Finally.  It sounds like it means what it says – as in final, the end, no more whatsoever whatever.  I’d be thrilled to tell you that after this post there aren’t any more secrets to dilvuge in the LMS world. That everything is covered.  I would love to say that, but that just isn’t truthful.

Nope, there will always be secrets to this space, not because if it an industry built on the likes of secret societies or the Illuminati or created by individuals who were X-Spy this or that.  Rather, because in this industry, it is a constant ebb and flow of nuances, jargon, perceptions and changes.

Let’s start with the latest mis err perceptions happening today

If you have been in the e-learning space for at least three months, you will probably have realized that it is an industry  whereas what one word or term means in X, means something different in Y.

Terms that still are reigning down confusion are

  • E-Learning – It is an umbrella term.  I can’t say that enough.  It does not mean courses, content, LMS, authoring tool, etc. It means what it says – online learning.
  • M-Learning – Unless vendor specifies it only means that you can view their platform via a mobile device (browser).
  • Social Learning –  It was created based on the components of social media + learning = social learning.  Nowadays, it is defined as anything that provides/offers a collaborative learning experience.  Still, haven’t figured out how “text chat” or “discussion forums” big in 90’s still are “models of social learning” in 2015.   But that is for another post.
  • Gamification – Gaming elements used online.  Does not mean games nor the ILT approach of gamification.   It is though slowly adding actual games – not universal mind you. Not universal at all.
  • Personalization – Wonderful word to toss around, but in its basic sense all it means is that the “learner side” is personalized for the learner – the caveat though is that the administrator decides what is personalized, what is not, and the options may be limited in scope, so Personalization in A system, is not the same as Personalization in B system.

Compliance

Here ye. Here ye. Any time you mention “compliance”, ears shoot up and mouths widen – since so many people need or seek a system that offers compliance.  Vendors get it.

That is why, when you say, hey I am looking at compliance, they immediately go – “yeah we have that ..” and off to the races.  The secret though is in “compliance”.

I may not have an audit trail, but if a transcript provides all the specifics needed for an audit, surprise – I have an audit trail.

In the world of compliance and regulatory, they (the terms themselves) do not go hand in hand with every LMS that offers “compliance”.

If your company or industry has specific compliance requirements, then you should select a LMS that is in that “vertical”.  In other words, if you are in Pharma., then finding a LMS that either focuses on Life Sciences or Pharma or has it as a vertical, would be more beneficial than someone who does not.  Even then, you still have to make sure they have the compliant features you need.

If they say we can build that – guess what?  For the most part, many others can too – and thus, why do you need them?  It is of my opinion that those hefty fines that your firm has to pay when you are not in compliance with whatever, should be the stressor to ensure you spend the $$$ to find the LMS that should eradicate or eliminate those issues. 

Yet, I see folks in highly regulatory industries select systems that do not have all the compliance features they need or even have enough, simply because they are cheap.

The moment OSHA rumbles in and fines your company (US) for safety regulations, which could have been removed with safety training and validated with some compliance features, is the day, you will realize that “hey, maybe we should have spent more for..”.

Money..Money…$$$$..

I say “Save” – you say ‘HOW?”

The latest on industry discounts, things to do to save some $$$ and lots of more..

  • Due to increase in systems, the 15% universal three year discount is disappearing.  For a three year deal, it is now falling into the 10% to 15% range, although I have seen higher.  The Catch – the “learning platforms” (I’ll explain in a sec.) or LMSs that are low, low cost are selling “As Is” – so no discount.

Thus, if you have buying a system that costs $300 a month for whatever user base that covers, do not expect any type of a discount.   Equally, the self-service systems, where you buy today (online) and technically can go live the same day – no discount.  A vendor who does “no contract” ever well, that is sometimes a ploy, so pay attention.

Why?

You just spent all that time finding a system.  They (vendor) knows the likelihood that you will bolt after one year is quite low.  Thus “no contract” is just mind twisting at its finest.  

If the vendor of “no contract” requires you to pay all of it (for each year) up front, is it is really “no contract”, or an equal favorite, “leave anytime”?  Again, “leave anytime”, after you just loaded your thousands of employees, or had users in the system for the past five months, or have been promoting this thing –  so you are going to bolt after three months?  Right.

Best Deal

I always say three years.  Now, kick in a new twist – you want pricing locked down for those three years (based on whatever seat price you negotiated or price for user base you negotiated or pricing you negotiated).

Generally speaking, vendors love this and want this – you signing on for three years. I mean, heck, they want more, but three years is nice.  However, some vendors will go okay, but the stipulation has to say it won’t increase higher than 10% per year.  This means, that if they quoted you at 1000-1250 seats the fee is $20 a user,  than next year it could go up 10%.  I saw – poppycock!

