This year, Training Industry, Inc. celebrated its 15th anniversary. This year, and especially at the end of the year, we’ve been looking back over the years and reflecting on what’s changed in the industry and where we’re going next. For our predictions on 2021, you can check out our trends report in the November/December issue of Training Industry Magazine. To hear our president, Ken Taylor, reflect on what he’s seen at the helm of Training Industry over 15 years, you can listen to the latest episode of “The Business of Learning,” our podcast. Here, we are looking at the market and how it’s changed over the last 15 years.

Training Industry has been tracking market trends and changes for the entire time we’ve been in existence through our market research. This research results in our Top 20 and Watch List Awards, as well as our market segment reports. It also provides an interesting lens through which to examine the way the market has grown and changed over the last decade and a half.

Gamification: No Longer a Solo Offering

Gamification is the application of game mechanics and elements to training. It has become more popular as technology advancements make game-based learning more innovative and engaging. Perhaps counterintuitively, then, we ended our Top 20 Gamification Companies List in 2019.

Why did we make this decision? It’s not because there aren’t plenty of training providers offering great gamification services. Rather, it’s because they are doing so as one of many services. Gamification is now so popular that more companies are offering it, making no longer a unique attribute for a company.

Most content development companies incorporate gamification into their offerings, so gamification is included as of one of many considerations we make when selecting our Top 20 Custom Content Development Companies.

Technological Advancement: The New Experiential Learning List

We will include the gaming companies that offer unique services in augmented and/or virtual reality (AR/VR), simulations, and serious games, along with companies using these technologies in other learning applications, in our new Top 20 Experiential Learning Technologies List in 2021.

We’ve been monitoring the experiential learning segment of the market with interest over the last 15 years, as the term “experiential learning” expanded from literal in-person experiences to also include virtual experiences. Because of the growing number of companies specializing in this area, we decided it warrants a Top 20 List to help buyers navigate this new segment of the market.

List Enhancements: Segment Additions

Some lists have been in place for years but have been enhanced as their corresponding market segments have changed. For example, next year, our Top 20 Health and Safety Training Companies List will be called the Top 20 Employee Health, Safety and Wellness Companies List. This change reflects the growing importance organizations and training providers alike are placing on employees’ physical and mental well-being, which was a particular concern in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Similarly, next year, our Top 20 Sales Training Companies List will be renamed the Top 20 Sales Training and Enablement Companies List. Again, this change reflects market changes. We’re seeing many organizations looking at sales training as part of their holistic approach to sales that includes training but also coaching, content, and other processes and tools that help salespeople — an ecosystem of support known as sales enablement.

A list we debuted this year is the Top 20 Learning Experience Platform List — again a response to market changes. Over the last several years, we’ve noted a rise in learning experience platforms (LXPs), the latest evolution of learning technologies, which focus on enhancing the usability and efficiency of the learning experience so that learners can seamlessly interact with multiple types of learning content and systems in one platform. Previously, some of these companies were included in our Top 20 Training Delivery Companies List, but due to the growing popularity of LXPs, we made them a unique list in 2020.

The Longstanding Market Giants

Finally, there are some lists that we’ve released almost since Training Industry was founded. These lists may have changed in terms of which companies are included or what capabilities those companies provide, but their importance in the market has not changed.

These lists include the ones focused on leadership training, outsourcing, content development (now called custom content development) and information technology (IT) training. These lists reflect segments of the market that are large and longstanding; in fact, the leadership training market is one of the largest and fastest-growing segments in the training industry. We continue to see innovations in the products and services these companies offer, but the need for leadership development, managed learning services, custom training content and IT training will never go away.

The Future of the Industry

This year taught us that no one can predict the future with any real certainty. However, we can anticipate that 2021 will bring continued change, both in business and in life. And, we can expect that the training market will continue to adapt in response to global events and business trends. As it does, Training Industry will continue to track these changes and report to you.