As fiercely independent learning systems analysts, we’re not rock stars in the traditional sense, but we are rocking out hits of a certain kind. We don’t perform on a live stage to sell-out crowds, but we do produce thought leadership webinars that attract hundreds of global attendees. We’re not exactly poetic, but we do create a stream of carefully crafted written content. We aren’t hounded by fawning groupies or intrusive paparazzi (usually!), but after four years of nonstop blogging, webinars, research and reviews, we have attracted a following of tens of thousands of extended enterprise learning fans and practitioners from around the globe.
The Hits Just Keep On Coming
When we started Talented Learning, there was no independent source of extended enterprise learning technology research, but we knew from experience that the need was real. Since then, we’ve seen an explosion in the number of modern LMS vendors and enthusiasm for strategies and technologies that help organizations educate customers, channel partners and other external audiences. We’re thrilled to be part of this rapidly evolving conversation.
2017 was another banner year. We published 33 in-depth blog posts and produced 14 original webinars. Interest in our information resources grew at a remarkable pace. Which topics attracted the most attention? Below are summaries of the most popular content in both categories.
Top 3 Webinars of 2017
As soon as we finish a live webinar event, we post the recording in the Talented Learning Center – our growing collection of low-hype, high-value, in-depth resources designed to guide business-minded learning professionals who want to make informed technology decisions.
Among the 14 events we produced last year, these were the most popular, each attracting hundreds of global attendees:
There has never been a better time to expand your business reach and revenue through online training. Digital innovation is making it easier than ever to support commercial training strategies, so companies of every size and industry segment are discovering how learning programs can fuel growth and profitability. But what kind of infrastructure is best as a foundation for delivering online courses? And how can you minimize growing pains when demand for learning content increases? Barry Kelly, CEO of Thought Industries, joined me in tackling this topic.
Finding the ideal learning platform can be a complex, mind-numbing chore. But it doesn’t have to be that way. What’s the fastest path between you and an LMS that will elevate your learning programs? How can you navigate the field of 700+ LMS vendors? Aaron Olney, VP Sales and Marketing at eLogic Learning teamed up with me to share our best advice, based on what we’ve learned from a combined 40 years, 2000+ sales opportunities and $100,000,000-worth of selling and buying LMS solutions.
Convincing employees to engage in training is hard enough. So what happens when you want to educate customers, channel partners and others across your extended enterprise? Relevant content is a great start, but it’s not enough. What else does it take to succeed? Litmos customer, Kevin Hanegan, VP Education and Training at Qlik joined me to discuss key success factors, and how they make a measurable difference in real-world business scenarios.
Top 10 Blog Posts of 2017
Sometimes our webinar topics inform the blog posts we develop. Other times, we’re inspired by what we hear from our daily hands-on research and discussions with technology vendors, customers and experts in the learning community. These posts gained the most traction last year:
This was fun to write – almost like playing a game. Gamification is a hot topic, but it’s often misunderstood. In this post, I focus specifically on what you should expect from an LMS with gamification capabilities. It’s not about playing games in a learning management system. Instead, it is about leveraging game-oriented mechanics to drive interest and involvement in online training content. And in the right context, gamification can be a big win for extended enterprise learning.
The rise of SaaS-driven ecosystems fascinates me because it represents a huge shift (for the better) in how organizations leverage learning innovation. New cloud-based specialty solutions have earned a vital role in the corporate learning infrastructure. These solutions can work as standalone applications, but they also add value when integrated with modern learning platforms. In this post, I highlight 30+ examples that deserve a closer look.
What is the best learning platform for commercial training providers? As an LMS analyst and consultant, I hear that question all the time. Truthfully, there is no obvious “silver bullet” answer. But if selling training content is essential for your business, it pays to choose a system that is flexible, customizable and scalable – and designed to sell. This post explains why and how you can add value to that kind of foundation with API-driven integrations.
What factors are shaping the learning systems landscape? In this post, I revisit a conversation I had with Lars Hyland, Chief Commercial Officer of Totara. We touch on a variety of topics, including how innovation is affecting learning content, how uncertainty is shaping the learning systems landscape, and tips to make the LMS buying process more satisfying and successful.
Apparently, our readers enjoy interviews! This is another popular Q&A-style post, inspired by a previous discussion with SpongeUK. In this post, I discuss what’s important about learning systems innovation, and how organizations can create value by investing in a modern LMS. Specifically, I look at how new specialized learning solutions are helping businesses generate new, profitable revenue streams.
#5 New LMS Reviews
Together with our growing directory of LMS profiles, our in-depth LMS Reviews are the core of our site. Collectively, they attract the most attention and traffic. We think it’s because our approach is unique. We don’t look for holes or gaps based on arbitrary standards. And we don’t award points for popularity. Instead, we investigate who is buying a vendor’s LMS and how well it solves relevant business challenges.
Last year, we added a new element – a video tour – where I walk through software features to discover and demonstrate how they work. As you can imagine, this requires a significant investment in our time, but we hope it demonstrates our commitment to providing thorough and useful buying advice.
In 2017 we added 3 new reviews:
With so much at stake for business-oriented learning programs, no one can afford to make an LMS buying decision without understanding what’s “inside” that platform. Educating yourself can take time, effort and money. In this post, I try to help by shedding light on LMS “free trials” and sandboxes – another aspect of learning systems purchasing that has changed dramatically with the rise of cloud computing.
When you need advice from blogs you can trust, do you dismiss content produced by LMS vendors? If so, you could be overlooking an excellent source of information and guidance. In this post, our analyst Kathleen “KK” Kruse profiles 21 bookmark-worthy examples in six categories – including learning strategies, customer and channel training, continuing education and workforce learning.
Who doesn’t love awards? Our annual awards posts (announced in December each year) are always a huge hit. That’s not surprising, since we honor more than 60 learning technology providers for their excellence in 12 key product, marketing and sales-related categories. This is a must-read if you want to know who is shaping the LMS market today, and why they’re ahead of the pack.
Our annual predictions are perennial favorites – and this post from January 2017 was no exception. How many of these trends have your organization embraced in the past year? How successfully did you advance your technology-enabled learning agenda? If you’re behind the curve, when and how will you adjust to these emerging trends? These questions are worth considering – not only in January, but periodically throughout the year.
Last year was eventful for both extended enterprise learning and Talented Learning, but as your eyes and ears in this dynamic market, we’re only just warming up! What should you expect from us in the coming year? More fiercely independent, boots-on-the-ground blogs, webinars, reviews, whitepapers and reports to help you buy (or sell) learning solutions that move your business forward.
We also just launched our new podcast series, “The Talented Learning Show” to showcase one-on-one conversations with leading experts in the learning technology community. Also, our first two 2018 webinars (EE Learning: Is Your Strategy Ready for a Refresh and How to Create Value with a Salesforce-LMS Integration) are open for registration.
If you want to suggest new podcast or blog topics, feel free to contact us anytime. Regardless, we’ll keep rocking out the hits in the year ahead.
Thanks for reading!
Learn more in this webinar replay:
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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