Social Learning – Going beyond the LMS
By Jim Lundy
We just published our Learning Trends for 2013 and one thing is clear: the days of only focusing on the LMS are winding down. The rise of informal Learning – which is called Social Learning is here. Learning and Development Professionals have always used tools to get learners to collaborate. Often it has been a discussion forum based community.
The good news for L&D professionals is that Social Learning has grown up. The providers’ product offerings have matured. The big thing missing for many of the major providers is that they have done so many customizations with their on-premise deployments, it has often stalled a migration to the Cloud or to the latest Social Learning offering. This has been true for some of the major learning providers, such as Saba and SuccessFactors (Plateau). We will talk later about some of the migration programs Saba announced this week.
Social Learning 3.0
Social Learning 3.0 is all about blending formal and informal learning into a modern social experience. It isn’t just about attaching an activity stream to the LMS, it is about a real learning experience. Take a class, including a virtual class that is taught remotely via Video. That is part of the Social Learning 3.0 experience, but there is more, such as the simple act of finding the right content to perform a task. We talk about this in our Learning Trends Research Note , and that will be part of our ongoing research agenda, including a Research Note this month titled, “The Return of the Virtual Classroom”.
Social Learning and Learning Vendors
In the technology provider space, we see more full fledged Learning Platforms that are fully social. Saba and SuccessFactors (SAP) have made moves to update their offerings. PeopleFluent bought SocialText and we expect to see more moves there. Cornerstone OnDemand can’t be counted out either, although they don’t lead with their Social capabilities.
SumTotal Systems has done some interesting integrations with Microsoft SharePoint, an ECM offering which we believe is installed in over 80% of large enterprises. Oracle still offers all of its legacy LMS offerings and it is positioning Oracle Taleo Learn as its Flagship offering. The one vendor who is making waves in HCM, but has no Learning offering at all is Workday. More on them in future posts.
Of course the Tech Titan that just started to flex its muscle in HCM is IBM. They bought Kenexa last year (see Aragon Research First Cut) and we expect to see more acquisitions from them in 2013. IBM is a force in Collaboration and it is doing more with its IBM Connections offering than many give them credit for. It is also important to note that IBM has a strong Services Practice in Human Capital Management and we see tighter alignment between IBM Global Business Services (GBS) and IBM Software Group going forward.
There are many others as well. Meridian KSI has been on the march, particularly in Public Sector. Smaller Providers are also making a mark. Expertus offers LMS capabilities and an easy to use informal learning capability. MindFlash offer easy Learning integration with Yammer. New startups, such as Bloomfire offer a total focus on sharing knowledge and content.
Social Learning in the Enterprise
The problem is that L&D professionals often accept the status quo (from their Learning vendor). Many users hate the user interface that have from their current LMS provider. Josh Bersin and I were discussing this yesterday while we were together at the Saba Analyst day. The question is, how long will it take for enterprises to realize that there is more to learning than the LMS. Our take is that if you are just on the hunt to replace your existing LMS, you are doing it wrong. The other take is that if you are just buying a standalone Enterprise Social Software Platform (ESN) just for Social Learning, it probably doesn’t do Learning well enough.
However, the flip side of that is that Software Ecosystems are on the rise. Just as with MindFlash working with Yammer, we are seeing others, such as Cornerstone that offer Learning via via Salesforce’s Force.com Platform – AppExchange. Enterprises still need to make decisions on how they will deliver Social Learning. In some cases, it isn’t a one size fits all choice. Note also, that as Software Ecosystems and their affiliated App Stores proliferate, enterprises will have more choice. As an additional example, besides Cornerstone, Sales Congo also offers training as an option in AppExchange.
Our Aragon Research Globe for Learning is under construction and it will have a lot to say about Social Learning. Stay tuned for our view on these providers and many others. One thing is clear, Business Leaders are not waiting for L&D to figure out what they are going to do with next generation learning. Social Learning is here. The question is, how does your enterprise take advantage of it?
Editors Note: See our new Special Report on the Resurgence in Learning. Contact us to learn more about our full coverage of the Learning market and our approach to Social HCM (Social Recruiting, Video Recruiting, and Social Performance). If you are trying to figure out what to do with your current LMS and overall Learning Program, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will set-up a complimentary inquiry call with an analyst.