The learning technology market is arguably one of the more diverse and complex sectors in business technology today. Nearly every digital communication technology is now being utilized to address the learning use case. Everything from VR and AR to short-form digital video has made its way into the pantheon of available learning technologies.
Further complicating the space is the constant movement between the major players in mergers, acquisitions, divestitures and net new players entering at the same time. Recent Brandon Hall Group™ research indicates that buyers are feeling the complexity. In fact, 62% of respondents indicated that the market is “Somewhat” to “Very” confusing.
In the same survey, only 20% of respondents indicated feeling very satisfied with their current LMS Provider and 34% of respondents are likely to make a new purchase within 12 months. Now is the time for organizations to get clear about what they need, where they have gaps in their learning technology today and leverage key partnerships across the business to bring in the right solutions. Partnership is critical because Information Security has become a driving consideration and ensuring you are working within the guidelines established by your company’s InfoSec team will save everyone issues down the line.
The learning technology market is also at an interesting point in history because with the proliferation of solutions, there is also an inevitable convergence of platform capabilities happening. What used to be a market with well-defined categories and providers sticking to their lane has become a bit of a Wild, Wild West of development as providers focus on adding more and more capabilities in hopes of capturing more of the market and offering a true single solution for all learning needs. HCM platform providers have all added learning modules to their suites for the same purpose.
The learning platform market has been rapidly evolving over the past decade. Traditional Learning Management Systems (LMS) have dominated the space, providing companies with a centralized platform to manage online training and track learner progress. Modern LMS platforms like Brandon Hall Group™ Preferred Provider Absorb offer automated administration, robust content creation and curation, as well as business intelligence reporting capabilities.
By empowering amazing learning experiences, Absorb LMS engages learners, fuels content retention and elevates training programs. Absorb creates results across your operation impacting areas like employee turnover, compliance, DEI, ongoing performance improvement and improving external partner success. Ultimately reducing support costs and driving accelerated expansion. Whether you’re training employees, global channel partners, customers or selling your own training content, Absorb LMS is a great example of the core value of an LMS solution and a picture of the future of the market.
Problems Absorb Solves
Sometimes, an LMS can fall short of providing a great user experience, lacking personalization and lacking integration with other workplace systems. In response, a new category of Learning Experience Platforms (LXP) has emerged, focused on delivering a modern, consumer-grade learning experience. LXPs often incorporate AI, social collaboration, microlearning and curation to create a Netflix-like environment for learners. LXPs complement rather than replace the administrative functionality of LMSs. Key players in this market include companies like LinkedIn Learning, Skillsoft, Coursera and Udemy.
Absorb is built on a streamlined learner experience interface and offers the same rich content options.
At the same time, HCM suites like Workday and Oracle have been expanding their embedded learning capabilities, providing learning management functionality directly within the broader HCM platform. This also delivers a consistent learner experience across the HCM platform.
Absorb LMS enables businesses to power learning via turnkey LMS integrations — supporting better learning outcomes and a seamless user experience.
While innovation is rapidly improving learning technology, the market convergence creates several complications:
- Integrating systems has challenges. Getting LMS, LXP and HCM learning tools to work together can be complicated due to different data models and APIs. Lack of integration leads to a fragmented learner experience.
- Transitioning platforms is disruptive. Organizations that adopted a legacy LMS are hesitant to rip-and-replace it despite its limitations. Migrating data and re-training admins on new systems requires significant effort.
- Choosing the right vendor mix is difficult. With many overlapping platform options, selecting the right tools to meet each business need is complex. Organizations risk overspending and underutilizing purchased capabilities.
- Role confusion is increasing. As capability gaps narrow, the distinctions between LMS, LXP and HCM learning tools are blurring. Buyers struggle to understand platform differences.
- Data and analytics suffer. Disparate systems lead to learning data silos. Lack of integrated reporting and analytics makes it tough to get a holistic view of learning programs.
In making sense of this convergence of technology and capability and in preparation for making buying decisions, companies should be asking themselves some key questions:
- Are we clear on what we need our LMS to do for us?
- Do we have a clearly documented set of requirements for data, security, capability, and integration?
- Have I involved the right internal partners in preparation for making this decision?
