#10 to #1 LMSs of 2012

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Well here it is, the final countdown.

Other final countdowns:

  • Europe – great song, but really how many times can you listen to “it’s the final countdown”
  • Movie starring Kirk Douglas, Charlie Sheen – “The Final Countdown”, the navy goes back in time before Dec. 7, 1941 – great movie
  • Every television show on New Year’s eve, heck anyone in public on New Year’s eve
  • Your friends days before your big 30-40-50-60, heck even your wedding – again, is this really necessary?

#10 eLogic Learning – Essential LMS

Features include:

  • Extended enterprise – multiple children/sub-portals, each skinned/branded and each on a separate server – many EEs are on a shared server
  • Unlimited portals
  • TinCan with online/offline synch
  • Compliance management, certification management
  • Classroom mgt, event mgt., surveys/assessments, e-commerce, transcripts, ad-hoc reporting and the other standards in the industry (90/10)
  • SCORM compliant
  • Multilingual
  • Skinning/Branding
  • File repository
  • Custom domain option
  • Extensive APIs support
  • Pay for only active users
  • Integrate with Office 365 via API

The new UI is crisp, clean, modern and really outstanding. The same applies to the admin side.

Support is fantastic and what I have found is they really care about their customers, a rarity in today’s space. I’ve never heard them say, “nope, we can’t do that”. From a customer standpoint – that’s awesome.

Pricing wise – extremely affordable.

#9 Docebo

At one time a true freebie – they still offer a stripped down version, their new fee based system provides enough oomph to make anyone go “Wow”.

Features include:

  • The standards – i.e. my 90/10, whereas 90% of the features are the same in the majority of systems in the space
  • SCORM compliant
  • True personalization – one of its biggest strengths
  • Immediate language per end user, this means that each end user can select their own language and the entire system changes to that
  • Built-in help desk

What makes it different than say other systems that offer multilingual, is that all the languages are already in the system at no additional charge. Bonus: the entire system – front/back end becomes that language including all headers/tabs, etc.

Some systems that offer multiple languages do not have the capability to have the entire system change to that language, which means you will still find some “English” in certain areas – regardless of the language you choose – i.e. Latin American Spanish, Dutch, etc.

  • Around $8,500 USD for 2,000 users
  • Pay for only active users (becoming more popular in the industry)
  • Comes with courses that you can choose from at no additional charge
  • TinCan support with mobile learning, however no on/off synch

User interface is crisp, clean and modern. Easy to use.

#8 Biz Library – CompanyCollege

Don’t let the name confuse you, this is a system for the corporate space. Another system that overhauled its user interface to such an extent, that it adds a real wow factor.

Features include:

  • Video box option – rather than just having “text” listings for courses, clients can have video clips with a box so that the end user can click the video box, see the clip and then after selecting the course, go into the video course
  • 90/10 standard feature set
  • Next to each video box – ratings – left by end users, codes and due date (if applicable)
  • Mobile learning support, but no TinCan nor on/off synch
  • Alerts
  • Ability to recommend video courses based on what the end user has started/completed – very cool
  • Lists latest/newest videos, most popular, highest rated or courses by duration

Pricing is extremely affordable, basically you can get a lot for less than 10K for 1,000 users.

#7 Desire2Learn

One of the top systems for the education market. They are already in higher education and are now expanding to K-12. They are trying to add corporate, but the pricing is extremely expensive (so much so, I wouldn’t recommend it).

However, as noted above, the system is extremely strong in education.

Features include:

  • 90/10 standards
  • SCORM compliant
  • Dropbox and file locker where files can also be shared between end users – rather than just uploaded into the file repository
  • SMS (text notifications) which is strongly used today by students in higher education. In fact, recent surveys are showing that college students prefer SMS over e-mail notifications
  • Can add Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ : interesting about Linkedin – it is not that widely used by college students
  • User interface is excellent
  • Instructional design wizard
  • M-learning support, assignment grader can be offline and then re-synched online, but courses can not be online/offline

Pricing is mid tier on the education side. Corporate extremely expensive as in 100K+.

#6 SuccessFactors

Their product is more geared towards a human capital management system, especially with the BizX Suite. If this is something you are looking for – i.e. a HCM, then they are the ones to go with – over Cornerstone, Oracle-Taleo, SumTotal and alike.

The user interface has come a long way. Back in the days, the Plateau platform was ghastly awful. Not sure how SAP will eventually impact the system, but for today it stands strong.

Features include:

  • 90/10 standards
  • Jam – which is their social learning and collaboration tool
  • Pricing assistant wizard
  • BizX modules that come with the system: Compensation, Employee Central, Learning, Collaboration/Social, Performance and Goals, Recruiting, Succession/Development, Workforce Analytics, Workforce Planning
  • M-Learning – not just courses, but also their Jam tool, recruiting, org chat, ability to connect to experts; no on/off synch
  • Apps available for download: Apple store, Blackberry store, Android store

I want to be very clear on this – as a standalone LMS I would not go with them, but as a human capital management system (HCM), I would.

Pricing is high.

#5 Intuition – Rubicon

A fine system with strong features.

Features include:

  • 90/10 standards (skinning/branding is also in the 90/10)
  • Extended Enterprise option – including portals
  • SMS notifications (and yes, e-mail too but that is in the 90/10)
  • Nice user interface, has potential to be better
  • M-Learning with online/offline synch, native app, supports HTML5, gesture based design, MP4 and yes even EPUB
  • Also sells a Knowledge Management Platform, which can be added to LMS for an additional cost

Pricing is mid level to high.

#4 IMC-AG Clix Learning Suite

Talk about a system that is under the radar, the product is really quite strong. Their target markets are Europe (very strong in Germany – but that is where they are based) and Asia Pacific (strong in Australia). They have yet to focus on the U.S. which is why most folks have never heard of them.

