Did Our 2016 LMS Technology Predictions Come True?


How much did the learning management system (LMS) technology market grow in 2016? Did more providers embrace the cloud? Is video becoming a dominant online learning format? Last January, we addressed these questions and offered our predictions for the coming year.

Now it’s time to see whether our 2016 LMS forecast was accurate.

In an effort to gauge the accuracy of our January predictions, we’ve analyzed several recent swings and shifts in the LMS marketplace. Let’s take a look at those developments to see whether our predictions came to pass!

1. Are more education providers embracing cloud technology? You bet they are.

Nearly all organizations rely on the cloud in some form or another. But in the case of education providers, is the cloud just an information delivery mechanism or is it becoming the principal way to manage content, courses, and learner accounts?

Last January, we predicted that professional education providers would begin moving more their operations to the the cloud. It looks like we were right.

According to a November 2016 Frost & Sullivan report, Global Enterprise Learning Management Systems (LMS) Market: Forecast to 2022, “a solid movement to the cloud” is a major reason the global LMS market is poised to experience an 11.9% annual growth rate in coming years. And since a cloud-based LMS is relatively easy to adopt (low barrier to entry) and often more feature-rich than homegrown applications, it’s not hard to see why it’s becoming the standard.

Learners like the cloud because they can access content and personal records on the go. Administrators like it because they can manage learner data and educational content in one place.

Among corporate and professional education providers, notes the Frost & Sullivan report, “hyper connectivity” is “driving movement to the cloud.” The relative speed, scale, and flexibility of cloud-based learning tools probably doesn’t hurt either.

2. Video is taking off.

In our January forecast, we noted that support for video was one of the most strongly desired features among organizations that use an LMS. Well, it still is – and publishers are creating lots of video content.

For evidence of the demand for educational content in online video format, look no further than the most recent MarketsandMarkets report on learning software. According to the report, “video and audio-based content management” is one of the biggest reasons why learning management systems will hold the largest market share of in the learning software market between 2016 and 2021.

Providers want video because learners want video. Organizations are simply responding to the needs of their audience.

3. Is blended learning blending deeper?

Another of our 2016 predictions was that blended learning would “blend deeper” as more live events in the continuing professional education (CE) space incorporated LMS functionality for things like:

We’ve already established that more corporate and professional education providers are relying on LMS technologies. But are continuing education providers introducing more tech to their traditional learner experience? That can be hard to quantify, but our recent observations suggest that they are.

For starters, CE learners increasingly prefer an online experience. What’s more, they’re even demanding an online element to live meetings – a type of CE activity that’s defined by the fact that it doesn’t occur virtually!

That doesn’t mean learners are ceasing to attend live meetings en masse. However, it does mean that they want to select, register for, and engage in communications about live events online rather than in person. They’re looking to streamline the details of their CE participation.

If that’s not blended learning, it’s at least a blended learning experience.

It’s also a great way to make CE accessible to busy professionals. The line between live events and 100% online activities might not be blurring, so to speak, but providers who focus on live meetings are definitely using technology to make the overall experience more convenient to learners.

4. Big data definitely got bigger.

The continued growth of big data probably doesn’t qualify as our boldest 2016 prediction. Long story short, big data got a lot bigger in 2016.

However, the more salient part of our prediction (and the slightly bolder part) was that big data would become even more essential to the LMS and professional education spheres. Did it? Let’s take a look at the data.

According to the same MarketsandMarkets report that underscored the growth of LMS video, the ability to “track the learner’s usage of training materials, manage course access of learners, create reports, [and] manage course properties” are increasingly critical for education providers. These capabilities are key to providers’ competitiveness. They’re also essential for delivering a learner experience that’s second to none.

So, yes. Big data is becoming a bigger deal for professional education providers. It’s helping these organizations provide better educational experiences to their learners, and that’s a really great thing.

You don’t have to predict the future to stay at the edge.

In the CE technology space, all trends point strongly to greater reliance on cloud-based technologies, more interactive learning formats, and an increasing emphasis on data-driven decision making. There’s no way to know what specific shifts and changes lie on the horizon. But all signs indicate more automation is in our future.

That’s good news. In the old days, learning technologies were anywhere from basic to nonexistent. Nowadays, things like tests and evaluations, activity/course authoring, and learner data management can be afterthoughts.

Innovation is making all of our professional lives easier. If things continue down the same path – and it looks like they will – 2017 is shaping up to be an exciting year.