You are not and they should not be in the “cost of living” business.  10% or I’ve seen 20% increase per year, for pricing to be locked down, is just saying, “hey we did a poor job on our costs, or we want to make sure we covered our additional cost – and passed it on to you”.

Remember, seat pricing is arbitrary, and that setup fee is well based on lots of factors, some of which, Tesla has returned from his grave and still figuring out how it was calculated.  So, the “increase percentile for a three year deal locked in pricing”, is just flim flam at its finest.

Range

The worst of worst terms possible.  I might as well just say, well fill in your dollar amount when you are done, please.  A setup fee does not require a range.  They know the cost.  I’d prefer TBD on a line item, say some type of interface (if not a system that is known), than the range.  Range will set you up for disappointment, because a range shows up with a low number (relatively speaking) and a high number.

And our brains are fixated at the lower number.

B2B/B2C Pricing

I hear it often.  The phrase, “we are looking for a system that is B2B and/or B2C and it seems to us that there aren’t any”  OR “We looked around and all the LMSs we have found are for employees and not B2B”.

Quick Hits

  • Plenty of vendors do both – i.e. internal (employees) and external (B2B/B2C)
  • I look to see if the vendor offers multi-tenant (aka extended enterprise).  If you are going B2B/B2C you may want to have it on a private server (costs extra) and it depends on your industry; rather than a shared server.  Private is fine too on internal, BTW.
  • Watch out for vendors who say “We are the Best in B2B or the only ones in B2B/B2C”, because a)there are plenty out there who do B2B/B2C (and yes some only focus on that) and b)When I see that “the best” it is wide open for interpretation.  The best for what?  Counting your toes at the company picnic? Ripping off customers?  Showing cool features in an archaic platform?  Share!

In my Top 50 LMSs for 2015 report, I do identify the top three systems for B2B/B2C and in specific verticals.  To Kick-off the launch of my think tank next week, (surprise, surprise), a special discount to readers who purchase the Top 50 LMS Report. Save $100.  Now, $499 through end of June. Use code “thought” for discount.

The Think Tank

The official announcement is next week in London, and thereafter will come all the particulars including who are the industry specialists/experts in The Company of Thought.  

Backstory

I’ve been toying with the idea of having a think tank dedicated solely to online learning, but done in such a way that it put together not just the “Same ol same voices” in the industry, but people who were a)independent mavericks in their own right b)the best of the best – experts in specific niches,  c) Be experts in e-learning,  d)Represent different parts of the world and can not only provide insight into their own area, but with a few, other areas too  e)Create a collaborative entity for the empowerment of our industry, e-learning and where it stands now, is heading, etc.

I approached some folks and explained the idea, what I envisioned the think tank to be and ideally become and so forth.  As a result, there are three of us – founding principals if you will, Myself (Craig Weiss,USA),  David Patterson (UK) and Bob Little (UK). 

The name?  The Company of Thought, the e-learning think tank with an international perspective

Based:  St. Albans (UK), outside of London with another location in the LA area.

The Industry Experts:  Okay it includes me (Craig Weiss), David Patterson and Bob Little.  It also includes – wait – that will be announced on June 15th, but I can tell you that it will not be the usual names.  Nothing personal on any of them, but I felt some “new ideas, approaches and new ways of thinking embracing the technology and cultural aspects as we move towards 2016 and beyond was essential.”

About The Company of Thought

TCoT is an international Think Tank which aims to help identify, analyze and generally shed light on developments in the corporate online learning industry worldwide – and discuss their implications for business.

Its Mission is ‘to report and comment on trends within the corporate online learning technologies industry worldwide, independent of any vested interests’.

Yes, I will still offer my services, including my yearly Top 50 LMS report, etc. 

I was asked recently whether I would still continue my services once the think tank is launched, and the answer is YES.  Nothing business wise from myself or any of the others changes – each person still maintains and runs their own business and their respected services.    The Company of Thought is a collaborative entity,  E-Learning 24/7 is an individual entity – namely, me.

So, if you are seeking a LMS (shameless plug) or are a vendor interested in my vendor services (shameless plug), please contact me. 

As for TCoT,  well, after June 15th, you will know more –  a lot more. 

That’s it, from this week.

No bottom line is needed, I think.

But I will say this. Something that I hinted above, so early on.

The terms LMS and learning platforms.

After carefully analysis I’ll share in an upcoming blog, how you can distinguish between the two and how I see the difference between the two.  Both are learning systems, but the LPs share common themes (if you will) and LMSs (too).  It has nothing to do with modern UI, future tech. or features (uh to a point).

Rather it has something that for everyone is visible up front and center.

Something that in an industry, is often hard to find.

Even with the lights turned on.

E-Learning 24/7