Employee education for upskilling and reskilling is a bigger priority than ever before given the global shortage of skilled talent. Even so, many HR and L&D teams are still working with outdated software that doesn’t fit the needs of the modern employee (or HR administrator).
This pain point is felt even more acutely by HR and L&D pros working at large-scale enterprise organizations, often with thousands of employees in different job functions, all with different levels of education and skills needs. All of this has led to a rise in demand for learning solutions that modernize how employees learn on the job.
As with any technology, it’s important to remember that software isn't a magic fix that can upskill your workforce overnight. However, it is a powerful tool that can enable your people to take greater advantage of learning opportunities in a way that matches their lifestyles and needs. The simpler it is for your people to learn and grow their skills, the more your business benefits from these L&D initiatives.
Let's discuss the ins and outs of what makes up an enterprise learning platform and what impact this technology can have on your L&D strategy and overall business.
What is an enterprise learning platform?
An enterprise learning platform is a tool that's specifically designed for large, enterprise-level organizations. This software enables businesses to manage, track and analyze employee learning activities and progress, as well as deliver a variety of learning content, coursework and other resources to foster training, education and development.
Typically, these platforms deliver content in a digital format, allowing the ability to:
- Give learners access to content from any device, in any location and at any time
- Adjust the pace of learning to match the needs of the individual learner
- Access comprehensive analytics that help HR admins understand learner progress and other critical L&D metrics
- Quickly update content and resources to address emergent business needs
- Enable HR admins to more easily manage and maintain the system, as everything is digital
Types of enterprise learning platforms
The growing demand for this type of technology has resulted in a vast market of targeted solutions that are geared toward meeting different employee learning needs.
The two main types of learning platforms include:
- Learning Management Systems (LMS) offer comprehensive control over your employee L&D programs, providing tools and analytics for managing employee enrollment, course content and learning progress. While many LMS platforms include features that allow for course creation, this isn’t their primary purpose.
- Learning Experience Platforms (LXP) focus on highly personalized educational experiences driven by artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms. Where an LMS may have a set list of trainings, courses, and certifications required for each employee or role, an LXP will be more driven by each employee’s specific needs and interests. The system will then make suggestions for the employee to choose from.
Both LMSes and LXPs draw from multiple sources for course content:
- Course authoring platforms allow businesses to design courses, training programs and other learning content authored within an LMS platform or a third-party course-authoring program. This material is then typically administered to learners through an LMS or an LXP.
- Online course providers are web-based platforms that host learning content, such as massive open online courses (MOOCs) and other resources. Many courses are available for free while others may require a small subscription fee. Organizations can partner with an online course provider to give their employees access to their library of content free of charge.
The business impact of enterprise learning platforms
In a world where L&D is moving from “nice to have” to “need to have,” organizations need effective platforms for developing, facilitating and measuring the value of learning. In-person instruction is a cumbersome, inefficient model — particularly for adult learners already juggling the responsibilities of work and home. Companies are shifting away from traditional, in-person training and towards online learning.
Think about it: nowadays, you can have food delivered, go to a doctor’s appointment or even buy a new car entirely online. There’s no reason why workplace learning should be any different. An effective learning platform makes all the difference in serving a learning experience that’s simple and easy to access.
Key considerations for choosing an enterprise learning platform
An enterprise learning platform can function as a critical tool within your broader L&D toolkit; however, it’s vital that it’s not relied on as the end-all and be-all L&D solution for your organization.
The objective of an enterprise learning platform is to support the education, training and skills development for your workforce. For this to happen, your company first has to understand what your current skills needs are, what emergent and future skills needs may be and how to close the gaps between them to both improve employee learning and address other business concerns — retention and DEI, among others.
This means your learning technology stack can’t exist in a vacuum. A robust learning culture, supportive management, and flexible learning options designed to meet your employee’s lifestyle needs must be incorporated as part of the overall strategy.
Without these fundamentals, the technology or the content providers you choose will ultimately fall short of addressing what your business needs and what will actually work when put into practice.
Enterprise learning platforms vs. workforce education solutions
Since software by itself isn't enough to deliver L&D results a growing number of businesses are leveraging a more comprehensive solution: workforce education.
A workforce education solution may come with some of the technology capabilities of traditional learning platforms, but it also provides additional benefits that go beyond just the delivery and administration of the software. Namely, a strategic partnership that helps your business to identify your most critical workforce needs in relation to larger business goals and then develops a custom education solution that’s tailored to those goals.
Beyond the set training often offered through LMS or the more mix-and-match approach of LXPs, workforce education takes a holistic look at employee and business needs and curates courses, certifications and degree programs from a variety of high-quality academic institutions. This approach allows companies to move beyond training and short-term skills courses to include degree programs and even high school diplomas.
One step closer to modernizing your L&D strategy
Organizations have a sea of enterprise learning platforms to choose from, with new and innovative solutions consistently being added to the mix. The options can be daunting — and there’s no single right answer for such a complex question. Start with a list of must-haves for your L&D catalog and then begin to shape your offerings strategically from there. These first steps can guide internal discussions around which platform — be it LMS, LXP or workforce education — makes the most sense for your business.