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4 Essentials for an LMS Buying Strategy

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Karen Swindells
December 14, 2023
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If you feel like the training goal posts are constantly moving, you’re not wrong. Training is a dynamic industry, and it’s changing all the time. One thing is increasingly clear however — your learners won’t put up with an online academy packed with static PowerPoint presentations anymore. According to Deloitte (and I tend to agree), the future of learning belongs to those who put “a focus on personalized, integrated, hybrid and life-long learning.” 

Learners don’t just expect highly personalized experiences — they demand them. For training businesses, or those who offer training on a complex product, keeping up with industry trends and continually working to offer a modern training experience is a business imperative. The right tools and technology are the route to this modern training experience, namely an LMS that’s future-focused and built for the needs of the external learner. 

The Right LMS Buying Strategy for Your 5-Year Plan

Without right-size technology that is purpose-built for scaling external training, I regularly see organizations playing catch up against the latest trends. 

Some businesses simply have the wrong technology in place. The customizations and workarounds needed to try and make an LMS built for internal training fit an external training use case can quickly become prohibitive. Others have made a short-sighted decision when weighing up build vs buy. With a home-grown system that’s supposedly built for purpose, developers are quickly overwhelmed with technical debt trying to add features and capabilities that the competition already offers as standard. All of this is just distraction and time wasted from focusing on your own business growth. 

As a result, today’s organizations need to think outside of the box when it comes to a technology roadmap. A 5-year plan can often feel about as obvious as a 50-year plan when the training industry is changing all the time, but a true technology partnership can make all the difference. A vendor purchase, where you simply onboard a new technology platform can support mild growth, that’s true. However, a strategic partnership is where true innovation is unlocked — offering not only new features, but a partner who is aligned with the industry and its trends, works with your organization’s growth strategy in mind, and supports you every step of the way. 

4 Foundational Tech Capabilities to Help You Scale into the Future

I often speak with customers about how to find that strategic partnership, and one piece of advice I give is to look to what the technology can unlock for your business strategy. We can’t know exactly what tomorrow will look like for training experiences — but here are four foundational tech capabilities that aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. 

1. AI in Learning

There has been no shortage of research on how the AI explosion will boost the impact of learning experiences. Adaptive learning paths, real-time assessments, engagement tools like gamification, and accelerating content creation and production timelines… it’s just the tip of the iceberg. As Donald Clark said in his groundbreaking session at this years’ COGNITION23, “This is the worst AI will ever be.” We’re on the doorstep of the AI revolution, and it’s set to be the source of untold scalability and power for your team. 

At Thought Industries, AI is already part and parcel of our core offering. Consider our AI coaching and feedback tool, personalizing feedback and coaching at scale, in partnership with Bongo AI. Learners can practice to their heart’s content, receiving real-time, accurate, personalized feedback and grading in the moment, making it seamless to scale training to as large an audience as you need. 

2. Headless Technology

Headless technology is all about flexibility. By decoupling the front-end presentation layer from the back-end services, designers can enjoy complete design freedom, realizing 100% of their vision on the page. With complete extensibility unlocked — there are endless integration opportunities, allowing you to meet learners in context, wherever they are. There are zero limits on how you deliver learning, which means you don’t need to worry about the fancy footing of those ever-moving goal posts. Our CEO, Barry Kelly discusses how Headless architecture will transform the way technology can facilitate learning, as a guest on a recent episode of the CELab podcast, which you can listen to here

The powerful reality of onboarding a Headless LMS, is that you’re ready for anything. Making Headless technology part of your long-term plan means that you can innovate and differentiate quickly and without friction, even if that’s years down the road. That’s a serious asset to have in your back pocket. 

3. Deep Reporting

The importance of data is something you can take to the bank. With a focus on hyper-personalized and hybrid experiences, making sure your LMS can track user engagement and the impact of training on your learners is more critical than ever. 

It’s just as important to measure the impact of training behind the scenes. Brandon Hall Group reports that only 27% of companies say their learning strategy includes a framework to measure success. And yet tracking the right data can support capacity planning for your team, customer churn and retention rates, the ROI of specific initiatives, or really any metric that your organization is making top of the priority list this quarter. 

4. Mobile and Learning Everywhere

If you haven’t realized it yet, great learner experience is your competitive advantage. It’s taking more effort than ever before to keep learners engaged, and one important element of making that happen is meeting the learner where they are. 

By 2025, Millennials will be 75% of the workforce. On average, they have a 12 second attention span, and are 2.7x as likely to prefer learning something new via a YouTube video than through reading a book. What does that mean for the learning industry? Learning in the moment of need has become non-negotiable, which means accessibility via mobile, and the ability to facilitate learning everywhere, is now table stakes. 

The Right LMS Buying Strategy Drives the Roadmap For You

To meet the evolving needs of today’s training businesses and their learners, organizations need two sides of the coin. First, future-focused technology that covers all the foundational bases, from AI and Headless technology, to robust reporting and learning anywhere. Then, to truly meet innovation and scale goals — a strategic partner who will break down barriers to success for your organization. 

To hear more about the future of AI in learning, and how to boost and measure learner experience with a modern LMS built for external training, register to watch the on-demand sessions from COGNITION23. 


Still considering the right Learning Management Solution for your 5-year plan? Download the eBook, 10 Questions to Ask Before Buying an LMS, to help you narrow down the search.

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