Is today’s rapid consolidation of L&D vendors good for HR?

Two recent acquisitions by leading learning and development companies show how quickly the crowded L&D space is consolidating post-pandemic.

Cornerstone announced a $200 million deal to buy L&D and HCM provider SumTotal Systems from parent company Skillsoft earlier this month, and Degreed bought talent academy company Learn In for an undisclosed amount. last week.

The two purchases are signs of a wave of consolidation underway in the crowded training and development market and show no signs of slowing down, says Rebecca Wettemansenior analyst for the market research firm Valoir and a HRE Top 100 HR Tech Influencers. Wettemann will speak at a closing panel of the Women in HR Tech Summit at the HR Technology 2022 conference later this year. The panel, titled “Is your digital transformation connecting and engaging the entire workforce?also features HR managers from Corvesta, IMI and Kimberly-Clark. Register here for the September 13-16 event at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.

“We’ll see more consolidation in this space as well as more investment in the coaching and ‘pull’ learning space,” she says, referring to the practice of employees choosing the skills they want to learn. , as opposed to employers who impose certain educational requirements. work.



That he is called improvementemployee development or training and development, employee training is one of the fastest growing spaces in HR technology as employers scramble to retain and grow the careers of valuable talent.

The wave of partnerships with training and development providers can limit the choices of HR managers who select their employees.

For instance, Cornerstone’s acquisition of SumTotal aims “to provide a differentiated and expanded portfolio of learning, talent and people growth solutions with broader vertical expertise, greater financial resources and a shared vision for the future of the work,” according to a press release.

If you are a SumTotal customer, this is probably good news since you now have a specialist technology vendor as your supplier,” writes global analyst Josh Bersinwho will discuss what’s new in the HR technology market during his keynote address at the HR Technology Conference.

“For people looking for new learning technologies, this is more or less a non-event. With the exception that Cornerstone, as a company, is increasingly becoming a provider of legacy technologies,” continues Bersin. “And it allows Skillsoft (the former owner of SumTotal) to invest heavily in Percipio, its world-class learning platform.”

That said, fewer solutions in the training and development market could lengthen the CHRO selection process, warns Dani Johnson, co-founder and principal analyst at RedThread Research.

“While there may be fewer solutions, it’s a more complex purchase now. Instead of looking for, say, talent marketplace software, you’re looking for this functionality as part of a larger purchase,” she says. “That often means more people need to join and it won’t exactly meet everyone’s needs.”

She adds: “I wouldn’t bet on the shortening of the purchase cycle.” Johnson will dive deeper into the subject during his HR Tech mega-session titled “Learning Technology Market: Prepare for Disruption.”



This isn’t the end of the Cornerstone shopping spree. It acquired EdCast in March for an undisclosed sum and itself has a valuation of around $1 billion after being acquired by private equity firm Clearlake for $5.2 billion last year. Cornerstone has over 75 million users who work for over 6,000 organizations.

“In terms of our longer-term acquisition strategy, Cornerstone is committed to growing and innovating in ways that benefit our customers, through organic and inorganic growth. We will continue to invest in our broader portfolio and enhanced capabilities to ensure that our customers continuously receive increased value from their investment with us,” said Himanshu Palsule, CEO of Cornerstone, in a on-site maintenance.

These consolidations could spur improvements to learning management systems, most of which, according to Wettemann, “stink.”

“It’s mostly old technology focused on old push training models where HR makes sure they can tick the boxes when it comes to providing training,” she says. “I’ve never heard an HR or training manager say, ‘I love my LMS.’ “

Perhaps this is why Wettemann noticed the “inertia and resistance” of employers to upgrading their current training content systems, which were expensive to develop.

“This [inertia] means a great source of recurring revenue for acquirers like Cornerstone,” she says.

Wettemann believes the future of learning lies in two areas:

  1. So-called “attraction models”, where employees can find the training they need and want, and
  2. Micro-learning, where workers can learn in the moment while working.

“Also, technology that provides mentoring and coaching at scale” will thrive, she says, adding that “employees think it’s the best way to learn on the job.”


To learn more about employee development and training and its impact on the employee experience, join Human Resources Manager® to 2022 HR Technology Conference and Expo September 13-16 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. Register here.

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