What’s Next for Learning Management Systems?

Catherine ConlanLeadership2018 02 07
What’s Next for Learning Management Systems?
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Advances in technology have made it easy to standardize and scale employee learning and development — but that’s not enough to deliver the results businesses desperately need, experts say. It’s time for an upgrade.

According to PricewaterhouseCoopers’ 20th CEO Survey, businesses are trying to manage huge leaps in technology in an unstable environment while fending off new competition from local and global market players. They need solutions that help employees learn and develop competitive skills. And while the market has been responding, the solutions that have worked up to this point won’t be enough to meet this next round of challenges.

“Every big organization has a static LMS behemoth that houses whatever you think your employees need to develop,” says Paul Szurek, a vice president at venture capital firm Insight Venture Partners. New tools can better provide continuous learning and professional-development opportunities in dynamic ways, he says. “They allow people to enter into the next phase of whatever the world’s going to look like.”

So, what’s in store for learning management systems? Here are the trends we’re seeing.

Clearer Objectives and Better Focus

Legacy LMSs don’t always have the capability to respond to new business challenges —and can even hold businesses back.

Deloitte’s 2017 Global Human Capital Trends report found that 90 percent of companies are redesigning their organizations to be more dynamic, team-centric and connected. But most organizations continue to use siloed learning platforms that do little to foster collaboration and knowledge sharing, says Iain Scholnick, founder and CEO of Braidio, a social learning platform for sales enablement and talent development.

“As organizations take inventory, they’ll soon begin to shift their tactics and tools to be more aligned with their organizational strategy,” he says. New solutions will align better with organizational strategy and help contingent and flexible workforces get up to speed more quickly, communicate common goals and build collaboration skills.

In addition, workplace learning will increasingly be tied to corporate initiatives, says Dianne Crampton, founder of the TIGERS Success Series, a management consulting company. Organizations will connect development more closely to business outcomes, such as by measuring correlations between employee development and bottom-line results.

A Return to the Classroom

Mobile solutions are hot, but employers still recognize the value of in-person education, leading to growth in person-to-person models, says Terry Traut, CEO of Entelechy, which produces leadership development, management and customer-experience training programs. “In our experience, instructor-led training is ideally suited for experiential, thought-provoking topics, action-oriented learning and presentations and high-level discussions,” Traut says.

The result is a multifaceted approach that takes advantage of the best parts of tech platforms and in-person teaching. “When used effectively, in-person learning experiences can lead to significantly more engaged participants, since the format holds learners accountable and connects them with peers experiencing similar challenges,” Traut says. “Above all, organizations will give instructor-led training its due place in their blended learning curriculum because it works, plain and simple.”

An Emphasis on Leadership

As companies use more contract, outsourced and freelance workers, leadership training will become a priority for organizations. “In 2018, there will be a shift toward focusing corporate training more on leadership development at all levels to improve managers’ ability and willingness to effectively lead their teams by providing ongoing coaching, delivering actionable feedback, motivating for performance and leading difficult conversations,” Traut says. “As more organizations are moving to project-based work, leadership skills of project team leaders will become increasingly important.”

Having strong and capable leaders can improve customer satisfaction and create a deeper bench for succession-planning purposes, he says. And continuing to develop leaders will help create a competitive advantage including an increase in leader and employee retention, engagement and loyalty.

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