In the world of learning and development (L&D), technological innovation is exploding at breakneck speed. New platforms, tools and buzzwords sprout up daily, promising to revolutionize learning experiences and unlock the full potential of employees. Each new technology paints a captivating picture, boasting artificial intelligence (AI)-powered analytics, gamified learning modules and virtual reality (VR)-driven immersion. Despite these promises, the reality is that not all learning technologies are created equal. Many flashy platforms and tools promise the moon, making it difficult to decipher which will add value and deliver upon expected results.

Webinars, demos, conference presentations and industry reports are bombarding L&D teams. Parsing through the new products can be overwhelming, confusing and frustrating. Now is the time to become empowered to navigate through the clutter of learning technology, identify the solutions that add real value and make informed decisions.

Unraveling the L&D Tech Alphabet Soup

Overcoming the sheer volume of options is the first hurdle. Learning technology is a $360 billion market and growing quickly. To begin to cut through the trends, let’s take a look at some of the available tech, including definitions and sample use cases:


Learning experience platforms (LXPs) move beyond traditional learning management systems (LMSs), focusing on a learner-centric approach by aggregating and curating diverse content from various internal and external sources, leveraging AI to recommend personalized interactive learning pathways based on individual goals, interests, and past activities, and enabling social learning at scale.

Sample use case:

    • Problem statement: New hire engagement is low due to lengthy and inconsistent onboarding.
    • Solution: Streamline onboarding by creating a personalized interactive learning journey in an LXP to quickly acclimate new employees to company culture, roles and essential skills.

Talent marketplaces facilitate efficient internal matching of talent and opportunities through AI-powered algorithms and robust skills engines, serving as a centralized hub for employees to discover various internal career paths, gigs, projects, mentors and learning opportunities.

Sample use case:

    • Problem statement: Employee attrition rates peak at three years of tenure with exit interviews citing lack of internal opportunity.
    • Solution: Increase internal mobility by matching employees to internal opportunities (roles, gigs, projects or mentors) that align with individual skills and aspirations, dynamically driven through a talent marketplace.


AI-powered authoring tools enable the quick design and development of courses and videos without extensive coding knowledge. Authoring tools use AI to quickly generate translations of courses and content into a variety of languages, generate text-to-speech using authentic sounds and tones, create characters and avatars based on preferences defined in prompts and produce courses and videos based on AI-powered writing assistants.

Sample use case:

    • Problem statement: A global company with a small L&D team can no longer meet the growing demand of internal requests for custom course design and development.
    • Solution: Implement rapid authoring tools to empower employees to create content quickly and effectively, with training on the tools and quality oversight from the L&D team.

Digital adoption platforms (DAPs) serve as a bridge between an application interface and the user, providing just-in-time and in-app guidance, support and resources to ensure successful adoption and engagement.

Sample use case:

    • Problem statement: The sales department implemented a new and complex customer relationship management (CRM) platform with the need to ramp up sales representatives quickly.
    • Solution: Increase user adoption and ramp-up time by creating interactive step-by-step guides, dynamic pop-ups with just-in-time tips and a searchable knowledge base of articles, videos and FAQs using a DAP.

Virtual reality (VR) creates immersive learning experiences in virtual environments, typically through a headset, simulating real-world scenarios. (Used in metaverse-based learning environments.)

Sample use case:

    • Problem statement: Satisfaction scores of customer service agents decreased significantly over the past nine months leading to a reduction in customer return rates.
    • Solution: Increase emotional intelligence and conflict resolution (in a low-risk environment) by immersing the customer service agents in the emotional experiences of customers, engaging in virtual conversations, de-escalation techniques and self-reflection, and providing real-time feedback through VR-enabled scenarios.

Augmented reality (AR) overlays digital information and objects onto the real world seen through a device like a phone or AR glasses.

