For the last six months, I’ve been deep in the weeds of evaluative research on learning platforms, and it has been eye-opening. Organizations are rapidly adapting to skills-based talent models, talent shortages are continuing to drive interest and investment in learning and development, and generative AI (genAI) is disrupting how learning is being built and delivered. Clients can read the full report here: The Forrester Wave™: Learning Management Systems And Experience Platforms, Q1 2024.

Here are three big takeaways from this research:

  1. Standalone authoring tools are dead. When I did a prior iteration of this Forrester Wave™ in 2021, most content was created in standalone authoring tools such as Adobe Captivate and Articulate’s Storyline. These tools, used primarily by instructional design professionals, were as necessary to the development and delivery of learning as the platforms themselves. In 2024, nearly every platform I assessed had a native authoring tool, and several were as capable as any standalone tool.
    Takeaway: If you’re still paying for a separate authoring tool, it’s time to revisit your learning platform’s capabilities.
  2. Platform categories are blurry. For nearly five years, I have divided learning platforms into four categories: learning management system, or LMS (delivers content); learning experience platform, LXP (curates the experience); digital adoption platform, or DAP (provides embedded learning in business applications); and skills development platform (contains content). Today, these circles have moved closer and closer together until there is barely any way to distinguish them. Most LMS platforms have robust LXP capabilities. Many are also capable of headless/stateless delivery, allowing them to be embedded in business applications, and an increasing number of learning platforms are shipping with a significant amount of content, either directly or through partnerships.
    Takeaway: While you still likely need more than one learning platform in your ecosystem, you might not need as many as you have.
  3. GenAI brings opportunity and risk. Like every other business process, genAI is making its mark on learning. Some vendors have been early movers in the space, incorporating genAI into authoring tools to evaluate submissions and create more interactive experiences for learning. Thoughtful use of genAI brings great potential in learning applications, but there are risks, as well. Most genAI tools don’t do a good job of citing sources, which can lead to copyright violations. It’s still not clear who will be on the hook when genAI makes mistakes.
    Takeaway: Before you implement promising new capabilities of genAI, make sure that you know how it works so you can evaluate the risks.

Forrester clients can read the whole report to see the scoring details, along with the criteria we use to determine which vendors are most able to help you with specific priorities and case studies. Also, request an inquiry or guidance session with me to learn more.