I admit I love lists. I’m one of those people who sees a book of lists about anything and then I must have it. I must read it. I just like lists. It seems to me that there are others who also love lists.
After all there is a social media site dedicated to people making their own lists and then sharing those lists with other people.
Yep, people love lists.
Many times, the lists can be about information that is only relevant to a select few or to the person writing the list. Yet, other times, the list carries value and benefit. Recently, I was reading an article in a “lists” book that stated people forget 80% after 24 hours of reading it (whatever it “is).
I disagree with that, because if the factoids, the bits of information matters to you OR you are someone who retains facts, data bytes for future conversations, then it stays, and thus it could be more than the 20% retention, as presented in that previous article.
Here are a couple of my recent lists. If you are interested in lists or interested in knowing what are the top three LMSs in various verticals including healthcare, retail, financial as well as various markets including SMB and Enterprise, order the Mid-Rankings Report, today!
But Back to B2B
A B2B could fit into any of these buckets or even into a bucket yet defined
- Channel Partners
- Distribution partners
- Distribution centers
- Clients – maybe you sell Fish and each of your clients are small businesses that receive and sale your fish
- Resellers who are part of your business learning network – maybe you provide them courses on how to sell your product.. who knows
- Content Providers – the fastest growing B2B right now in e-learning; best or most amazingly of all – it can be just one person who has created a course (content) and then has their own clients who purchase the course or courses to provide to their own employees; the days of large content providers as the only option is gone
- Trainers – Popular in UK, whereas a trainer buys courses and then can sell the courses to clients, I could easily toss in consultants who do the same thing; regardless the trainer would need a LMS first to house the courses in order for them to slide under B2B
- Company to Company
Before you buy into B2B, make sure you have the right B2B
Talk to anyone who has a multi-tenant (multi-portal) platform and immediately they will pitch that they are ideal for any markets including the B2B. They will spout that it can be used in education – i.e. Education B2B, associations and of course corporate.
What they fail to miss immediately, is just having a multi-tenant platform/aka parent/child/child aka portal/sub-portal aka PAAS (Platform as a Services) with multiple instances, is just a piece of the whole pie.
That piece I see as the crust. Oh, you want filling with that? Then you better have
- E-Commerce, including a shopping cart or ability to add an API shopping cart
- E-Commerce that includes subscription bundles, promo codes, coupons, discounts, etc.
- E-Commerce that accepts multiple types of payment; just having PayPal doesn’t cut it; rather accepts credit cards and PayPal would be better
- Accepts multiple payment gateways, such as Authorize.net, Stripe and so on (PayPal slides in here too). One vendor who isn’t on the list, for multitude of reasons, accepts over 25 payment gateways — that is enormous in size for this industry
- There are vendors who include a payment gateway for those who don’t have one, but the catch is that they charge a transaction fee along with point of sales per item sold fee
- E-Commerce should be robust – if you haven’t figured that out already
So the filling is now there, but what about the top of the pie? The stuff people see immediately?
Well the system should have
- Ability to skin/brand each sub-portal/tenant/instance/child separately, so if there are 25 children, then each child has a different skin/brand than the parent (main site) and so forth
- Each child et al.. should be free – and the vendor should not do the infamous, you get one free (child) then pay extra per child. If you have 50 children and someone is charging you $500 per child, it can be astronomical in $$$
- Some vendors will place the B2B on a separate server, thus the parent and all their children sit on a standalone server and not on one server with all the other clients, although each client has its own silo
Top Five B2B
As with any list, there are always people who are going to say, “what about this one?”, “IDC, Gartner didn’t have that one on their list OR that vendor is on a list from Forrester but not on your list OR the vendor let’s me know that WidgetResearch firm has their platform as #2, but it is not on my list.”
Here’s the thing, while I am happy for you to be on each or every or one list or another, it doesn’t change my perspective or my take. Everyone has different opinions, uses different criteria (or at least I hope they do), methodologies and processes. My LMS Directory has over 600 vendors. Someone else’s list may have 250.
This is just top five and not top 10 or top 20 or top 8. If you want to find more details on the information about each of these vendors including their profile information, then feel free to purchase my report, it contains all – as the Oracle of Delphi would say, oh wait, that is sees all, never mind.
All the vendors listed below are in my top 50 Mid-Year Rankings report. As such, the top “5” in B2B comes out of the top 50 list.
I should note that Meridian meets all the B2B criteria and is a top 20 LMS, however they have told me that the prefer a minimum of 2,500 users, which as anyone who knows in the B2B space, you never really know how many you will start or end up with in the course of a year. This did play a role in them not being listed as a top five vendor.