Sample use case:

    • Problem statement: Field technicians are experiencing increased difficulties troubleshooting complex equipment issues, leading to a reduction in productivity.
    • Solution: Increase their ability to explore functionalities, identify potential issues and manipulate models quickly by overlaying equipment instructions, machine schematics, troubleshooting guides and real-time performance data on top of the equipment through AR.

Chatbots can simulate conversations to answer learner questions, provide personalized feedback, offer adaptive recommendations, guide learners through training materials and improve engagement in the learning process.

Sample use case:

    • Problem statement: New managers are struggling to have difficult conversations with low-performing employees, impacting overall productivity and team morale.
    • Solution: Increase the ability of new managers to develop and practice active listening, empathy, assertiveness and conflict resolution skills in an interactive and low-risk environment through the implementation of a virtual AI coach using predefined scenarios and feedback prompts.

Aligning the Technology to the Need

Before adopting any new technology, L&D leaders need a shift in perspective. Instead of pursuing the latest trends and hype, focus on identifying the specific gaps, needs and goals aligned with the company-wide learning strategy to find the technology that addresses those needs most effectively.

Timing is everything. Launching a new learning tool or system before the organization is ready to adopt it will result in lower-than-expected results. Manage the change curve by timing the selection of the new learning technology in alignment with the current stage of learning maturity and organizational readiness. A higher level of L&D maturity signals a potential ability to strategically integrate learning technology to empower employee development more easily than lower levels of maturity that are focused on episodic and structured learning events.

Select the Best Learning Technology: Sorting Hype From Substance

After identifying the need, goals and timing, research is the next step. Conduct thorough research, read reviews, compare features and speak to actual users. Ensure the technology addresses the defined need, is user-friendly for both learners and administrators, integrates seamlessly with existing systems and data sources, is scalable and future-focused and has the potential to produce a strong return on investment. Keep in mind that the most costly or popular solution isn’t always the best.

    • Research and evaluate technology options: Don’t rely solely on vendor-provided information. Conduct thorough research, compare different platforms and consult independent reviews. Look for objective data on features, functionalities, implementation costs and support options. Industry reports, research papers and user forums can offer valuable insights to help avoid common pitfalls.
    • Prioritize value over features: Feature checklists can be enticing, but features don’t equal value. Focus on solutions that offer a clear connection between features and the defined goals identified in the needs assessment. Request data and case studies: Ask vendors for evidence of their technology’s impact on similar organizations.
    • Focus on the user experience: Make learning effortless, the best learning technology is useless if it’s clunky, confusing or unintuitive. Look for technology with user-friendly interfaces, intuitive navigation and easy-to-access content. Choose technology that seamlessly integrates into the employee workflows and doesn’t add complexity.
    • Consider scalability and integration: Think beyond immediate needs and choose a technology that can grow with the organization and seamlessly integrate with existing talent platforms and learning systems and tools. Avoid siloed solutions that create data islands and impede data-driven decision making.

Beyond Implementation: Charting a Course for Long-Term Success

Technology acquisition is just the first step. To ensure lasting value, focus on successful implementation and long-term utilization through these key considerations:

    • Change management: Prepare learners and stakeholders for the new technology through proper training and communication. Address concerns early on and enable early adopters and champions to foster a culture of adoption.
    • Data utilization: Leverage data generated through the platform to measure learning outcomes, identify trends and make data-driven decisions about content, program effectiveness and broader organizational impact.
    • Continuous improvement: Regularly evaluate the effectiveness of learning technology solutions. Don’t be afraid to adapt the solutions, try new technologies and continuously seek improvements based on data and feedback. Technology is constantly evolving, so embrace a growth mindset and be open to experimentation.

Final Word

Cutting through the learning technology clutter and finding the value-added technology solution requires a strategic approach. Focus on clear requirements, conduct thorough research, prioritize value over features, and embrace a data-driven, human-centered approach. By investing time and effort in cutting through the clutter, L&D professionals can ensure that technology investments truly add value and pave the way for a future of learning that is effective, engaging and delivers measurable results.