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Learning Services Vendors Revamp Their Offerings

Demand for learning services has been the lowest of all the HR outsourcing services over the last few years. But while the market has been in a lull, several suppliers have taken the time to revamp their learning services businesses in one of two ways.

The first approach is about honing learning offerings around one specific learning function. Sometimes this is about refining one function while providing other learning services as an add-on; an example is Expertus, who has developed its ExpertusOne platform, which often includes learning administration services. Alternatively, it can be about focusing on offering just one or two learning functions. An example of the latter is Intrepid Learning who, in late 2014, sold its traditional learning BPO business to Xerox, focusing exclusively on two learning technology products it launched a year earlier: Learning Hub and Corporate MOOC.

The second approach is about building a holistic transformational learning offering where the objective is to ultimately take over an organization’s learning function or to incorporate learning services into a wider talent management suite. An example is Accenture’s talent development offering, which includes learning, recruitment, performance management, succession planning, compensation management, and workforce forecasting and analytics. However, even with an all-encompassing objective, such suppliers recognize that buyers are proceeding cautiously and purchasing selective learning functions at a time. 

One thing is clear: in the last few years, vendors have taken the time to define their core capability and set it in motion, which has also involved making acquisitions as well as divestments. For example, both GP Strategies and Capita have been particularly acquisitive. Many of GP Strategies’ acquisitions have been focused on expanding its geographic footprint in the U.K. and Europe, while Capita’s acquisition of KnowledgePool in 2013 was arguably the most significant since it essentially added a private sector learning business to its portfolio. 

Talent2, on the other hand, sold its Registered Training Organizations (RTO) business, which consisted of five RTOs offering training and assessments to businesses as well as consumers, to focus on its core learning and HR advisory services.

Regardless of the differing strategies in play, suppliers across the board share the same goal of making training targeted, effective, and readily available for their clients.

NelsonHall is currently conducting a global market analysis on learning services. Further trends from this research will follow.

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