LinkedIn has become quite a juggernaut in the corporate learning market. Last time I checked the company had more than 17 million users, 14,000 corporate customers, more than 13,000 courses and was growing at high double-digit rates. And all this in only about two years.
And the company just threw down the gauntlet; it’s now announcing it has completely opened up its learning platform to external content partners. This is the company’s formal announcement that LinkedIn Learning is not just an amazing array of content, it is a corporate learning platform. The company wants to become a single place for all organizational learning content.
Let me summarize briefly. Just a few months ago, LinkedIn launched Learning Pro, a set of features that let companies publish their own content and create custom learning paths. Last month, the company announced Skills Insights, a set of tools that let you examine your company’s skills and promote courses based on known skills gaps.
Now, the company is going forward. LinkedIn now offers skills-based learning recommendations to any user through its machine learning algorithms. It is opening the platform so customers who have purchased multiple content sources can offer their employees a single place to discover and access all of their organization’s learning content. This content will not be sold by Li
nkedIn, as these are integration partnerships, not licensing partnerships. This allows LinkedIn to apply its insights to the broad range of content that enterprises are already using today.
This includes partnerships with some of the significant learning content providers in the market.
- Harvard ManageMentor: Leadership development content fueled by the latest thinking and proven practices from Harvard Business School faculty and business leaders.
- getAbstract: 18,000-plus book summaries and TED talks.
- Big Think: 500 short-form, actionable video lessons to stay ahead of business changes and stimulate agility in the workforce.
- Treehouse: An online school that’s taught more than 850,000 adults how to be software engineers and product designers.
- CreativeLive For Business: Expert-led classes on creativity, innovation, design thinking, emotional intelligence, entrepreneurship (and more).
All of this means LinkedIn is now in the learning experience platform business and to some degree the LMS business as well. Of course, the platform is not necessarily a compliance-management program for many industry applications. But for just about everyone else, it’s now an enterprise-class learning platform that can deliver training in almost every domain.
Coming in the newest release, LinkedIn is also adding collaboration and Q&A features to LinkedIn Learning courses that let learners communicate with each other and interact with the author or publisher, making it a collaborative learning platform as well.
These are significant moves. As I described in the article “LinkedIn Announces… A Lot!”, the company is now a serious end-to-end talent solutions provider. In the L&D domain, the platform can complement and even replace many existing systems. Given that the content market is now so big and so important, LinkedIn now realizes that in order to really drive value, the company has to embrace best-of-breed content experts as well.
There are many learning platforms in the market, and most have similar content relationships (Cornerstone just announced the acquisition of Grovo, moving further into the content business). But LinkedIn has one leg up: a massive amount of data.
When your employees use LinkedIn Learning, the platform knows a lot about them that your typical LMS does not understand. It has their job history, their connections and their social profile and inferred skills. This means the recommendations and learning paths they see in LinkedIn will be fairly well targeted, useful and directly relevant to their jobs and future career paths. Most LMSs barely do this at all, so this alone is a reason to take a look.
It’s time for learning professionals to think about LinkedIn differently. Yes, the company is the largest professional network. Yes, it’s a fantastic platform to find jobs and people. But now it’s a serious learning solution, and one with some pretty interesting competitive advantages.
Disclosure: Bersin provides consulting and advice to brands, including LinkedIn.