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The evolution of extended enterprise learning: Talented Learning’s John Leh talks LMS trends

With decades of experience in the elearning industry, John Leh, of Talented Learning, is an expert at spotting learning technology trends. He speaks to LEO Learning about extended enterprise learning and the importance of finding the right solutions for a broad audience.

Hi John. Tell us a bit about your background and how you have seen extended enterprise learning evolve.

John: I was lucky enough to get a Master’s degree in instructional technology. Everybody who came out of that programme went on to work in HR doing L&D for companies.

By chance, I took a job with a marketing communications company that was expanding into elearning. All of their clients were high-tech and telecom companies. All they wanted to do was train their channel partners and customers, and they operated as measurable profit centres vs cost centres in their organisations.

For example, if you know which resellers of your products are certified, you can look at their sales performance before and after they became certified. Then you can look at things like how profitable their sales are and how long a particular sale takes to close. For decades, organisations have been training their ‘external’ audiences for competitive differentiation.

I’ve spent my whole career looking to see what organisations are doing that is innovative and how they’re pushing the envelope in extended enterprise learning. The only thing that’s changed from 23 years ago is that the content and delivery is much better.

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How are LMSes helping organisations to provide successful enterprise learning?

John: Many LMSes are specialised to reach channel partners, who aren’t necessarily individuals.

Say you’re an insurance company. You might have independent insurance agents all around the country that are reselling your products. They might actually sell a couple of organisations’ products.

Organisations like that are spending a lot of money and investment to provide better enterprise learning experiences through their LMS. They know that if those agents know more about their products and can sell their products more easily than a competitor’s, they will.

So you see lots of initiatives to improve the distribution channels’ ability to sell products. And the biggest factor is what do you do with your customers? How can you onboard them quicker and get them using your products more quickly and more effectively, more religiously so that they’ll buy your products forever?

How can you get them to buy more? How do you get your customers to be advocates for you in the marketplace? All these things are being impacted by learning technologies and management systems.

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Can you give us some examples of the learning challenges you’re seeing at organisations you work with?

John: Learning used to be like a back office thing, saving money with regulatory compliance. Now it’s moved right to the executive table. Organisations are asking ‘how can we use this, make an initiative and measure it? And if it works let’s do more of it, and if it doesn’t, let’s not.’

I have one global organisation I’m working with where I found seven different LMSes in the organisation. There were three for customers, three for employees and one for both, and none of them knew about the others. It’s about bringing them together centrally.

Add up what you’re spending in all these different areas, how much it costs you to duplicate the same content and create it from scratch seven times over. There’s a lack of clear messaging if seven people are creating content in different ways.

The cost of maintenance, licenses – all of that dwarfs the cost of a new system that would make you ten times as efficient.

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Looking ahead, what LMS trends do you predict we might be talking about this time next year and why?

John: What I see continuing is the evolution of specialisation and the fragmentation of the market. Innovation is going off in all directions, depending on the specialisations involved. I don’t see that coming to an end any time soon.

There are so many mergers and acquisitions happening within the industry now. Every day somebody is consolidating these specialised systems into broader specialised systems that are deeper and more effective.

Platforms aren’t just providing learning – they’re providing event management, CRM, marketing automation and more, all wrapped up in one solution. It’s so much more than an LMS.

Mergers are going to change the market in ways that are hard to predict, but you know they’re coming. They’ll change the playing field. Learning Technologies Group is a perfect example.

With 700 different vendors and solutions out there, all these unique parts are being combined to create a whole that is so much more. That’s going to continue.

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If you found this topic interesting, you might want to download LEO Learning’s ebook, ‘Learners outside your organisation: The power of new learning relationships

LEO Learning has the experience and expertise to find and implement the right solutions for your extended enterprise learning. Contact us today to discover how we can help.

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John Leh is CEO and Lead Analyst at Talented Learning.