LMS Is Not Dead Again

Craig WeissWindsor (UK), January 2018 - (By Craig Weiss, CEO and Lead Analyst of The Craig Weiss Group) It’s dead.  No, wait, it’s dying.  No, the articles say that it is dead. I’m not referring to your favorite HRIS, rather the LMS. The posts on the net continue to tell me that the LMS and thus its market is dead.  Which is ironic when you consider that more companies are coming into the space, then leaving. That the learning system space now exceeds 1,300 on the global scale. And that most them, the overwhelmingly large chunk are LMSs.

In fact, the statement of more coming in than leaving is directly referring to learning management systems. On top of it all, a vast chunk of learning platforms has the minimum 16 standards, to be an LMS, but prefer to call themselves learning platforms.

Want a learning engagement platform? No problem, but be aware that they see themselves as ideal "bolt-on" to an LMS, to create a learning suite. Interested in a sales enablement platform? Not an issue, unless of course, you want a product that can be a bolt-on too, for say, uh, oh yeah, an LMS.

Let’s hypothetically say, that you have this HRIS and you wanted learning tied to it. You know in a system. Holy moly, what do you think the mass folks who have a HRIS system tend to do, when they go this route?  Tie it to an LMS.

The point of all this, is that the LMS market is not dead. It’s not even dying, but for whatever reason, the premise, lest the idea that the LMS is passé or traditional (I term naysayers often use), is in its death throngs.

The naysayers have a laser beam on LMSs for some reason unbeknownst to the rest of us. Authoring tools? Nope healthy, even though there are less authoring tools in the industry today, than five years ago. HCMs?  Healthy and robust, even though more of them are adding a learning component and pitching the learning as an LMS. HRIS? Perfect harmony. Safe. Even though Workday is the player now, and that while there are plenty of systems, the size of the market is by no means as large nor growing in equal percentage to that of the LMS. Oh, and Workday as an LMS too.

LCMS? Naysayers say silent, despite the fact, that the LCMS has been in the death throes for the last few years. Go back to early 2000’s to 2010 or so, and there was way more LCMSs than exist today. The rate of extinction is in front of us, and what do you hear from the naysayer market?  Crickets.  

Why then are the naysayers repeatedly targeting the LMS space as one that is in the obits page. 

Here are four factors that I believe are the key pieces to puzzle.

  1. Premise that LMSs were created for compliance and regulatory.
    Fact: LMSs were not built nor created for compliance and regulatory.  Rather they were built to identify what learners (employees and customers) did not know when it came to training.  Analytics and reporting were (and still are) important components. Most people I knew who were using LMSs in the early days were all about personal and professional development. I did and so did many, many others.
    In fact, the first LMS I purchased for a company I worked out, was in the cloud. Yep, in 2000. Nothing traditional there. Nor here.
  2. Unaware of why e-learning was created in the first place.
    E-Learning was designed to, wait for it, identify training gaps and provide this insight to those overseeing training, and thus, enable them to fix those gaps with courses, and or content to do so. Secondly, to offer employees, customers or both courses that were asynchronous so that they could access the courses whenever they wanted to, and as often as they wanted (via that LMS). By going this route, i.e. asynchronous based, we could provide courses in a non-linear fashion (the value of WBT, and e-learning for that matter), so that the learner could bounce around the course to focus on areas of interest and thus had a high incentive in wanting to learn it. We could create scenario based learning, with real world scenarios placed into a course in a highly and effective manner. Want micro learning? We did it, back in 2000 to zero in more on those who wanted short bytes of learning, via online.
  3. The traditional junkyard. 
    Traditional means nothing here and the use of the term is marketing junk. Name one other software/hardware solution where someone looks at it, and goes, "oh that is so traditional." I can’t think of one. Heck, when I go and look at houses, I don’t say, "we are not interested in any that are traditional," because the agent would look at me and go, "What are you talking about?" Yet, in the LMS space, vendors who wish to differentiate themselves, and those naysayers out there as well, love the term "traditional". The average age of an LMS is around four years. Many of the new systems do not have the oomph of the systems that have been out for 10 plus years, thus even if you were screaming traditional, many folks have zero idea on what you mean. But I find, that when someone screams traditional they are referring to the four, all of which by the way, are HCMS.
  4. HCMs
    An HCM is a human capital management system. If they are in the LMS space it is because they offer a learning component (module) as a standalone as well as offering it in a suite of other modules.  The learning module can be very good, or it can be poor, depending on the vendor themselves. 
    Years ago, okay, HCM was mentioned by many naysayers as the future of learning. They turned out wrong. Before that it was talent management as the future of learning. Once again, wrong. 
    Do they admit that they were wrong? Absolutely not, because to do so, would have others realize that they do not know the LMS space, nor follow it, nor understand all the nuances of it.

So here is my predication for 2018:

The LMS will still be alive and well.

Because learning is a life long journey.

And the product that can assure its place in the continuation of that journey is something we all call