Carrots, not sticks
Most Learning Management Systems (LMSs) are implemented in environments where the learners are compelled to use the system and take the training offered (whether classroom or online, and whether they like it or not!). However, not all training is mandated. In many situations, the training is competing with other calls on the learners time; maybe even training from other (competing?) companies.
An example of this could be sales staff in a retail chain where training resources are offered by the various brands whose products are offered in the store. These brands know a sure route to higher sales is through increasing the sales staffs knowledge of their products, preferably beyond the sales teams knowledge of the competing brands. Through knowledge comes confidence and the ability to better represent those products to the customer. But the sales teams just dont have the time to take all the training on offer and have to choose what training to take. This is an elective audience, rather than the more conventional mandated audience most LMSs are designed to service.
This places a new onus on the Learning Management System and the learning content. It must be fun and actively encourage the learners to choose to spend their time learning. A traditional corporate LMS that screams "homework time!" is unlikely to attract busy people, who have myriad alternative ways to use their time. However, an LMS that looks more like a dynamic, compelling, interactive website, is.
Absorb SmartLab, for example, is designed for just such an elective audience. With competitions, scrolling latest-news panels, videos on the login page and so much more, all in a highly configurable environment, it supports brand projection at a much deeper level than the typical colour scheme and a logo branding of so many legacy LMSs.
The short history of the LMS has seen a number of extensions from its traditional role; HR functionality and social functionality being perhaps the two main forays from its core capabilities. But both of these developments were essentially defensive moves by the LMS vendors to counter perceived threats to their territory. And neither added much to the core learning experience. The emergence of systems that address elective audiences is the first true innovation in the LMS industry.