Yesterday, Josh Bersin published another interesting piece about the LXP market. The market is large already ($250m) and growing at 200%+ a year as new entrants like Curatrcapitalise on the much-discussed dissatisfaction with LMSs and course catalogues. As Josh acknowledges, this blooming landscape is ripe for further innovation from us and others.
If you’re thinking of buying some learning tech or just want to understand learning ecosystems better, Josh’s article will help. I’d like to add to Josh’s bird’s-eye view of the space. This is the perspective of one of the most intelligent birds - indeed animals - in the world.
A convergence is happening. As Josh says, the LXP market has become a thing and continues to grow. As these providers grow and large clients make greater demands, the LXPs perform a greater proportion of LMS features. And as the LMSs see this and theirclients kick up a fuss, you’ll see more LXP characteristics in LMSs. None of these terms are very well defined but Josh lays out seven characteristics of the LXP which are becoming more prevalent in all learning systems: Netflix-style UX; content agnosticism; social; learning paths; badges; user-publishing; mobile-friendly, fun and fast.
LXPs will move faster than LMSs. Their technologies are newer and their people are more future-focused. So although most LMS providers will claim to embody Josh’s seven LXP characteristics, clients tell us that in most cases this is aspirational. I don’t mean this disrespectfully to LMSs - they’ve generally been around longer, are a safe bet and in the case of the disparaged-but-essential-still compliance training, they do a very good job. I think it’s obvious though that they can’t adapt their technology as quickly as the younger players like Degreed.
So, precisely because LXPs have been so successful, the line between them and LMSs has become blurred. It may be helpful to think of them all as learning systems, some with a great many modern, consumer-grade flavours, some with less.
But LXPs and LMSs alike are destinations. Whether you call them a platform or a system, it’s yet another place for the frazzled modern worker to go. Or not go. People have to do work so they’re in work technologies like email, Slack, Excel, Teams etc. They tend also to optionally spend plenty of time in enabling technologies like LinkedIn.
It's our job in this industry to help them see the benefits and derive the benefits from learning technologies, activities, programmes. And this is hard because those benefits (where there are some - one of the problems is that a lot of learning offerings miss the mark) are felt over the long-term. Frazzled people tend to live much more in the short-term. (If you’re curious about the points on this diagram, come here)
And so...recommendations. (Or rex - shorthand we use here and the excuse for this article's image).
Recommendations address a few problems alluded to above.
They stir things up. A recommendation layer catalyses a learning platform / system / ecosystem to get the right content to the right user. So things happen rather than don’t happen. And well-designed algorithmic recommendations will make it happen, straight out of the box; you’re not dependent on the goodwill of your workforce for activity
They are also portable. A kind, relevant, useful, appropriately-explained, and scalable recommendation for an individual user isn’t much data and doesn’t take up much space. So it can easily slide into an inbox, a Slack channel etc. Of course, the recommendations must be good. We all get dozens if not hundreds of recommendations to buy/read/watch stuff every day, most of it irrelevant, terrible, a waste of time and it damages rather than enhances the reputation of those making them. Making recommendations is easy. Making good recommendations is hard. Challenge providers claiming to offer recommendations on the quality of those recommendations. You’re very welcome to challenge us on the quality of ours - email me.
The market is moving forward towards better-looking, better feeling learning experiences. But the fight for the time and attention of the modern worker is as hard as ever. The dice are loaded against you and everyone in learning. That’s the game. Let's play accordingly.