Talent Development Platforms – R Here

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Just when you thought there couldn’t be any more niche segments in the learning system space, I’m sorry to say, “nope, there is one more.”  But this new segment, while niche today, by 2025, will be the second biggest segment in the learning system space.  

Niche today.  Behemoth within four years. 

Talent Development Platforms are made up of three core components, and if thus if someone says we are a talent development platform and lacks any of the three, then no, you are not.  A Talent management system is not a TDP. Nor is a performance management system.  

The number of talent development platforms as of today is quite small. By the end of 2021, I am projecting at least 50.  Granted, you could say that is still small, a blip if you will, but let’s remember in the first year of the LXP space, there were around 15.   

This post will cover a multitude of items for this new segment and its future i.e. what will happen to the LMS market as a result (by 2025) – at least from what I see, so think of it as a forecast. 

Areas to be presented

  1. What constitutes a Talent Development Platform?
  2. How is it different than an LMS or LXP or LMS Ecosystem or Learning Platform?
  3. What feature sets are important to have in a TDP?
  4. By 2025, what will occur with the learning system space as it relates to TDPs and the rest of the market?

What constitutes a Talent Development Platform?

Going forward, I will refer to a Talent Development Platform as TDP.  

A TDP is made up of three core components

  1. Content – It is an essential driver
  2. Learning –  Another essential driver 
  3. Skills mapping tied around job roles and career development
  4. Skills tied to job roles tied to “opportunities” 

A talent development platform says in essence an organization directs employee development thru specific content pushed to a specific job role (current) and future within the organization.  This is achieved with skills mapping and career development. 

Job Roles and Skills go hand in hand here. There isn’t any of this personal and professional development push here, except when it comes to having a specific or set of PD tied to the job role.  Thus the “interests” angle, doesn’t apply.  The “I am interested in data science, even though I am an accountant,” doesn’t apply either, unless the manager or the organization sees that individual as a potential fit for a data scientist. 

Can you still offer PD in your TDP? Sure, but that’s not really its main objective, otherwise, you could do that just as easily with an LMS, LXP, Learning Platform. 

The best way to explain how the content+learning+career development tied around skills mapping works is to present an example. 

Example 

Jen works in marketing.  Within her marketing job role, she needs a series of specific skill sets.  While Jen may have some of those skill sets, it is likely she does not have all of them (they should be constantly updated).  Behind the scenes within the system, the skills are mapped to the job role.  You still can have skill ratings, and assessment if you will, which only helps with the push-out content tied to the skills mapped to the job role. 

Let’s say Jen is interested in other opportunities at the organization.  The opportunities are presented either as “everyone sees them” or can be targeted just for Jen, based on her consumption of content tied around skills, wait for it, back to her current job role.  In this scenario, though, let’s say, everyone who is on the TDP, sees the same job opportunity.

Jen wants to apply, but before she can, she sees what skills are required for this opportunity. She realizes she is missing five skill sets, which she must achieve to be considered for this opportunity.   Jen selects the playlist or playlists of content tried around the skill sets she is lacking.  She completes them or completes the modules within that she needs for this opportunity.  Perhaps she is provided an assessment at the end for validation/verification of acquisition Or not (dependent on the hiring manager and administrator of course).  

Jen scores well, enough (let’s say there is a minimum score) and now can apply for this opportunity.  The system either via integration or already within it has an area where she can apply.  

Jen though doesn’t just stop using the system.  She continues to build and develop even more skills tied around her current role – both on her own – selecting her own content playlists around her role or assigned by her manager.   

All those wonderful learning features and functionality that exist in many LMSs and other learning systems such as some LXPs (most lack parts though) are part of the talent development platform.  

What is the difference between an LMS and a TDP?

It all depends on what you are using the LMS or LXP or whatever for.  If you are using your LMS or LXP for example, for skill development and building tied around job roles, then what a TDP does is truly zero in on that premise by focusing specifically on career development.  Your learning is all about your job role. Nothing more (well, if you are seen as a candidate for another job role in the organization), nothing less. 

Thus if you are not including personal or professional development in your LMS, LXP, etc. nor allowing your employees to take any content of interest to them, then a TDP is the right solution for you.

If your assigned learning playlist or channel is tied specifically around that person’s job role and includes skills they need to acquire/develop/re-learn, then a TDP is a solution for you. 

However,

If you are using your LMS, LXP, etc. for customer education/training, partner training, B2B/B2C a TDP is not for you. 

If you are offering personal and professional development content to your employees as the key focus of your training/learning (on top of whatever proprietary content you have them taking), and that while you see the job role relevant, you also see the employee as acquiring skills beyond the job role that will never be tied to the job role, then a TDP is not for you. 

