Remember the days in school when you heard those dreadful words, “You have to write a report”, and at that moment your heart dropped ten beats, but you thought okay, I can do it..and then, it came, “A minimum of ten pages”, and when you awoke in the nurse’s office you knew that the fun had only begun.
When you talk reports, the young ones (hey, look I’m talking like my grandfather) think the net can solve everything, but back in our day, we went to that scary building called the Library. Worse, we had to use microfiche and that scrolling device which zipped through the slides, just fast enough that you missed it. Then you had to go back and find it.
Next that crummy zoom and lastly, the dime charge to get your lameo copy. I’m sure folks in the 50 and above crowd will have a different story and the plus 70 crowd well tell you about the days when everything was a nickel.
The magical report
The day finally came when I decided that yes, I would write a report, but not your typical report that you tend to find on various sites that offer/sell “reports”. I knew right away that I wanted to do it in a different manner and style, PLUS I wanted to provide information immediately – useful, relevant with a modern twist to it.
It was clear from the beginning what content would be contained in the report:
- Latest trends and forecasts – written for the vendor and consumer – enough for everyone
- Global perspective – I am tired of reading reports that are heavy US focused or heavy (one specific country) specific – we live in a global village, especially here in the e-learning world, so why focus on one area/region?
- LMS Rankings – I went right away for the top 50 and then went with my first twist – 44 (more on that in one sec)
- Mini Profiles – LMSs in the report would have a mini profile with information that if I was to buy it, I would want to know (a few seconds from now)
- Product Reviews – Not just for the top ten but for all of them (44). The style would be similar to the blog, pluses/minuses, 100% independent, no fluff, tell it like it is
- Text out, Visual in — With the exception of the two page Executive Summary, the entire report uses a visualization style – if you like reading lots of text, I’m sure there are plenty of reports out there that will work for you
- Going with other analytical approaches – Instead of the standard ones you often see in LMS or e-learning reports, I went with a couple of new ones, including Porter’s Five Forces Competitive Analysis (included in the sample) – YES, you get a sample..
I just finished reading a report on using my subliminal techniques (not really, but go with it) — You are thirsty. You are super thirsty..
You’ve just read about 44 – no you did, the number 44 – you read it. It didn’t say or explain anything, but you did read it. Anyway, as I stated above this is a different type of report, with a different approach and style. As such, I figured why have list all 50 profiles and all 50 product reviews?
So, I went with 44. 44 profiles and 44 product reviews. After all, there is no handbook or guide book that says you have X in your rankings, so you must have X profiles and product reviews. There is not such a book – I checked. At my local bookmobile.
Listen err read, this report is extensive, but I had to include product reviews, because people love reviews (or most of us do). But, you can’t write a four page product review for each vendor (44). So, I decided to go with a one pager – with a few pluses and if applicable, a few minuses. I have included one of the mini reviews in the Sample Report.
Each mini review also includes:
- Vendor’s contact email for sales (some vendors did not provide it, so if it is blank – that is why)
- Vendor’s web site
- Vendor’s LMS demo (You click the link and whalla it goes right to the LMS video demo
As listed earlier, the report contains profiles for the top 44. I should state that the mini product reviews are ranked, so #1 is first all the way to #44. Profiles are alphabetical in order. Oh, you get to see one page of a profile in my sample report, provided to you in this post.
Profiles to me, should contain more than just the vendor’s name and the typical fare one tends to see in other reports.
Each Profile contains
- Name including web site and contact phone number
- Social media – Click and go right to their social media sites (each is identified by their respective icon)
- Number of clients
- Pricing – How do they define their pricing, what is included in their setup fees (i.e. what do you get for paying XXX), are there any additional costs for e-commerce, SSO, HTTPS://, etc., and do they offer discounts for government, education, non-profit?
- Implementation process, international clients (if yes, where are they located), roadmap for 2014, and for SaaS how often do they update and what is their downtime
- Four features and whether or not they had it and if yes, what is included – Gamification, Mobile. If they had social what is included in that and if they have or offer talent management – what is included in that. Please note that including “Talent” does not mean that I think all systems should have “talent”, because I don’t. But there are folks who seek or want TM in their LMS..so..