Aduro was another vendor in very close consideration. They do not have a “preferred number”. However, they required a few more items to be “customized” to slide into the top five rankings. That said, I do like the very hip modern UI.. oh, and nice folks too.
#5 – SumTotal Learn
I give them big kudos to updated the UI, but I wish they did a tad more. I have been told that 50% of their customers customize the UI and 50% just keep the UI as it is – out of the box. Anyway, the B2B fits the bill and works.
I give it an edge over Cornerstone OnDemand, who still has major UI challenges to solve among some other items, and while their e-commerce is extremely extensive, if it and the admin side for that matter overwhelms you, then not even a great e-commerce will work. Also the price points for someone going B2B with either system is extremely expensive. Same price wise with SuccessFactors.
If I was brand new to B2B space and didn’t have the cash flow at the beginning to sustain, there is no way I could afford some of the larger size vendors who offer B2B. But if you can and you want to decide between CoD, SF, Saba or SumTotal. Go SumTotal. If you want uber e-commerce and can deal with the subpar UI and some other challenges, then explore Cornerstone OnDemand.
Slick UI with a price point that is perfect for training/content providers or anyone who is entering B2B and doesn’t have a lot of cash sitting around to pay up front.
System offers integration with Shopify, which is cool. Accepts payments in USD, GBP, CAD, EUR or AUD). I wish honestly it would accept more payments than that, but it is a start.
Accepts PayPal, Authorize.net and Stripe. The LMS is a self-service system, which is growing in the space. This means you buy now, you can go live that same day. So adding new branded sub-portals/children/clients is quick and easy to do. System is very affordable for what you get.
I’ve talked highly about the company before and without ad naseum here, I will say that it is very strong in B2B. Unlimited children/sub-portals/etc. and skins is included in the system. With the one click app capability you can even add some additional punch to the offering. Modern UI, feature sets to match. The one item that does not come “as is” – the ability to do a subscription bundle.
However, I listed Docebo here because their price point is so affordable, having that feature included is not a budget breaker.
Docebo is also a self-service system, but if you need some help setting it up, etc. – they are there for you. Offers the ability to have your own LMS on a separate server than everyone else.
A very feature rich system with a solid UI that keeps improving. It is uber modern? Uh, no. But they are always adding new capabilities and constantly tweaking the UI for enhanced performance. Plus their support is truly elite – that has to count for something.
One item that is on their roadmap is social intertwined with gamification that is on the horizon. Sweet.
They meet all of the B2B criteria. Pricing can range from affordable to pricey depending on the number of users. By they do offer “Active/Inactive” users which is very big in the B2B market, well at least to me it is.
I say Expertus, you say “Hey, Craig you always list them so high!” – and yes that would be true. There are plenty of places that Expertus is not the #1, let alone in the #5 for certain verticals, markets and genres.
However, this is not one of them.
It hits all the criteria listed above and then some. The UI, feature sets, etc. are really fantastic, especially mobile (on/off synch) and gamification. The system also offers an active/inactive capability which is an added plus.
I have found them pretty flexible when it comes to B2B, more so than many other vendors. Thus, pricing starts out as below mid tier for affordability, but can shoot up high with the more users you have. Thus if that was one minus point, it would be the cost.
That said, if you have some cash flow already in existence and project strong usage by end of the first year, thus being able to afford a more pricey system – as the users go up (i..e 10,000 at the end of the year), this is a worthy system to consider.
That’s my list.
I hope you found value in it.
And if not, then at least know that
I have something else for you;
**This list is my top five places to visit in LA. Contact me for a copy.
Hi Craig, many thanks for this article! Greatly appreciated! I am working for a company (200-300 employees) so the top 5 LMS selected is a great pool to check out. Your blog is insightful and thorough!
Great article as always. When you are researching these B2B / Extended Enterprise systems would you also look into capabilities by vendors to support customers who purchase training on behalf of others? This is an area I see as a big need and have only come across a few that remotely support this requirement.
It is a considered factor right now – but I think we may be talking about two different things; if you are asking whether how a system worked when a consumer or someone i.e. a client per se, purchased a course in the B2B LMS and then it was for someone else in the system (so you switch over the user name/password to someone else) – then yes that was part of the equation, same if the person buys a course but does not pre-reg ahead of time, was factored – and a more common scenario.
I am talking specifically about the functionality available for a corporate / facilitator account to come to a site, purchase training in bulk (volume discounts, tiered pricing, etc.) and distribute that training to their employees (whether they are in the system or not) through various means including tokens, credits, enrollment keys etc. The complexities in the scenarios tied to purchasing/distributing/reporting on behalf of others is where my interest lies.
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