If you are offering only compliance and regulatory-specific content and nothing else – so the skills angle doesn’t apply, then a TDP is not for you.   It would though be if your compliance content is tied specifically to a certain job role or roles and you have skills mapped to it – but generally speaking, the career development angle doesn’t typically go this route.  Unless that job role is in compliance. 

If you provide proprietary content to your employees tied around the job role but their acquisition of skills tied to that role isn’t relevant or needed, for example, a TDP is not for you. 

Could someone offer the functionality of a TDP within an LMS or an LXP for example?

Sure, but not likely all the functionality.  Just bits.  Today there are plenty of LMSs and even some LXPs that offer skill gap analysis.  There are many learning systems that have some level of skill development and acquisition around a job role per se, some more extensive than others – and some with none at all. 

If you hear your learning system vendor say “we are in the performance support” business or learning, they are a TDP. 

If the learning system vendor says their system is all about learning and training, then they are not a TDP. 

If your learning system lacks 3rd party content providers (in a marketplace for you buy), uh, they are not a TDP.  Remember content is essential here – especially 3rd party off-the-shelf content – simply because of more options. 

I mean if you want a TDP, then you still want them to offer the right amount of learning features and functionality, including NexGen – but you also want them to have NexGen or what I refer to in my template as “Future Tech” on their roadmap or already in. 

What Department/roles decision-makers are TDPs targeting?

CLOs, L&D execs, and HR.  HR is big here.  And since some L&D folks work under HR, you can see where this is going, and why a TDP would be of interest. 

Could I have a TDP tied to my LMS or LXP or whatever?

The answer is yes, but it will depend on the other learning system vendor.  That said, if you are going TDP, since it has the three components you are seeking, two of which are in other learning systems – learning and content, then there wouldn’t be much value to keeping an LMS for example.  Unless your TDP doesn’t have multi-tenants and that is of interest to you, OR there are features you have in your LMS that are not in the TDP, then yes the connection would make sense. 

But I cannot stress this enough a TDP is not a talent management nor performance management system, so if you are angling it to be that, recognize that it will have some features like one of those, by is no means one of those. 

I mean an electric bike has features that do not exist in one that is not an electric bike. So if you want an electric bike, you will buy an electric bike.  You wouldn’t buy a bike and create an electric bike by connecting it to a battery (DO NOT DO THIS).  You would buy an electric bike. 

Be Aware

That you will have vendors who will note in their marketing copy they are a talent development platform but will lack all three components OR will some of the #3, which is why I strongly recommend using my template which lists the feature sets both current and future that qualify under a TDP.  

The Key Features of a TDP 

These are all under “Talent Development”.  It is up to you to decide if you want these features or not, but this is a list of what I see are needed, either now, or as noted in “future tech” for a TDP to be an actual TDP and not one that is “pseudo-TDP”. 

In no particular order 

  • Skills mapping to career development  (remember that content plays a key here, so not just map some skills to their development path, you need the content too) – Some vendors might note this as “Career mapping”
  • Skills mapping to the job role (ditto -i.e. content aspect to above)
  • The system comes with Skills, Job Roles/Titles component – massive listing (example: 40,000 roles, 10,000 skills (and yes, I know it does exist in other learning system types, for example, LMS)
  • Skills tied to opportunities (openings or for example, specific limited opportunities such as a project manager for an upcoming project) in the company/organization
  • Career Planning – I do not see it as the same as skill mapping to career development, I see this more as the moment you hire someone out of school, for example, so initial step for content and skills acquisition around their career. 
  • Link to a career development framework and match skills, job level, and job role to available content
  • Content tied exclusively to job roles/job level 
  • Skills tied to job roles/job profiles, which can be used to submit to jobs within the company (if applicable/available as part of the system)
  • Analytics directly tied to career development and acquisition of skills to specific job roles
  • The system can use job roles to identify and present recommended or suggested content (constantly updated)
  • Content playlist tied directly to job role opportunities that end-user might be qualified or have an interest in such an opportunity
  • Content Playlists recommending skills tied to opportunities within the company
  • Ability to integrate with other job boards, job sites (internal/external)
  • Goal management
  • Leadership development wrapped around the content playlist and tied to analytics to validate potential as a future leader (tied to skills)
  • Succession Planning tied to a set of content playlists/content and metrics that can identify potential candidates over a period of time
  • Performance Reviews wrapped around the content and skill acquisition within the system 
  • 360 Feedback 
  • Skill gap analysis 
  • Ability to create/edit playlists based on requirements for a job opportunity within the company

Under Future Tech

  • Analytics directly tied to content and career planning/mapping and skills mapping to the job role
  • Analytics identifying assessment results tied to job role based on skill acquisition (Skills are identified with competency results to each one OR show the continuance of progression for the acquisition of skills required to the role and/or opportunity)
  • Ability to create assessments tied to specific content and skills to be taken and completed by employee prospect –
  • Create assessments tied to the content and skills for the job role, and measure over a period of time to others in a similar role or job level
  • Future Tech – Analytics showing results of the assessment of content by the prospect for that job opportunity – then tapped into analytics to measure outcomes compared to other candidates
  • Future Tech – Analytics tied to playlists based on requirements for job opportunities within the company, with skill success to each piece of content, ability to identify challenges, an applicant (current employee) must overcome

What is Future Tech?

