Innovation around e-learning technology has exploded over the last several years, and for good reason. There is a unilateral need to stay current, relevant and competitive within organizations and their industries. Learning is no longer contained to people just joining an organization or looking to climb the ladder. The need for ongoing learning exists in every corner of an organization. Keeping up with technologies, business innovation, product development and compliance standards are all ongoing issues.

Naturally, solution providers are trying to stay in front of this wave through innovation and the development of proprietary learning tools. Whether it is enhanced tracking abilities like xAPI technology, virtual reality (VR) training or even wearable devices with downloadable feedback, the next generation of technology is here. To help you sort through all the options, here are five must-have e-learning tools for any learning management system (LMS) to meet the demands of 21st-century e-learning.

1. Robust Analytics and Reporting

Though the concept of reporting on learning is as old as learning itself, great strides have been made in learning analytics capabilities. It’s no longer enough to know relatively where your organization lies in its journey toward training goals; now, it’s critical to have up-to-the-minute data, presented in an easily digestible form.

From at-a-glance graphs and charts to illustrate your point quickly to customizable reports that drill down to crucial data, the industry has raised the bar. These advancements have led to a more efficient way of presenting an organization’s learning progress. Learning leaders are empowered when given the ability to derive actionable intelligence from robust reporting within an LMS.

2. Automatic Certification Tracking for Recurring Training

The elephant in the room regarding training is often the potential for incidents or, worse yet, lawsuits. Most often, inconsistencies around safety and compliance training are viewed as liabilities. Automatic reminders for certification renewals and better tracking for recurring training not only saves time but can also help to prevent an incident and ultimately save money. For example, LMS administrators at a fulfillment center can implement auto-reminders for employees and supervisors to prevent a lapse in a forklift operator’s annual certification.

3. Automated Onboarding and Career Pathing

Every organization has its own version of onboarding. No matter the length or complexity, needless redundancy of administrative tasks is a thing of the past. Automating the steps, courses and evaluations for new employees enables human resources (HR) staff to be more strategic than tactical.

The same is true for employees looking to change roles. By creating automation rules in a learning platform, an administrator can build out learning tracks to guide employees into new roles. These tracks can take the shape of necessary and recommended learning objects that outline career paths within the organization.

4. Embracing Instructor-led Training

For years, e-learning and traditional instructor-led training (ILT) have lived parallel lives for learning leaders unsure of how to intermingle their data. Analytics for learning activities that don’t include classroom training only tells half the story. Also vital is reporting that goes beyond simple attendance records and records results from assessments or exams.

A blended approach also broadens the options for learners to select the modality of their training. It serves both remote workers and on-site workers, as well as learners who are more successful learning in an individual setting than in a group environment. The ability of a learning platform to incorporate this type of blended learning is essential to better understand how learning occurs across the organization.

5. Integrations: Working Smarter, Together

Learning doesn’t exist in a vacuum at an organizational level. The digital transformation is tapping the potential of nearly every technology to help employees gain efficiencies. Naturally, the connection between learning and development platforms and other software as a service (SaaS) products will only become stronger as technology advances.

By using software integrations, HR and learning and development (L&D) leaders can leverage the power of an LMS solution to sync with human capital management (HCM) systems and other software databases. This relationship model heightens the value of the learning solution by constantly leveraging up-to-date information.

Must-haves Versus This Year’s Model

The e-learning marketplace is crowded with solution providers looking to create an edge with new technology. What makes a tool “essential” is the widespread adoption of its use and the results it delivers. Good tools are indispensable in a rapidly changing industry. Many of these new tools are helping to solve the learning issues of the 21st century.

While this article shares five of the most valuable capabilities that every LMS should have in its tool kit, the list continues to grow. As we continue to see new trends, always keep in mind that the primary duty of any learning platform is that it provides real results not only for the learner but for the organization as a whole.