Informal learning; the silky finery of Learning Management Systems (the latest HRchitect Beauty Pageant)

Once again I attended the latest HRchitect Beauty Pageant last Friday – this time it was all about learning management systems, an older, more established part of the HR space as compared with talent acquisition systems and talent management in general.

According to HRchitect, learning management systems:

LMS is important to career development, succession planning and performance management, and so it makes sense that better integration with talent management suites will continue to be a growing trend (as it already is throughout talent management products and related services).

Some of the players from the first pageants were in this one as well: SumTotal, Cornerstone OnDemand, Plateau Systems, GeoLearning and OutStart.

As I did during the first two pageants, I listened to each presentation with primarily a marketing ear, but also as a potential buyer. Unfortunately the overall presentations were still static, dry, and chock full of insider baseball, confusing diagrams and industry jargon.

Although there weren't any softballs for me this time like globalability or smartify, does "open activity architecture" really mean all that much to the executive management team (with the exception of the CTO and IT of course)? And enough with "synchronous" and "asynchronous" and "best-in-breed technology" – just please tell me how you can help me improve my workforce you're your learning system. On the lighter side, Cornerstone and GeoLearning did have a little more fun with the pageant theme with comments like "we'll now show you some of silky finery" and "we're wearing Donna Karan".

It was still nice to see that all the vendors delivered via SaaS, even though a few still have onsite deployment. SaaS isn't going anywhere and will continue to proliferate software delivery across industries, particularly in the human capital space.

One differentiator that only a few of the pageant participants pulled off nicely was the customer success story. If you can't show customer return, and if your customers aren't willing to go on the record, just saying you're best-in-breed doesn't mean squat.

The winners for me were the vendors who talked about the differences between formal learning and informal learning, and how social networking and workplace communities will play important roles in training and development. These are the realities that organizations are facing today and informal learning will continue to play ever-growing role in the lives of employees around the world. The reference of Jay Cross's work on informal learning was a nice touch as well.

The winner for me was Cornerstone OnDemand with GeoLearning coming in a close second. The rest of the voting audience just got it backwards (wink).

Don't forget to sign up for the next beauty pageant in the new year, January 9 – mid-market applicant tracking systems.

Happy Holidays!

Post by Kevin Grossman

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