I identify it as learning technology/functionality, that I believe is necessary for the success and growth of that system, that is either not in existence today or extremely rare to find. 

2025 Forecast

Based totally on early trends, so sure, it could change, but nevertheless, this is the forecast.

In the LMS segment, vendors will splinter into three groups – i.e. how their system is developed, whom they target, approach, etc. 

a.  Main audience – Employees, with pieces of TD in the system  – not enough to go full-blown TDP

b.  Main Audience – Customers, as in customer training/education, partner training, B2B/B2C, training providers, training consultants (who sell their own content, webinars, etc.),  This is a growing segment today, it will continue.  These vendors do not target nor focus on employees (i.e. internal).. 

c. Main Audience – A combo of both – they try to get both audiences, this exists today. 

The LMSs will become ecosystems and thus include what many deem as an LXP as an overlay or layer or component, depending on your spin. 

The second biggest group will be Talent Development Platforms.  So even with the splintering of the LMS market, it will still be the largest.  

Next are learning platforms, such as upskilling platforms, or micro-learning platforms, or a learning platform in some other fashion. Coaching platforms slide in here as well. as does Training Management systems – whose main focus is scheduling – it is a core component with far more scheduling capabilities than in an LMS, other types of learning platforms as well.

And as early noted, there are vendors who call themselves Training Mgt systems, which are not, but they are unaware of the scheduling heavy angle.  For example, the best training management system on the market is Training Orchestra.  Once you see it, you will see what I mean by scheduling angle. 

Lastly – any vendor who still calls themselves an LXP, and are solely an LXP.  

Talent Development Platforms

There are a handful out today, but here are four that stand out

  1. Degreed – Yep, they are a talent development platform.  Fun fact – They were the first LXP on the market. 
  2. Schoox – Talent Development Platform 
  3. Cornerstone Develop plus Careers – So here you need to buy these two modules to make it a Talent Development Platform. Frankly, once you do, you can see how smooth the connection is. 
  4. Juno Journey – The UI may not be for everyone, but I loved it.  This is a TDP, I would definitively use. 

On the horizon

Biz Library will be launching a Talent Development Platform in Q3 2021 (calendar year). 

What about?

SumTotal Talent Development – But not all the components of it (they are in the system, you just pay to turn certain ones on, some are included).  So, Learning exists, content exists, and the other component.

However, SumTotal lists “recruiting” or “compensation” as parts of talent development.   Neither of those items is part of a TDP, in case you were wondering.  Why SumTotal does it? No clue. 

 Their performance, by the way, slides into goal management, 360 feedback, performance reviews, and some other items that qualify under the TDP functionality.  

Who is on the border?

Personally, I think EdCast is.  But not the Spark version, that is definitely not.  I could see EdCast referring to themselves as a TDP – the bigger product, which is referred to as “EdCast” and targets the large enterprise. As we speak they have an add-on (additional cost) with career mapping. 

PeopleFluent – Pretty darn close. The Instilled LXP would be the recommended add-on. 

My Template for a Talent Development Platform that you can use for your search is here.  For those who wonder will a vendor complete this template, if they want your business yes. Secondly, it is very detailed, because many folks end up hating their system because they didn’t ask for certain feature sets or functionality, and just assumed it was in there because of the vagueness. This eliminates it. 

One Final Note, okay two

I do not consider Workday Learning to be a TDP nor Workday itself.

Workday is an HCM, so yes they will have talent development features, but that “content” piece is not the core piece here, and learning while provided is secondary as well.  And for those curious, Skills Cloud is available to anyone on the HCM, you do not need Workday Learning.  

On my FindAnLMS platform, as of today, Degreed and Schoox are on it, as it relates to TDP. EdCast is there as well, and PeopleFluent (you know the two on the border). SumTotal is there too, but not listing TDP features. 

FAL will include TDPs in Q2 2021, and some key feature sets that you can select from, etc.  

Bottom Line

Talent Development Platforms are here. 

Always remember the Three, uh 3’s

  1. Content – it drives the whole thing
  2. Learning  – an integral and necessary part
  3. Skills mapping to job roles and career development 

All three must exist, hand in hand. 

Without each one of them, you do not have a TDP, 

You 

Have something else. 

And it isn’t an electric bike, either. 

E-Learning 24/7 

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