- Do we have a list of questions that we want answered?
It all starts with being clear about what you need the system to do. According to our research, buyers are looking for LMS providers to be partners first. For any technology provider to be a good partner for you, you must first be clear on what you need their technology to do for you, how you need to use it and how it fits into your overall business plan. Applying some simple Design Thinking processes before you start meeting with potential providers can save you money and heartache in the long haul.
Have clearly defined use cases that link to practical and actual business need for the system. Understand what kind of data you need. And be clear about what may be missing from your current tool (if you have one) and what capability you need the LMS to have. Proper preparation for this kind of selection can take several weeks, but it is time well spent as it makes evaluating potential solutions and moving to decision-making much faster. If you don’t invest the time upfront, you will spend it in the decision-making process and likely delay any purchase and implementation planning.
Involve IT and HR to make sure all possible integration needs and data requirements are captured before implementation. One surefire way to understand your data requirements and integration needs is to involve key business partners from IT and HR as soon as you begin thinking about needing to select a new LMS. In most large organizations IT sometimes drives the selection process for new vendors any way.
IT support will help map data output requirements for any larger Business Intelligence work, key system integrations that will need to be in place and any security requirements specific to your company’s environment. HR partners will ensure that employee data needs are met and any special considerations for larger employee-impacting work are factored in. Involve them from the beginning, as they can help shape your use case definitions and include them on any decision-making team as active participants. This will make the implementation and longer-term adoption of the new system much quicker.
If you aren’t sure, ask the question. Always. As the buyer, it is critical that you understand what you are buying. The size investment your organization will be making is not easily undone if a problem arises after implementation. It is easy to make assumptions that issues or concerns can be “worked out” later. That is a serious miscalculation. You must make sure that you are calling out and asking any and every question anyone on the team may have as you go through the process. Create mechanisms to ensure question feedback is captured and encouraged, and set an early ground rule that anyone who is unclear about anything, curious about any aspect or not satisfied with any answer, must speak up.
Absorb as the Answer
The growth of Absorb LMS in the market over the past few years in both customer base and learner count is testament to their impact. They have embraced the opportunity to bring the functionality of an LXP and the integration capability from an embedded solution with the core power of a robust LMS. As a learning ecosystem, they are delivering on the promise of learning technology.
Absorb LMS is purpose-built for engaging the learner and position themselves as a unified platform for all use cases. Whether your training audience is internal employees or external customers or partners, or a mix of both, Absorb can deliver seamlessly for you.
They understand the evolution of workplace learning moving from:
- Prescriptive learning to on-demand learning with social components
- Compliance training to headless LMS, experience-driven, personalized content
- Pre-built reports to real-time data-driven analytics and insights
- Job-based learning to personal-based learning
Of particular note is Absorb’s focus on API/Integration with other business systems to deliver content (for instance, LMS delivers videos through another business app when someone signs up for an appointment at a clinic). This deep focus on API and integration also includes the ability to import necessary data and export data for use in other areas of the business.
Beyond their simple learner interface, which has only improved over time, Absorb has expanded its social/peer-to-peer capabilities, allowing users to upload videos of someone performing an observational task review and then have that video routed to a supervisor for review/grading/feedback, enhancing their effectiveness in both remote work environments, and in the case of extended enterprise needs, validating skills for partners and customers in the field.
If your learning strategy includes the extended enterprise, Absorb is uniquely positioned to drive success to your customers, distributors, resellers, etc. Absorb is powering one of the largest extended enterprise strategies in the state of California, accommodating nearly 300,000 learners completing up to 35,000 live courses per week.
Absorb’s eCommerce capabilities are also worth noting. Companies can sell training through the eCommerce portal that allows learners to purchase courses, access their course content and very soon manage their subscriptions. It includes multiple payment options and secure payment gateways.
Absorb is a provider that can meet all of your needs, whether it be content creation, leveraging expert-made libraries, engaging gamification or upskilling and reskilling enablement. They have forward-focused capabilities in social learning and advanced integrations for both content delivery and analytics. Absorb provides a learner-centric architecture and interface that is truly easy to navigate, and a fully configurable and customizable solution based on the unique use cases in the business.
Learn more and request a demo of their solutions here.