Happy to be here
We recently completed some research on the learning tech space
First time people will be seeing it
Excited to share
Excited for your questions
This is pre-covid me –
And this is a quick slide on RTR if you’re not familiar with us
We’re a research and advisory firm focusing on:
Feel free to visit our website for more information.
I want to break this webcast into 3 sections
First, thinking about tech differently – we’re used to thinking about it the way that we buy it – by what’s on our balance sheet. There’s a better way.
Second, I’ll talk about the current market – what’s been going on, what’s available, etc.
Finally, I want to talk about trends we’re seeing from our learning leader friends, and what kind of tech is being applied.
At the end of each section, we’re going to stop for questions – feel free to enter those questions in chat or in the question section as we’re going along
The first topic is thinking about tech differently.
And I want to start with this slide…
In about 2015, this was the way we were thinking about learning tech
If we’re honest, many organizations still are –
They’re thinking about it in terms of what shows up on their balance sheet, or what they go out and buy
And it causes lots of frustrations for a couple of reasons:
First, increasingly these technologies overlap. Vendors don’t stay within these lines. LMS’s are also LRSes. Everyone is a learning experience platform. Content is being offered by everyone.
Second, these categories describe what technology you’re buying, not what problems you’re trying to solve.
And by the way, vendors hate this model as much as leaders.
In fact, when we started talking to them a couple of years ago, we learned that they categorized what they do much more granularly
And in our briefings and conversations, 28 functionalities fell out
As shown on the screen
These functionalities are much more geared toward enabling employees to do something,
And that led us to rethink learning tech altogether.
We started talking to more forward-thinking learning leaders
And learned that they were thinking more in terms of what they needed employees to do rather than in the tech category that helped them do it.
We created a framework that focuses on what we’re trying to get employees to do – rather than the tech.
Those in charge of employee development should be focusing on enabling employees to do these things:
Plan: how are we enabling our people to understand their career options and what it’ll take from a development standpoint in order to get there?
Discover: how are we enabling our people to find the types of opportunities and content that will take them in the direction they’d like their career to go?
Consume: How are we enabling our people to access and consume content?
Experiment: How are we enabling our people to practice new skills?
Connect: How are we enabling our people to connect with each other and learn from each other?
Perform: How are we enabling our people to perform better on the job and learn while doing it?
You’ll notice off to the right there are two additional categories That L&D needs to do to keep the proverbial train on the tracks:
Manage & Create: what tools do we need in order to manage our resources, our content, and our employees and their learning goals?
Analyze: What tools enable us to gather and use data- to improve our own systems and processes, help the overall business make better decisions, and provide employees with data that will help them develop?
We then took the list of things that L&D functions should be looking to enable
And we added in the functionalities that vendors say they’re providing
And you get something like this
Instead of a technology, what you get is a lot of choices.
We see this model or framework as sort of the universe of choices to enable employees to learn
Our job is to choose the ecosystem of functionalities that align best with our culture and needs
The good news:
Orgs are beginning to understand what they need to do,
recognize the functionalities they need to do it,
and then create ecosystems that help them do it.
The bad news:
But it’s made our jobs harder.
It used to be that we chose a technology – generally the one with the most features – and off we went.
But as experience becomes more important and our choices continue to expand,
Our job is now to create the best ecosystem for our employees – whether that is with one platform or with many technologies.
So let’s talk about that a little bit.
In talking to leaders, there are basically three structures for learning tech ecosystems:
Describe with doors and rooms
These sit on a spectrum – from fairly uncomplicated and uniform to really complicated and varied
Companies fall all along the spectrum
Which structure they choose generally has to do with some characteristics:
Left hand side:
Right hand side:
Incidentally, most intentional (meaning they’ve created an ecosystem on purpose) orgs are just right of center.
Let’s take a short break for some questions.
So let’s talk about the market.
The learning tech market was estimated to be about $76.4B in 2019, but we know, at least anecdotally that it’s increased dramatically in 2020.
Let’s talk a bit about what we found in our research.
Lots of vendors.
223 currently in our tool
Another 30 to vet
We know this isn’t close to all of them
Why so many?
Easier than it used to be to get started
Change in mindset – not just LMSes anymore.
Hook doesn’t mean slowdown
Natural gap between incorporation and market
The 223 vendors are going to market in 30 different ways.
It isn’t just LMSes and content creation anymore.
Broad range of functionalities.
Two we have seen pop up this year are:
Podcasting – one made our research, other one didn’t
Vendors are more often than not not just offering one of these
And combining functionalities in completely different ways that let them do completely different things
There are also more point solutions than there were even 2 years ago.
57 in 2018
120 in 2020
Part of that is our discovering more vendors.
Chart shows # of functionalities by vendor
Things we have seen that may be causing this:
Mindset shift: more best-in-class mindset and more focus on experience (often better with smaller pr highly configurable vendors)
Point solutions not going through L&D – but instead going directly to managers / function leads – easier sell if they have their own budget
Easier to get started – barriers to entry not as great as they once were
Easier to switch – not as many 2 year implementations as in the past – much more plug and play
More choices for the same functionality:
Chart shows how many vendors saying they offer the functionality
Analytics and Measurement are the #1 functionality vendors say they’re offering
Followed by Microlearning, followed by collaborative learning, followed by content creation
While project marketplaces are still fairly rare, they’re growing
Enablement, which we introduced 2 years ago has also grown a lot.
So has career pathing.
And by the way, I have no idea what’s happening with Assessment – need to look into it further.
