience of a successful independent learning technology consultant? Join John Leh, CEO and Lead Analyst at Talented Learning as he tackles today’s trickiest LMS buyer challenges:
- How to make sense of today’s expansive LMS landscape
- How to determine if you can afford a new LMS
- Why requirements definition is essential to sort through the learning tech “specialist” market
- How to narrow your options from 700+ vendors to a qualified shortlist
- When and how to use an RFP (or not)
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