Personally, I believe they should -but hey, that is their decision. The system can either be SaaS or hosted on your own servers. I prefer the SaaS.

This is another system whose current user interface is dated and frankly awful, but who is working on a new user interface which is really quite nice. Again, clean, crisp and modern. The launch date is unknown, but I surmise it will be live by end of Q1 or early Q2.

Features include:

  • 90/10 standard set
  • Ability to view user activity, including dates, times, and specific pages visited – i.e., full audit trail
  • File repository
  • Schedule integration with Microsoft Outlook
  • 24/7 support with phone and e-mail
  • M-Learning with on/off synch, however they charge a small fee per user (beyond the LMS)
  • Integrate with Office 365 via API
  • Data warehouse (additional cost)
  • Flexible approval process to allow multiple levels of approval
  • SSO

Pricing is mid-tier to high.

#3 Instructure – Canvas

My #1 education learning management system. What can you say, this is a phenomenal product. A couple of years ago, they were really poor, but now, extremely robust.

Features include:

  • 90/10 standard
  • Built-in video and chat
  • Facebook and SMS notifications
  • Great user interface
  • Parents are co-enrolled with their student (can view grades, upcoming assignments and due dates, missing work, teacher communication)
  • States standards tracking (K-12 edition)
  • Can leave text/audio/video feedback
  • M-Learning support – native app for iPad, no online/offline synch
  • Open API

Pricing is affordable.

#2 Blatant Media – Absorb LMS

Last year, my number one system. This year, it drops to number two, but it is still a very strong system. The user interface has always been outstanding – easy to use. On the administration side, they were one of the first platforms to use a dashboard including graphs.

I love their training academy which comes with the system and enables clients to view various videos on “how to” do XYZ in the system.

Features include:

  • E-commerce at no additional cost
  • Extended enterprise system
  • Multilingual including a translation point capability
  • HTML5 interface
  • 90/10 standard feature set
  • SSO
  • Add courses and events to Outlook or your calendar tool with automated waitlist management
  • Proctored exams
  • Add-on Mercury module ($) – news announcements, ability to add banners or videos to advertise or promote courses, new products, etc., contests/sweepstakes capability which can increase participation and completion of courses (end users receive points towards whatever you want to give them), Twitter feeds
  • Pays for active users
  • M-Learning, but no on/off synch

Pricing can go from affordable to mid tier to higher tier depending on number of users. They do charge extra for SSO and adding APIs.

#1 ExpertusOne

The system comes out of nowhere to deliver an exceptional product. The user interface is good but can be improved (they are well aware of this).

Features include:

  • Extended enterprise system – the best one out there
  • FDA validation
  • Workflow engine
  • SCORM compliant
  • 90/10 standard feature set
  • Social learning
  • Lists on the home page (you can turn this off): most popular training courses, highly rated training courses, new training courses, most active users
  • E-Commerce included at no additional fee
  • Extensive end user filter set for search
  • Uses icons to represent types of training, including documents – best of all the icons make sense
  • Select a language and the entire system changes to that language, including all tabs, admin side, etc.
  • Report design wizard
  • SQL Query Report Builder (for those who prefer this method)
  • Identifies compliance courses
  • Easy to use (user interface) on front end and back end and follows a logical process
  • SSL included at no additional fee
  • Accepts APIs
  • M-learning support, online/offline synch is supported, native app

Pricing is mid tier depending on the number of users, but they do charge high fees for items such as SSO (10K USD – one time charge) and each additional language is 5K USD. Personally, I think this is a huge mistake and the one major flaw of an otherwise exceptional product.

Here are #25 to #11 for 2012.

E-Learning 24/7


  1. Craig, Any hint as to why Digitec/KnowledgeDirect didn’t make your top 25 list? They are on your LMS review from last year. We like and have been trialing Instructure Canvas for our academic side..but need mobile, on off etc. for our Continuing Education, advanced certification courses for alumni who are all over the globe and always on the go in remote locations. Digitec has a great list of compliance training clients which is important to sales and development of our courses if we hope to have them acquired by alumni companies as well as individuals. I am beginning to believe our dream of just one LMS is impossible.. the markets are too different.

    1. I have found that the UI still needs some major improvements. Plus, feature wise, sadly they are falling into the habit of doing what everyone else is doing rather than continuing to go forth and break new ground. They do gamification on their own along with mobile apps, but strangely haven’t really utilized its power in their own product.

      The bottom line is that while they are very nice folks and really some very smart minds there, the product just no longer breaks into the top 25, especially with the improvements, enhancements and new players rumbling into the space.

      As for your system you are seeking – I would look to one that is on the commercial side and not education side. There are plenty who offer CEs, certificates and having the compliance training courses whether it already is in the system or having 3rd party added – is simple enough. I had a client similar to you and found them the right system including the mobile and on/off synch. So, don’t despair!!

  2. Hi Craig,

    I work with an organization that has been looking for the right LMS for a little while now, and there is no shortage of options. So I have a couple of questions.

    Why did Topyx not crack the list? In our hunt this was a system that was on our shortlist, I’m curious why it didn’t make the Top 25.

    I was also hoping you could provide an LMS suggestion. Our organization is looking for a system that allows for dynamic assessments (not just quiz or short answer) that incorporates various media, SCORM compliance, easy grading system and multi language capabilities built in. The catch is, our number of users is somewhat of an unknown, so it is difficult to lock into a set price point of 200 to 400 users right off the bat. Ideally a system that grows as we grow and has a clear upfront set up cost structure.

    Thanks for this list, I will be looking into all of these.

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