ATD Blog

LMS Trends 2015

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

In recent months, a lot of changes have occurred in the LMS industry. Some good, some of concern. Nevertheless, all trends are important for you to know.

Performance Management

There has been a big uptick in the performance management angle. The feature set mostly includes the usual options, including skill gap analysis and 360 feedback tools. Some suppliers have also added performance reviews. What is different, though, is the inclusion of such items as succession planning, leadership development features, career mapping, and so forth.

Growth in performance management tools can be viewed as a blessing or a curse. While some organizations are craving these options, others don’t want them and will not use them. The concern for me, however, is that under the “performance management” umbrella, I am starting to see features that are typically included in human capital management (HCM), human resource information system (HRIS), talent management (TM), and business intelligence management (BIM) systems.

Worse, these tools (HCM, HRIS, TM, and BIM) see learning as a component—not a number one priority. In my opinion, learning and training (which are different) should be number one, with performance management ranking number two.

Competency Management

Competency management is hot. And honestly, it seems a perfect tie-in with gamification—to boost what is possible. Competency also rings well with mobile, especially learning functions that are doing on-the-job training. When you factor in digital signature to it, you have a tool that can take LMSs to the next level.


APIs and Auto Connectors

Don’t worry if you’ve never heard of the term “API” or “auto connectors.” You’re not alone. Here is how it works.

Let’s say you have an HRIS or ERP platform, such as Workday or SAP. In the old days (like 2014), you would need this customized interface, likely developed by someone else, that would require a lot of money and time—and often lead to plenty of frustration. Connectors change that. The system connects automatically with your various platforms. You add your access to it (user name and password) and connect. You only need to do this ONE time.

Rather than use your user name and password prior to connecting with your other platform (including ERP, HRIS, CRM), an API is working behind the scenes tying the two systems together (LMS and other platforms). With this option, you do not use “auto connect,” per se, rather the connection is already in place. Once you go live with your LMS, data is in push mode—back and forth—between the solutions.

I should note that “auto connect” can be done before you go live with your LMS, too. But the advantages are based on price and multiple connections.


APIs, which started to gain momentum in 2014, are now hotter than the sun. (Okay, maybe not that hot, but you get the idea.) There are vendors who charge a fee per API, specifically the API from you. When a system already has connectors in place, usually multiple mind you, there isn’t any additional charge.

On the API front there is no guarantee that a supplier will not charge you per API. There are a plethora who won’t, but there are many who still see APIs as a revenue generator and therefore charge extra for the capability.

Moving Forward

That’s the latest. Well, there is one more thing: LMS vendors are starting to offer two pricing models, one for internal (employees) and the other external (B2B/B2C).

Stay tuned!

About the Author

Craig Weiss is CEO of analyst E-Learning 24/7. As an e-learning analyst, consultant, and advisor, he provides services to buyers and suppliers in the e-learning industry. He writes the E-Learning 24/7 blog, which is read weekly in 154 countries and territories. Craig has been named the most influential person in the world for e-learning (2015).

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