Businesses invest in learning management systems to reskill staff 

Businesses are stepping up their investment in sophisticated IT systems to manage the training and development of their workforce

Businesses are stepping up their investment in sophisticated IT systems to manage the training and development of their workforce.

Spending on learning management systems (LMS) technology, which allows businesses to manage the skills development of their workforce, is set to grow by 12% in Europe, the Middle East and Africa in 2012, according to analyst group Bersin & Associates.

The downturn, combined with growing compliance regulation, has led to growth in the number of businesses using LMS to develop talent in-house, the research group claimed.

“With the economy as it is, increasing regulation, increasing demand for skills, talent management and careers planning are becoming much more strategically important,” said Bersin & Associates research vice-president David Mallon, in an interview with Computer Weekly.

Learning management systems have evolved from simple course booking systems into platforms that allow companies to manage the career development and training needs of their workforce.

The latest systems use social media to help employees exchange information and to identify subject experts in their organisations.

With budgets increasingly tight, businesses are increasingly looking to LMS technology to help them develop skills in-house rather than competing on the jobs market for hard-to-find skills, said Mallon.

At the same time, the introduction of video and social media-based training, has led to more businesses turning back to e-learning programmes to help train employees.

“In Europe and Asia there has been scepticism about the value of e-learning, but that has changed in the past couple of years, plus the economy is causing companies to do things differently,” he said.

Spending on learning management systems technology is set to grow by 12% in Europe, the Middle East and Africa in 2012

Compliance is also driving companies to invest in learning management systems, to demonstrate to regulators that staff are trained in the relevant legislation.

Oil companies, for example, want to be able to demonstrate that their employees comply with industry regulations, following the BP oil spillage, said Mallon.

The market for learning management systems is at a crossroads, as large learning management suppliers focus more on talent management, he said.

At the same time, new suppliers are emerging that specialise in vertical sectors such as healthcare or insurance, with their own specialist learning management systems.

Mallon advises IT departments to look at the wider needs of the company, rather than focusing on learning management alone, when choosing a system.

“Take your time. You don’t necessarily have to go to one of the big guys. There is a flurry of new entrants that are very capable, so you have a lot of options in this space,” he said.

Bersin predicts that demand for LMS will slow between 2012 and 2013, however, because of a combination of competition from the cloud and difficult economic conditions.

This will create a buyer’s market, giving IT departments an opportunity to negotiate competitive deals, said Mallon.

Image: iStockphoto/Thinkstock

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