5 Trends to Watch 4 n 2011

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It is that time of year when everyone is coming out with there trends to watch in 2011, and with that I jump on the bandwagon.

No particular order

1.  Lite LMS

They are here and growing. Numbers will continue and I see a real jump in percentile of these types of systems. They are similar to what you see in your standard LMS, course content, learning paths, reporting – but it is not as robust (which is fine for some end users). Plus, the key factor for these types of systems – is storage. That is your hint it is a Lite LMS. They state it in their pricing. You get X amount of mb or more likely gb per month for a set fee. But there is always a twist and many people fail to see it the first time.

  • They love to show the amount of space in huge font and what it means (x number of courses/content, graphics, files, audio, video, etc.)
  • While they clearly state the number of end users, many surfers tend to be driven to the GB size, thus while it appears to be a great deal – and it can be, other times it is not such a great deal
  • One vendor with 750 users, priced out at nearly 24K a year; another close to 11.5K – thus depends on users is a factor

These systems are ideal for someone who wants a basic system, with some features but does not seek a robust system (which you can find in the price range in 12-25K SAAS based btw).  So, why the growth?

Basic systems – people are being overwhelmed with systems that shove as much as they can into their product and overcharge for it. These systems see the benefit of going month to month, although in reality, most people do not leave after a month, but it is all in the spin.

I see double digit growth in Lite LMSs in 2011. If you are an e-learning vendor exploring the SBM do not take them lightly, a few are slowly entering my 2nd trend

2. Extended Enterprise/Channel Product/Distributors Market

Hot. These are your standard LMSs, albeit some Lite LMSs see real value – okay $$ in this space.  LMS vendors are targeting companies who have distributors/wholesalers/resellers/sales agents/etc. their system. They create a multi-tenet product, with e-commerce capabilities, some of which shopping carts already built in; skinned to look like the distributor/wholesaler, etc., and not the main company, offers the same features as the top system, which can turn on/off features too.

Global power. Some unique spins I’ve seen and will grow: PayPal Pro integration, VAT, salesforce integration (addl license required to turn it on), Authorize.net, advertising within the systems (by main company) & products sold.  When you add the ability to include APIs (which offer even greater capabilities and features with e-comm and shopping), the sky is the limit.  Would I jump into this space, if I felt my LMS had the features to succeed? 100% yes. It can be that successful, but you must know the right verticals to hit.

3. Marketplaces & Exchanges by LMS/Learning Portal Vendors

I see 10-12% growth in this space. Considering only a couple of vendors are in it right now, that might surprise you, but with so many vendors out there and everyone looking for a way to generate extra cash, including your own customers, this is going to be a real market.  Two approaches, which work today, but only one I see long term – past 2011, that I see as a real major impact

  • Customers of the LMS vendor can sell their courses to other customers who are using the same LMS vendor – the LMS vendor receives either a small percentile or minimum $ amount per course – a marketplace exists;  LMS may or may not be robust does not matter, the only key – you must have the same system or platform as the other customer you are selling to
  • Any company/firm/org/association/etc. can sell their courses to anyone else, regardless of platform – you are not limited to only buying and selling courses tied to your LMS vendor, that is eliminated. The marketplace provider receives a small percentile or $ per course.

In the end, who is going to win out in this battle of approaches? Long term (and I know this is supposed to be trends to watch in 2011) – anyone can sell courses to anyone else, regardless of platform – LMS vendor. provider, etc. – won’t happen in 2011 mind you, but within 3 years I believe it will.

4. LMSs focusing more on the end user experience

In the last decade we have seen the evolution of many systems go from totally unfriendly systems as they relate to usability to the end user and administrator to mod heavy (add-ons) to improved UI and logical and friendly admin back ends.  This will continue, but with two new forms tied.

Social Learning and M-Learning.  Systems will see value by creating an experience for end users to utilize the system more than before, to truly create a collaborative environment with engaging communication (voting, comments), real time uploading and downloading of video – video sharing, lists, ranking, and new features using social media that has never been done before – all with an approach that is user driven – friendly and easy to understand.

M-Learning follows suit.

Systems will become optimized to work on the iPad and tablets in general, regardless of OS (RIM, Windows7, Symbian, Android).  On the administration side, reporting, data, movability with be easy – quick and without complication.

Widget capabilities will continue to grow, and API integration expand – significantly, across all sizes of LMS vendors.

The trend is already appearing with more systems adapting to this change, and shows every sign of significant growth, especially with APIs & social learning.

5. HTML5 &  Rapid Content Authoring Tools

With the exception of some custom courseware shops, Dreamweaver and you need the HTML5 expansion pack or perhaps a few open source content authoring tools – and you would have to create the code, no other RCAT offers the capability to build courses in 100% HTML5.

However, with the continued explosion of tablets which will offer Flash & HTML5, the market dedicates that HTML5 is necessary. The iPad2 is going to be released in 2011 and accepts HTMl5, iPad accepts only HTML5. A recent research study found that small businesses with more than 100 employees are more likely to purchase iPads than notebooks, and are more likely to re-purchase more tablets for their employees.

M-Learning is not going away.

Even if you still see smartphones as the future of e-learning and some angle of course capability, rumors persist that down the road they will offer the capability of HTML5, besides their continued use of Flash.

I see RCATs adapting the ability to incorporate some type of component or feature of HTML5 within their product.

Bonus Trend

Hey its the holidays:

LMS Market

With more than 300+ paid vendors, there will be consolidation and reduction.  Vendors will continue to explore and enter more niche markets. More vendors will add or move more into the TM market, although they will still sell their system as a “LMS”.


  • Acquisition by larger vendors in the market, not necessarily the Big Dogs
  • Acquisition by vendors in other markets and not in the e-learning sector


  • Disbanding all together
  • Moving into the TM market (or if you prefer to call it performance management/knowledge management)
  • Changing their product line into some other type of product line not related to LMSs or e-learning

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  1. As always great stuff!

    With Social Learning, learning moves beyond a mandatory experience to an experience that engages learners. Learning becomes an experience people seek out because it enables them to achieve their work objectives and accelerate their aspirations. This is compatible with the mobile and lightweight LMS trends you forecast.

    So what about 2012?

    David Koehn
    Director of Product Strategy
    Saba People Learning
    t: @davidkoehn
    in: linkedin.com/in/davidkoehn
    yt: youtube.com/sabasociallearning

  2. Interesting read…some good info here. So outside of the HTML5 realm, do you have any opinion of rapid authoring tools such as Smart Builder, Atlantic Link, Lectora, etc…do you see these as forward thinking or are they already becoming antiquity?

    Damien Garber
    Vice President of Marketing
    LandMark ASP Solutions

    1. The RCAT market as a whole is far from over. It is going to get bigger. Not because as a whole – they are amazing, but rather they fulfill a function, that is needed in the marketplace.
      Keys for future success in 2011 and beyond that I see – long term – more SAAS (rather than desktop), enabling code to be given to people creating the courses (believe it or not, not everyone is creating them for their own employer, some actually are hired to create them for someone else – a concept that seems to be forgotten with RCAT vendors), offer more advanced features – for advanced technical users, so your options are for beginners, intermediate and you have advanced functionality – real robust; you are SAAS based; and allow who ever is creating the course to have the code at the end. The irony here is that besides the open source vendors – such as CourseLab who is free; Rapid Intake’s Unison (a paid product) enables people who create courses in their SAAS product, to have the flash code, and they do not have to build courses again in their product. It is a smart move. Especially with open source solutions out there.

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