- Support/Training – How many support agents do they have and what languages are available (i.e. support is available in English, French, etc.)
- Where is the vendor’s support located and whether or not the vendor offers 24/7/365 support
- What is included in their support and is training included (if yes, what comes with that)
I have stated a couple of times that I wanted this to be a different type of report. Well, name another state of the industry report to include LMS video demos? Yep, you read it right – LMS video demos.
Each vendor who wanted to know a LMS video demo (it was optional) had to agree not to put any type of sales pitch in their video, but at the end of the video could include contact information. The video had to show their product – how much was up to them – but again, no sales pitch.
28 vendors went ahead and created a video demo. To view all the demos – VISIT LMS DEMOS.
The vendors whose video demo is viewable are
- Accessplanit, Accord, Administrate, Aduro, aNewsSpring, Biz Library, Blackboard, Blue Volt, Docebo, Edvance 360, eLogic Learning, Emtrain, Ethos CE, ExpertusOne, Growth Engineering, IMC Learning Suite, Inquisiq R3, Instructure, iSpring Online, LearnUpon, Meridian, Panopto, Percolate, ShareKnowledge, WBT Systems – TopClass 9.4, TOPYX, Totara, Unicorn Training, Upside Learning
Rankings and Criteria
- 100% Independent. There is no quid pro quo, no play for pay, no secret agenda nor “he hates blah blah so that is why they got that ranking” garbage
- There was no application process, no vendor submitted an application or any such thing stuff like that
- Whether a vendor won an award from some other organization, played no role. I’m happy for them, but that is it.
Everyone has different criteria and uses different analysis techniques. If you want to have a world where everyone does the exact same thing, then move to RobotLand – which I believe is somewhere in Antarctica – right next to Atlantis
A review of 582 systems was conducted. From that list, based on various factors and analysis, a final grouping of 100 vendors were identified.
Additional analysis was conducted which included points for various capabilities, features, design, vertical reach, support/service, future thinking approach and processes.
Each section was weighted and points tallied.
All features, capabilities and service are important, but some components are crucial in today’s LMS market
- User Interface -Modern and Crisp –(100/100)
- Support and Service
- Features in general –Certain features are expected in any LMS
- Speed of innovation
- Latest “Hot” features
- Adoptability and Adaptability
- Consumer Feedback – You can learn a lot by attending trade shows and talking to people, Linkedin groups, People who come up and talk to you after speaking or seeing you walking around the show floor (yes it does happen), via Twitter and other social media and e-mail
- Vertical Reach –Vendors who focus on specific verticals (max. of four, ideally three), anything more and it screams “we can’t decide what is more important”
- Home dashboards –Learner/Admin, i.e. the home/main page
- Social or Engagement –Are you doing something unique or what every one else is doing?
- What’s included in the system
Rankings – Top Ten
While I can’t provide the entire list (they are in the report) here are the top ten. The first four include a benefit statement. To read even more in-depth info including mini review and profiles, you will need to purchase the report.
- ExpertusOne (#1) – Three times a winner. The little details are an added bonus – like, geolocation within their native app – very cool
- Growth Engineering (#2) – 2013 turned out to be the year of gamification, and this LMS is 100% pure gamification wrapped up in a robust LMS
- Blackboard (#3) – Tops out as the best LMS for education, a slick UI is the key. As for business, not in the top twenty – but education – sweet.
- Instructure (#4) – Another education focused system, very close to Blackboard, love the mega apps
- eLogic Learning (#5)
- IMC Learning Suite (#6)
- Docebo (#7)
- Biz Library (#8)
- Meridian (#9)
- CM Group Ltd (#10)
Well, there you go and insider’s peek at my State of the LMS Industry Report, which by the way now includes a free 45 minute analyst phone call.
I respect that.
And so do your friends.
They just now told you