Vendors are also reporting strong growth – more customers year over year
Strong indication that learning tech is being more widely adopted
From 2019 to 2020, there was a 48% growth rate among the vendors that were willing to share the info with us.
Could point to the big disruption of COVID and leaders needing to accommodate something besides ILT
This case is strengthened by the fact that Vendors have more users.
35% of vendors have over 1M
Majority have more than 100K
Let’s take another break and answer any questions you may have.
The third part of this discussion has to do with trends we’re hearing about
And technology we’re seeing that is able to enable those trends.
We’ll go through 6 of them.
The first shouldn’t be a surprise.
Organizations are looking to create more human experiences
We have seen orgs move away from talking about efficiency and toward talking about experience.
This is reflected in how they’re structuring employee development – they’re using tech to enable human connection:
They want better user experiences (with less frustration)
More emotional connection
And more learning from each other
Some of the functionalities we see that enable more human experiences are:
Expertise directories – making expertise transparent and accessible
Recommendation engines – knowing what employees need and helping them find it
Mentoring and coaching –This area has exploded
Collaborative learning – helping peers help peers
Project marketplaces – using work for learning, using apprentice-type learning
MOOC / Cohorts – learning as a group – it’s not dead.
Finally, analytics – data about how, what, why people learn enables many of the other functionalities
In the past 4 months especially we have been hearing about internal mobility – making it easier to move people around orgs
Doing a study on this now
Most are doing it to help employees engage with the company and career
But some are doing it to deliver on the strategy.
COVID pointed out that most orgs do this poorly – and there are a lot of reasons why
Some still do it with excel spreadsheets
But some are leveraging some learning functionalities to help.
We see expertise directories again – understanding expertise helps orgs make better decisions about movement, teams, etc.
Same with skills tracking.
Career pathing helps employees understand where their skills can take them
Performance tracking and assessment identify skills
And again we see analytics – providing correlations and data for better decisions.
Organizations appear to be embracing coaching like we’ve never seen before.
Part of this goes back to the ‘human’ experience
We also learned during our performance management research that no one likes their frontline managers or thinks they’re awesome
Coaching software tries to help solve this problem
Tech functionalities we’re seeing:
Coaching/mentoring: 3 types
1. Most basic and traditional: matches employees to external coaches
2. Seeing more of: software that enables internal discussions with nudges, places to document convos, matches people internally
3. Coach on the shoulder – software that delivers nudges / learning / data to help someone get better without discussions with other humans
Messaging / likes / follows / sharing – some happen on LXP
Spike in technologies that are marrying themselves to teams, slack
Coach on the shoulder
Tech that walks you through learning something on the job
Listening tech – Mursion, Trybe, Cultivate
Analytcis – not surprisingly, it enables a lot of the back end of many of these other functionalities.
Also, gives orgs a better understanding of major challenges / areas of focus
Oh the skills!
Been following the convo for like 4 years
Finally doing some research on it right now
All organizations (and seems to be more urgent since shutdown) are focusing on skills
Biggest questions: what do we have, what do we need, how do we get them
Also a focus on hard and soft skills
None of these should be surprising
Things that I like that are popping here:
Project marketplace – focusing on skills more broadly – not just what class you tool
Career pathing – trading information about an employee’s skills with help with career pathing
Enablement – building skills as a part of the work –in the flow if you will.
Interesting to note that skills and internal mobility appear to go hand in hand
Finding this in the research as well
A lot is about helping employees understand what they have, what they need, and how to develop – a lot about planning.
We’re also seeing organizations move away from “learning just in case”
Takes a peanut-butter approach that isn’t that useful
Organizations are being much more pointed with their learning initiatives
And training or developing employees based on their performance
Much more personalized
Much more useful to the org
See a caveat of safety, legal, or other compliance training
One that popped up here that we haven’t seen with other trends: adaptive learning
Helps avoid teaching people stuff they already know – saves frustration, time, and money
Assessment, skills tracking, certifications, performance tracking – helping orgs and individuals understand where they are so that they can pinpoint necessary development
Project marketplace – love this one – uses the work as the development op - built in purpose
And again, we see analytics – making these things work on the back end.
This trend is a little bit different – in that most organizations (smart ones anyway) aren’t buying AI, machine learning for its own sake
But we are seeing it as a trend that is enabling all kinds of back office stuff
Orgs are starting to use these tools smartly – to get rid of ”dumb” work and to focus on more strategic stuff.
This includes affecting functionality like career pathing, recommendation, external content curation
It also enables AR/VR, allowing for more complex experiences
And enablement – understanding what you’re doing and providing help in the moment.
Mostly, we’re seeing AI, Machine learning enable the consumption of content – the things in green over there
Adaptive learning, learning exp. Platforms and recommendation, Microlearning, and gamification.
Not bad, a good place to start
But we think there are better things ahead for AI.
First, one platform.
We describe this type of structure as one door, one room
Theoretically, all learning is in one place.
Organizations that consider themselves a one-platform structure usually choose an LMS or other larger technology that has quite a bit of functionality.
That said, even organizations who, on the outset of our conversation thought they were single-platform, ended up realizing they were using significantly more technologies than they thought.
Second structure is a central system
We describe this one as one door, several rooms.
There is generally a central tool, like an lms or lxp
And then the organization augments and integrates to add functionality.
Most organziations will use that central tool as a front door – one place to go, but many options once you get there.
And then the third way is a pure ecosystem.
We describe this one as multiple doors, multiple rooms
Employees access what they want, how they want it
And, like the one platform idea, not many organizations fall here.
But many are moving this way.