LMS State of Affairs

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620 and counting. 

Learning Systems. Learning Platforms. Learning Management Systems.

Maturity stage? Not close.

Fastest growing verticals – Healthcare/Medical care, Content Providers, Technology, Education (K-12, first and foremost, then HE)

Global markets

  • United States – Biggest player
  • Latin America – Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Mexico
  • Africa – Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda – continent as a whole is rocking, minimal competition
  • Western Europe – United Kingdom, Germany, France, Spain
  • Eastern Europe – Russia, a tad of Czech Republic
  • Asia –  China, India
  • Middle East – Saudi Arabia,Israel, UAE, Qatar
  • Pacifica – Australia, Indonesia, New Zealand
  • Caribbean –  Across the board, virtually every island is doing e-learning – not one truly stands out

Market with high revenue potential, yet has minimal competition – Content providers, B2B – unique angle – many systems do not understand the space, nor have a system that truly delivers what these markets need.

Space with the most competition – Internal Employees

Must Have Features – HOT!, Sizzling!

  • Gamification
  • Mobile for tablets with responsive design
  • Video
  • E-Commerce with significant capabilities
  • Competency Management including Skills
  • Compliance – but just because a vendor says they have it, they be turning items that really aren’t into something that works
  • HRIS integration
  • Salesforce.com integration
  • Modern UI for learners and administrators
  • Personalization

Features on the Rise – Roadmap if not in play

  • On/Off synch for mobile – self-contained app for iOS, Android
  • Built-in authoring tool – If you are expecting something like Storyline, forget it – not there yet; unless vendor has a partnership with an authoring tool vendor – example: Claro
  • App store and/or integrations across the board – example MailChimp
  • Learning communities tied to courses, groups
  • Video courses without being wrapped in an authoring tool
  • Tin Can API
  • Ranking, Rating Courses
  • Active vs inactive users (ideal for B2B, associations/non-profits, content providers, e-commerce focused buyers including trainers/facilitators/consultants)

Features to Watch – My Top 10

  • Curating
  • SMS notifications
  • Content/Courses coming with the system (at least two) at no charge to buyer
  • Predictive Learning
  • LRS
  • Enhanced administrative functionality
  • Learner and Admin dashboards upon entering the system
  • Big Data
  • Knowledge Management – but not the way you remember it
  • Training communities – not actually part of the system, but provides a wealth of information including how to videos for administrators

Must have feature even if you have a lame version of it or see it as a waster

  • Social

Break it down – What is it?

Right now there is something taking place in the industry, that is creating confusion among buyers – the term Learning Management System. 

Talk to folks seeking systems and what you could hear will surprise many vendors – the perception that a LMS is an outdated solution, archaic in nature that cannot provide the latest capabilities and functions needed in the market.

First and foremost, this is totally bogus.  Anyone who tells you that a Learning System is something more magical than a LMS, should perhaps check out the industry, learn more about what is a LMS and not just on the first two pages of Google and fully grasp what is e-learning.

I don’t care if you call your solution a learning system, learning platform, something that is so strange that people go “what?” and something whacked, at the end of the day it is a LMS.

It’s all about semantics. Vernacular if you will.

Key Points to Remember

  • A LMS, learning system, learning platform, whatever term is infrastructure. It could be SaaS infrastructure, PaaS infrastructure, a hybrid infrastructure, sitting on your own servers infrastructure, but it is infrastructure.
  • It holds courses, content, provides analytics, a learning environment, administration functionality, learner functionality and other components
  • It can offer mobile learning with responsive and on/off synch, social with vast capabilities, gamification, curation, LRS or Tin Can, PENS (type of compliance standard), video courses, video converter and much more
  • It can provide a modern UI and all the nuggets that go with it
  • It can be a self-service system (more on that in a sec.)
  • A learning community or hub or portal
  • A multi-tenant, parent-multi children, PAAS with instances
  • Can sit on your own servers, SaaS or a hybrid
  • It might provide things you never thought was possible, but is out there

In other words, depending on the vendor, it can do all that you want and need, or not.  The same applies to a learning system or learning platform.  Assuming that a learning system or platform is some advanced solution that is better or more modern that a LMS, is nonsensical.

Don’t buy into the hype, rather buy the system that works the best for you.

Why does the confusion exist?

Many people are only aware of the bigger names such as Cornerstone, Saba, SuccessFactors, Oracle Learn, Infor and Sum Total. They are all soft HCMS (human capital management systems), albeit SuccessFactors can be more than that i.e. HRIS platform and Oracle Learn can be too – heck even as an ERP if you go with the Oracle offering as a whole. 

Many modules including compensation, recruiting, performance, etc., with other platforms (besides those above) doesn’t help. Sure there is a need there for these solutions and people either love them or hate them and just stick with them because the fear of looking again is too much to deal with at the present time.

But they are not the only ones out there. 

Advantages of 620+

  • Gives you more options that ever before
  • Give you more options than ever before, thus selecting A vs B isn’t as easy as it once was, more is more, not always better – especially with systems that Pitch A but cannot even do A or B

Time Period

With the influx of more systems, the average age of the systems as a whole is two to three years.  There are more systems out there that are five or less years old as a true LMS than ones that are 6-10 or even 1o plus.  Consolidation rates continue to be extremely low and hello (newbie) versus goodbye (leave the market) is heavily sliding with “hello”.

Wild West

The industry in 2000 was the wild west, with plenty of snake oil salespeople out there, telling you what you want to hear, even if it wasn’t the case. Sadly, in 2014, it hasn’t changed. 

In fact, I have seen an increase – very likely do to more newbies – that do not even understand what is e-learning, how it works and for example, a LMS/learning system/learning platform is under the umbrella term of e-learning.  Social learning? Under E-Learning. Mobile? Under E-Learning. Talent Management – slowly sliding under E-Learning (good or bad from your perspective).

For soft HCMS whereas learning is just one of many components, that learning is still under e-learning. The HRMS? No, not even close. 

Type of Solution on the upswing

A self-service LMS (or whatever you want to call it to sell more of your solution as the anti- LMS or outdated perceived LMS).  Self-Service is creating such buzz, that there are vendors who have a LMS with long implementation times, developing self-service systems under another name – i.e. not identified from that vendor.

How is a Self-Service System defined?

  • Buy now, go live now – in just an hour or a few hours depending how long it takes to change the skin (sometimes provided as a theme from the vendor), add your logo, change some wordage, maybe fonts if they let you, upload users, assign courses and so on
  • Training often comes in the form of webinars whereas there could be many clients on it, rather than just you; videos, guides, FAQ, Knowledge bases
  • Support – Most of the times e-mail; some times phone too, but want priority – you buy that
  • Pricing tends to go either up to 100 users or with some vendors up to 500, BUT Wait – you want enterprise or over the amounts presented – no worries, we can do that
  • Typically modern UI – although some are dated and duds in my book
  • Video plays a nice role, feature set can be robust or limited (often more robust than you might expect)

Best way to think of a self-service system? Gas/Petrol station.  Drive up, fill up yourself, pay for it on your own (without stepping in and paying the clerk) and leave. 

Bottom Line

This is where we are.

Feel free to agree or disagree.

Feel free to ponder.

Feel free to question.

Feel free to acquire new knowledge or insight.

Feel free to ask “why” this and not “that”.

Feel free to see it for what it is

A state of affairs.

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