Best of the Best – Extended Enterprise or multi-tenant LMSs

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You may heard the term, “extended enterprise” and immediately thought to yourself that it does not apply to you. You may have thought it only applies to large size companies with lots of employees.

Actually it means many things which is why the term itself should be kicked to the curb with serious force.

Just because a system lists itself as an extended enterprise does not mean it comes with multiple domains (which with some vendors includes customized) nor with multiple portals or my preferable term – “multi-tenant”.

You may see an “extended enterprise” which not only refers to the company’s employees, but also their customers and channel partners. Or you may see an extended enterprise which focuses on the B2B, B2C or both.

That is the problem with the term and as such it creates quite a confusion in the marketplace.

It goes to Number 11 (Spinal Tap reference)

The problem is that there is no one size that fits all. Rather, it depends on a wide variety of factors including price (which always comes into play). Therefore, I am going to provide the following:

  • $-$$$$: Price point based on 500 users. In some cases it will be noted if it is based on a higher set of users, since there are platforms that prefer a minimum or focus on larger size businesses including associations, etc.
  • Multi-Tenant: Some people refer to it as portals and sub-portals. Although this is not proven, I believe that some of these folks refer to licorice Twizzlers as delicious. A multi-tenant is actually defined in a parent-child relationship. Whereas you have a parent (main company) and then its channel partners, etc. who are children. One channel partner/customer (which might be a company – often seen with TP) is a child. The parent can see every child including their data, but the child can only seem themselves and not any of the other children or the parent.
  • TP – No this does not refer to toilet paper or toilet papering a house who gives you crummy candy during Halloween. Rather it refers to a Training Provider, which is a firm/company that sells 3rd party courses through B2B or B2C channels. More often that not, B2B channels.
  • B2B – Business to Business
  • B2C – Business to Customer
  • CP – Channel Partner. There are some systems who target only channel partners.
  • SB – Small business
  • SMB – Small to mid size business
  • MB – Mid size business
  • M2L – Mid to large size
  • LB – Large business

Defining the employee size

You can find a lot of LMS companies who provide different information on the size of business. For me, I define company size by:

  • 500 or less employees: SB
  • 501 to 1,500: SMB
  • 1,501 to 5,000: MB
  • 5,001 to 10,000: M2L
  • 10,001 and higher: LB

For B2B, B2C – I do not define by a set of numbers.

Whom do you Love

Expertus One ($$$-$$$$)- Still the best multi-tenant platform in the market. The system works at all levels: across the global enterprise, B2B, B2C, Channel Partners, mid size, mid to large and definitely large.

Each update takes the platform up on notch on its competitors. Big wins for me include:

  • On/Off synch for mobile devices
  • Native app available in iTunes/Apple and Google (Android) – very few vendors have native apps
  • New social which offers expert network, skills training ratings (using a slick interface), built in web conferencing (their own and they also offer WebEx and GoTo Meeting), wizards on the admin side which not only saves time but is easy to use
  • Each tenant can have its own look, brand, logo, etc.

The one item that I see as needing improvement is the look and feel of the reports – but I have been told this will be in the next update (a few months from now).

If you are someone who is considering some of the bigger dogs like Cornerstone or SumTotal, I would seriously look at these guys. Personally, I think they crush the monsters of midway aka CoD et al.

eLogic Learning ($$-$$$) – Another solid performer who continues to get better and better. SMB, B2B, Channel Partners, small biz, SMB, mid size. The UI continues to improve but IMO it stilll lacks the slick interface that I so desire.

Big wins:

  • On/Off synch for mobile devices, also supports Tin Can API
  • Easy to use interface
  • Supports 3rd party APIs – actually most do, but again, if you asked “hey can I have Slideshare in my system”, they would say yes. Some systems say yes but really do not want to do it – and it is quickly recognized
  • E-commerce included
  • Nice classroom management
  • Each tenant can have its own look, brand, logo, etc.
  • Tin Can API

Besides UI tweaks, my only other real complaint is their setup fee. Just as ExpertusOne is a high. That said their pricing for users is moderately priced and I believe extremely affordable for what you get.

BizLibrary $-$$. While I find their LMS name, “Company College” a minor challenge (I think it is a disservice to the product itself) there is no mistaking the oomph of this solution and where it started out to where it is today. Small biz, SMB, mid size (will work), B2B, TP, Channel.

