In this highly competitive age, optimizing the potential of workers is essential. A learning management system (LMS) can increase both knowledge and engagement. Our benchmark research on next-generation learning management systems finds that adopting one can help almost half (46%) of organizations gain a competitive advantage, and more than one-third (35%) said it assists in helping customers. Expanded use of learning can engage customers, partners and others who need more information about an organization or its products and services. Thus we suggest that learning systems should be used for and made available in customer and third party communities. Doing so can enhance effective use of products and services and help reduce the volume of inbound calls to and interactions with the contact center.
Learning management system provider Meridian Knowledge Solutions takes such an expanded approach to meet this broader spectrum of requirements. While participating in the industry for 20 years it has amassed millions of users in hundreds of deployments.
Meridian focuses on the experience of learning to engage people who need just-in-time learning. Its approach aims to ensure organizational readiness across the lines of business and quick resolution of learning-related issues. Its software also runs on Web browsers and mobile devices and can be embedded into an organization’s application environment to be seamlessly available not only to employees but to individuals outside the organization such as customers and partners. The software can be configured without relying on IT resources to customize and is available within salesforce.com applications. For organizations that need to conduct training on policies or regulatory compliance, it offers tracking of and reporting on progress in required learning.
Its latest release, version 16.1 of Meridian Global, refines the user experience for learners and administrators with flexible single sign-on (SSO), SSL security and configuration with custom fields. It can easily be branded within an organization’s own Web framework including commerce sites. Meridian even enables refinement of error messages to be tailored to a customer’s requirements. I like the ability to have a branded mobile experience that can operate offline but still be integrated with SSO. Our next-generation learning management research finds that the majority of organizations will use mobile learning by the end of this year.
Supporting broader learning in customer and extended enterprise communities does have special requirements. For example, many organizations might want to charge for certified learning, so Meridian has added a PCI-compliant gateway with PayPal. In addition the software can be embedded or blended within Salesforce applications and pass learning data to Salesforce fields to track contacts or leads who have taken specific sessions, and this is available at no cost. Blending the learning experience with other environments is mandatory in this new generation of learning software, and Meridian has worked to ease customizing the look and feel to an organization’s approach.
Release 16.1 builds on its predecessor release in 2015, which brought to market specialized capabilities in what Meridian calls the Competency Manager, which helps align desired skills with specific learning sessions. The previous version also advanced its reporting capabilities for the organization, manager and individual levels to enable comparisons of performance to learning and provide guidance in performance evaluations. This is a valuable capability, but our research finds that only one-third (35%) of organizations tie learning to performance, and it also shows that only about the same percentage are satisfied with their current approach. Meridian Global also is integrated with virtual meeting environments from Adobe, Citrix and Cisco WebEx. For certifications, it offers support in grading to help in instructional environments and can encapsulate grading of essay questions. It has an extensive training catalogue and the ability to set up specific domains for deployment. For users that want to track learning sessions across the Internet, Google Analytics is built into its administration.
We have not yet applied our methodical Value Index to vendors and products in learning management, but I can say that Meridian has a well-balanced product that addresses a variety of roles and our product evaluation criteria of usability, manageability, adaptability and capability. It is harder to assess reliability in its performance and scalability, but the company has customers willing to speak for it in a variety of enterprise and extended deployments. Meridian makes its products accessible through private or public cloud computing and on-premises deployments which provides organizations variety of choice in deployment. Its technology is adaptable to languages and time zones to ensure it can be used simultaneously around the world. I would like to see more advances in integrating with business and social collaboration environments, which could enable the LMS to blend further into new employee and customer communities, although the company works with its customers on integration with collaboration environments like Jive. Meridian is validated as a vendor in this segment with a range of customers across many industries including In-N-Out Burger, the state of Oregon, the FBI, Intuit Toshiba, Marketo and US Cellular.
Some vendors of learning management systems have been acquired by others that provide talent management suites and are focused on integrating the LMS with their own applications. And many of those software companies are building brand new learning software. Meridian on the other hand is an independent LMS provider who is already well established in the market and with its products. This may attract organizations looking for a stand-alone approach that can be used outside of talent management or embedded for workforce needs and also for customers, partners, suppliers and others that need access to learning sessions. I expect that Meridian will be able find growth in the academic field, for continuing career education or paid sessions for certification.
Organizations looking for a dedicated learning management system provider for internal employees or customers should consider Meridian. It can complement existing HR and talent management investments while being embedded and branded to corporate or customer requirements whether through the Web or mobile devices.
CEO and Chief Research Officer