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Choosing an LMS is easier (and harder) than ever

Aug 14, 2017

Choosing an LMS is easier (and harder) than ever

It’s easy to become confused when you are considering acquiring or replacing a learning management system. The level of hype in the LMS industry doesn’t help.

On one side, we have the "LMS is dead" faction. These are vendors marketing "new way" of delivering learning that doesn’t rely on traditional classroom training or the type of e-learning we saw 15 years ago. This argument is nothing more than the tried-and-true marketing technique of defining your competitor into a box and declaring yourself outside the box. These modern systems use state-of-the-art learning delivery techniques and technology to manage and deliver learning. Sounds like a current LMS to us.

On another side, we have the “we can do anything" mainstream LMS providers, who argue that they are adopting the latest methods and technology and integrating them into their platforms.

Then, we have those who claim the middle ground by telling us that the LMS performs its core functions well but fall short in “ancillary services,” whatever that means.

And we have those who tell us that the members of the learning profession are falling behind because they don’t have the skills they need to take advantage of what modern learning systems can do.

A Learning Management System for Every Purpose

The truth is the LMS market is more vibrant than ever. The LMS is not dying — is not even fading. The market is snowballing, and we now have over 700 vendors vying for your learning dollar.

John Leh at Talented Learning explains that the reason we have so many vendors that we have entered an era of specialization. Cloud platforms have made it very easy for innovators to launch new products. As learning sectors like the professional associations, continuing education, and the many diverse audiences in the extended enterprise grow by leaps and bounds, new niche providers spring up to serve them.

The traditional LMS vendors are not standing still. They are innovating as fast as they can, which is, because of complexity, always behind the startup niche innovators.

LMS Your Way

Leh explains in his “The LMS Meets 2017” webinar that as a learning platform buyer you can have it your way in 2017. There is no longer a need for most organizations to have a monolithic all-purpose enterprise learning platform, and more and more companies are finding they can do very well with the right collection of technologies built for specific purposes and audiences.

Our take on his enthusiastic presentation is that in 2017 no matter what learning challenge have, you can find an app for that. These specialists are user-friendly, and much simpler to administer than the all-purpose LMS, but that doesn’t mean that if your organization needs a global multi-purpose LMS you can’t find competent system. Traditional vendors like Cornerstone, Saba, and SumTotal are not sitting still. In fact, venerable SumTotal recently announced out-of-the-box support for xAPI.

Begin by Defining Your Requirements

The road to success starts with defining your requirements, and within your organization, you will most likely find different requirements for each business unit. That no longer means you need to buy a complex all-purpose system and configure it in a dozen ways. You can often use a single application built for each particular purpose, whatever it might be.

Once you define your requirements for each use case, you will find vendors who focus on that purpose, and your selection process becomes much easier. We recommend you consider those who have a proven record in doing what you need. We suspect that if you have a unique requirement and nobody has seen before, you will probably find someone willing to build an “app for that.”

Pixentia is a full-service technology company dedicated to helping clients solve business problems, improve the capability of their people, and achieve better results.

Pixentia Learning Consulting

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