What now for the LMS?


Notes on the Degreed/Pathgather Acquisition

The recent acquisition of Pathgather by Degreed, analyzed here by Josh Bersin, raises some interesting questions for the learning industry. Not least for the traditional LMS providers who appear to be in a particularly tight spot.

The LMS has two basic functions.

It maintains the learning records of employees. What courses they’ve taken, what courses they are enrolled in. In essence, it allows a large organization to document and prove that employees have taken training, particularly training that is mandatory for legal and compliance reasons.

Its second core purpose is to provide a single access point for employees into all online learning. Users can find elearning courses housed in the LMS and link out to external digital learning via the LMS. However, they’re pretty bad at it. The user experience is dated. Access for learners is complex. The way the system connects to external content and platforms is limited. The whole thing feels tired to a user base that is now used to seamless digital experiences.

And this is what Degreed (and other so-called Learning Experience Platforms) has leveraged to great effect. Interestingly, Degreed is fundamentally similar to the LMS in that they are the access point into learning, rather than the learning experience itself. But that’s for another blog post.

While LMS providers are being squeezed by the Learning Experience Platforms for their access to learning function, their record keeping function is being integrated into broader HR and ERP platforms, such as Workday. The ground occupied by the LMS providers is being attacked from both sides and I’m not sure where they can go.

The one thing going for the LMS providers is that ditching them is not something that can happen overnight. It can take years. They have some time to reinvent themselves. But with many (like SkillSoft and their SumTotal LMS) already halfway through dubious transformations, the signs are not good.

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Tim Sarchet

COO & Co-founder


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