Here’s an interesting article from Josh Bersin regarding the strategic importance of learning management (LMS) and talent management systems (performance and succession management, for example) and how the various vendors are evolving to offer end-to-end capabilities.

My take-away is that if you have the money to build, staff, and maintain these enormous systems then you can do some fantastic work with e-classrooms, asynchronous self-study modules, informal learning (ie, Facebook-like social networking), tracking, and analyzing the impact of knowledge investments on performance and succession planning rankings as well as impact on retention. They’re a great way to cut down travel and to broaden the reach of your training but they are very complex to install and maintain so your per-employee allocated investment needs to be moderately stable year over year.

Naturally, and appropriately, investments need to prove their impact on the business bottom line across any number of appropriate measures, some of which should be quantitative (sales volume, quality measures, customer satisfaction, employee engagement scores, etc.) and some of which must remain qualitative (employee and/or customer conversations, cultural investments / indicators, organizational “folklore” or stories commonly told to represent the “truth”, or even things like your employer brand with employees and candidates).