Big wins:

  • User interface is easy. Again, would love to see it become more slick and crisp, but hey I want every system to be that way. At least it does not look dated.
  • Video blocks – You can have video clips or videos or video teasers shown on the home page and even the course catalog – providing a new way to explore content, beyond just the typical text info that is regularly seen on systems (you can still do it with theirs too)
  • Custom tenants – each can have its own look, branding
  • Compliance

One item I wish they would improve:

  • On/Off synch. They don’t have it – and I still don’t understand why not (of course, a lot of systems don’t – what is taking so long?)

Docebo $. The platform continues to impress. The personalization, localization, multiple tenants- each with its own logo, etc., CEU tracking, themes, easy to use on the front and back end. Another shoe in for sweet. The UI is strong and the price point is very inexpensive. TP, B2B, B2C, Channel partners, small business, SMB. Although mid size will work.

Big Wins:

  • Comes with free courses and course marketplace – one click to add to system
  • App marketplace – click and quick – it is in your system
  • Did I mention the personalization – each end user can select their own language – ideal for global
  • Each tenant can have its own look, logo, branding
  • Literally a one stop shop of a system
  • Tin Can API
  • Comes with LRS (learning record store – which is still a major work in progress – the LRS premise that is, not the LMS)

One item I wish they would improve or add:

  • On/Off synch

I like you, do you like me?

Firmwater $-$$. A solid performer all around and still a nice winner in the SMB space. B2B, Channel, TP. Employee size small to mid size. You can’t go wrong with the system, but what is taking so long with a more modern UI? (as you can see this is a huge peeve of mine)

Epignosis – Talent LMS $. Very clean interface that comes with a strong set of features. But it does not come with talent management, so the name is somewhat wacky. As aforementioned, the UI is clean, but some the admin side which uses some icons, etc. – that while is simple to use, still doesn’t blow me away with coolness. Small biz, SMB, B2B.

Absorb LMS $$- Still quite strong as a multi-tenant platform. Charges a $5 per learner (one time fee) but it is still moderately priced. HTML5 UI which is very slick and easy to use. The add on Mercury module should be included (but that is my personal vibe). Once the leader of multi-tenant, but no longer. I see them more along the lines of SMB and up – including large. B2B, B2C, Channel and TP.

NetDimensions – $$-$$$$. The system as a whole is quite robust including digital signatures, online/offline synch and a very nice UI. It’s latest social just doesn’t wow me, so if that is something you are high on, then move on. B2B, Channel and maybe B2C. Mid size and up.

Infor $$$-$$$$. Another player in the space that not only fits the build of an extended enterprise but also as a multi-tenant. Ideal for large size and up, although I’m sure they will argue that they can be in the mid size and up category. I’m just not a fan of the hierarchy look for them, but they do offer on/off synch and a solid set of features. Please note that Infor owns Certpoint. Infor offers a lot of products including an ERP. My personal opinion is that Infor sees their Certpoint acquisition as a key part of their HCM.

Accord LMS – $$. From a feature standpoint this platform can do it. It’s UI still needs improvement. Small biz, SMB, mid size, B2B, Channel, TP. Service is outstanding.

I can make you smile, if just for a little while

SuccessFactors $$$-$$$$. A true extended enterprise with a nice UI. I have some concerns about how SAP will play with them (right now they are separate, but who knows).

I dislike that the platform does not automatically include at no charge a SSO between it and SAP. Sure they offer it for a fee, but heck any LMS that interfaces with SAP offers the same option for a fee. Works in the B2B, B2C, Channel side. Upper mid to large – although I suspect I will receive an e-mail from them saying otherwise.

Can I say hello?

LogicBay $$-$$$- Never heard of them? Don’t worry, I suspect you are not alone. What makes this platform so unique is that its target is more along the lines of manufacturing including logistical companies. The UI needs some major tweaks, but they are here because of their target market – especially from my perspective the logistical companies, including trucking. Mid to Large, Channel.

Bottom Line

What may mean one thing to one person does not mean the same thing to another person. That is a big issue when it comes to extended enterprise versus multi-tenant (or as some refer to it – portal/sub-portal).

It would be grand if all was equal, but not even in real life does that apply.

I wish it would.

E-Learning 24/7


  1. Craig, SharePoint LMS has the ability to have muiltiple LMS’s within the one SharePoint installation. Each organisation can have a different look, feel and administration. This feature is out of the box and can be configured in a parent child relationship or completely seperate relationship. It is priced to suit all business employee categories you mentioned from SB to LB, the largest installation is 250,000 users.

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