Trends in Learning Technology


We recently (like today) completed a fairly in-depth look at the learning technology market. We started with over 100 learning tech providers and are adding to it almost daily. The study provides some great insights into the learning tech market in general and explains why the learning tech market is such chaos right now – for both learning tech providers offering solutions and learning leaders buying them.

As a part of that study, we identified several high-level corporate learning technology trends. I’ve shared these trends below; for more information on the market, its players, and a framework to think about it, read our latest research report: Learning Tech Landscape: the Wild, Wild, West and play around with is partner interactive provider map.  

1. Experience is more broadly defined.

Experience is a big deal right now. Sierra-Cedar’s Annual HR Systems Survey  data indicated that the number one reason learning leaders are considering changing their LMS was user experience. Naturally, learning tech providers are paying attention.

In learning tech parlance, the term “experience” has traditionally been used to describe a tool’s user interface. However, we are heartened to see learning tech providers define “experience” much more broadly. “Experience” now goes beyond the basic finding and consumption of content and knowledge. This was evidenced by the number of solutions we found that address more abstract and nontraditional parts of employee development.

This finding was so striking, in fact, that it encouraged us to rethink how employee development is defined, as you’ll see when you read the report and access the tool. 

2. Performance, career, and learning are converging.

It is rare anymore that we talk to leaders who are only concerned with learning. In most cases, leaders are addressing performance, learning, and career together. 

Finally. We believe that organizations that focus on all three of these human capital areas have more holistic and effective solutions because, as it turns out, it is difficult to develop employees if you don’t understand where they are and where they want to go. 

This is also apparent in the learning technology space. Talent management platforms have included functionalities to enable these three areas for some years; however, we’re now seeing tighter integration and better data to help make the experience more seamless. 

Performance and career capabilities are also being built (or acquired, in some cases) by learning tech providers that have traditionally only focused on learning. And we’re also seeing technology providers with solutions for performance and career dip their toes into the learning space.

3. It’s all about the data.

Learning & Development has always been behind when it comes to analytics. Traditionally, the focus has been on learning metrics – metrics that help the L&D function become more efficient. However, in the new learning tech landscape, data is playing a much bigger role in three ways:.

First, more is being generated. A significant number of learning tech providers indicate that they offer some sort of analytics functionality. This goes beyond the platforms; even point solutions are paying attention to reports and dashboards in ways that can help learning leaders make better decisions about investment. Providers are also making it easier to get the data out of their systems for use in other systems.

Secondly, more is being ingested. Solutions have the ability to access data pools in other parts of the organization in to provide more personalized solutions, and to help leanring leaders make better decisions in concert with broader organizational goals.

Finally, data is being used in feedback loops. Solutions are ingesting data, not just to help organizations draw correlations, but to provide personalized feeds and dashboards to individual learners in a way that helps them personally make better decisions.

4. Enablement is becoming a thing.

To this point, philosophies on learning technology have fallen roughly into two camps: those that wanted to be the “front door” or “one-stop-shop” for employee development, and those that have focused on making learning “fit” in between work (think micro-learning).

However, we’re seeing a new breed of tech provider that is neither of those; instead, they aim to take the learning (or guidance, or coaching, etc.) directly to the work. These tech providers are integrating with business tools (email, dashboards, calendars, etc.) to use their functionality and their data exhaust to provide uniquely personalized and timely feedback to employees in the course of their work.

A quick example: If you ask them, Cultivate will tell you that they’re an engagement tool. They look at past latent email data, and using natural language processing and sentiment analysis, help you determine who on your team is engaged and who isn’t.  Why bring them up in a report about learning technology? It’s what they do with the data. Their offering sits on top of the email client (or Slack) and helps managers improve their communications as they’re writing the email. They indicate who is engaged and who isn’t, and provide hints on communicating with employees in ways that will increase engagement. 

Enablement tools have the ability to make data and instruction deeply personal and meaningful, delivering it at the point of need, and never taking someone out of the job in order to do it. We think we’ll be seeing a lot more of this in the future.

5. Vendors are serving other vendors.

Finally, vendors are starting to provide services to other vendors. While this group is still quite small, these vendors integrate with and white label functionality that larger vendors do not have.

A good example of this is Anders Pink – a great little curation technology. While they will sell directly to organizations, they actively going after an integration strategy, enabling tech vendors who lack the functionality and could benefit from it.

These are just a few of the trends (the ones we dare mention). It’s an exciting time to be in the learning tech space. We’re impressed with the innovation we’re seeing and we’re excited to see where it goes. For more, read the report and access the tool!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *