Final Post Analysis of #HRTechConf 2015

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Whew. It is over.  A big expo with several LMS vendors along with a few HR focused vendors who had a “learning component” to their systems.

Lots of interesting stuff happening over in the HR space, but this analysis is all about our beloved e-learning and thus wonderful LMS flying machines (anyone see that movie? Anyone?).

Let’s jump right in – but first let me say this – I for the life of me cannot understand why the conference on day one did not provide free lunch boxes? 

They did on day two but not day one.  I heard a lot of grumbling from attendees who had to go over to the food court at Mandalay Bay Convention Center (the pizza place was happening) or into the casino.  Personally, it was kind of lame and rotten on the part of the conference.

Anyway, I wanted to point that out – I ended up at the food court both days, since HRTech figures everyone can eat everything – no lactose-free meals nor gluten free.  Thanks for nothing (do you sense bitterness? Good).


I did not attend the sessions, since I had an expo pass only, but heard from people the usual – good and bad sessions.   So, nothing new on that front.

What I heard and saw

Lots to report – okay some items to report.

SumTotal by Skillsoft

According to a source, SumTotal is coming out with a new revamped version – including UI in 2016.  My source tells me that this new version is in production as we speak.  I have reached out to SumTotal about seeing this latest version in the next few weeks.  I’ll keep you posted.


For folks who use their product, I was told by a salesperson that xAPI is not on their radar, nor is any type of on/off synch mobile app.  

They go with m-learning philosophy of you opening up your mobile browser and going right to the site.

Bonus – I asked to see their learning gateway (learning component) and was told that it was not setup. 

Considering that the rest of their product was live on various computers, I’m a little confused.  Clearly this meant they have the module off, but how hard is it, to go on the back end and turn it on?

My favorite was their VP of Sales – I think he was Regional – I tossed his card in the trash, so I can’t remember. 

Why trash city?  He tells me that he can show it via his mobile device, again, why not those computers? 

I asked him for a demo, he said it was doable and with that he walks away and goes and talks to three folks near the booth.  Jeez, thank you for the sincerity and politeness.

Anyway, I’ll pass on the demo.


Not really a rumor, rather facts

a. They do not have on their radar, xAPI nor on/off synch for mobile – I was told the usual garbage line that their customers haven’t asked for it, nor have people reaching out to them.  This gets me back to my common statement – if they don’t know they won’t ask.  Secondly, if you do not have it, they are not contacting you. And thirdly, you are supposed to be the experts here, not them.

b.  No intention at this time for LRS.  In fact, the “tech guy” didn’t even know what LRS stood for.  He told me it was a learning repository, as in a repository of like files stuff.   No, it is not.   Again, if the “Experts” don’t know what it is or why it can be useful, what does that say about the product – from a learning perspective?

c.  You cannot change the labels or front blocks on the learner side.  You can turn them off – via the administrator, but it is universal – which means = turn off one block and it is across the board, not by individual user.   Oh, you can change the labels on the back end – administrator side. But here is the thing – why would someone want to do that?

d.  Talent Pool comes with the learning product.  Maybe it was called Talent Portal, I can’t remember – it was a long week.  Anyway, it had some nice items to it, but the learning needs serious modifications and an understanding of what e-learning is and isn’t.

e.  The person who provided/showed me the product was fantastic.  He deserves a raise.  I found out via our conversation that he was a former trainer, and it showed in how he presented the product.  This is just another reason, I believe that the people who should show you the product whether it is face to face OR online, should have a training background.  Yet for the vast majority of vendors in the LMS space, this is not the case.  They do not have a training department and yet who is their target audience? L&D and training folks.  Along with HR to a small degree.

To me that is like being in the auto industry and having your mechanics need assistance and the vendors who provide that assistance are not mechanics nor have any auto mechanical experience.

By the way, an online learning course is not called an e-course.  What the freak is that?  If you want to go with what folks are doing today, which is taking the umbrella term of e-learning and turning that into what they call an e-learning course, fine.  Better yet, it is just a course.  After all, it is online.  Or call it an online course.


I had my suspicions that the LMS365 product was the future of their offerings – with eventually it having more robust feature sets and capabilities, then it does now (right now, super super basic).  Thus, they would migrate over their SharePoint current solution – into LMS365 down the road – in a couple of years.

According to a person at the show, that is their game plan.  So, LMS365 at some point down the “road” will have the feature sets from the SharePoint offering and whatever else is new within LMS365.

Personally, it has a sharper look and I love how it is intertwined with Office 365. With the SharePoint power from the SharePoint LMS from ELF, it will only get better.

By the way, for folks who are seeking a LMS built on SharePoint, ELEARNINGFORCE is the best one out there.  There are really two big players as I mentioned before, and ELF is the better one.


Their booth had vastly improved and the folks were equally knowledgeable and helpful.

Meridian is coming out with a new version targeted later this year, but I sense it will be around by the end of Q2 2016.

 I admit I am looking forward to seeing it.  At one time, this was a very solid solution, but it went down in 2015. 

Now with a new CEO and as early noted, new perspective, I sense they are now heading in the right direction. Definitely going to keep an eye on them.

CD2 Learning

If you can wait a few years, they will get there.  Otherwise, move on.  

The system is lacking a lot of items and so far, nothing has been added since my last discussion with them.  Again, it has potential.  Just look at it from that perspective.  At least they have a product. 

Cornerstone OnDemand

I prefer having demos for some products, off-site – as in, scheduling a full demo, online via a webinar.  It allows me to ask a lot of questions and I can hear them better.  My experience with CoD was in a nutshell, bizarre and strange.  I stress bizarre.

First, I get a guy who is giving me the third degree burn on why I want to see a demo.  I don’t know, uh, I’m curious about the product?  I never understand the grilling, when they are doing demos right at their booth.

Eventually he takes me to the front of the booth where some very nice people are trying to schedule me a demo. 

They went and got someone who then told me they didn’t have any spots available for a demo.  No matter, I’ll have it offline and online.

Another person at the booth was a reader of the blog, and stepped in to help me.  Thank you for doing so.  I sincerely mean it.

However, in the end, Cornerstone dropped the ball.

I was told that they would schedule me a demo offline – via a webinar and someone would call me on Thursday. 

I’m still waiting for the phone call.  Thus, I need reader assistance here. 

If you are a Cornerstone customer, can you reach out to your salesperson and let them know, that I would like to see the latest version of their product? 

My experience with CoD is that they ignore my requests and then I spend an insurmountable amount of time, getting someone to show me the solution – which they eventually do. 

As an analyst it is very frustrating and I often wonder, why are they afraid to show me the product?

What I did see, by the way, was some screens that had a modern UI and others that did not. 

This to me is a constant issue I have with the offering, however it would be nice if they actually followed up – I mean why scan my badge, if you have ZERO intention of calling me?

SumTotal by Skillsoft (Part two)

It was actually in the Skillsoft booth.  I was slammed with time, hence my request to see the product offline.  Friendly folks though.


Viewed the product, still underwhelmed.  Next.

The Worst

I cannot tell you the number of vendors in general at HRTECH that could slide into the worst and unbelievable category.  The clear winner was Kronos, but more on that in a second.

  • HRTECH not having any recycle bins for that paper stuff they shoved in those bags.  I walked by a trash can literally 200 feet from their main booth and it was full of that paper.  Glad to see you helping out the environment.
  • The freaking mobile app.  How hard is it to add geolocation to it?  They had the infamous booth numbers that were super tiny to read, but they did have a page with the vendor’s name and booth. 
  • I felt bad for the vendor who was near the board that had the Wi-Fi information on it.  They should get a refund. 

Kronos Fiasco – Congrats on winning the worst presentation event at HRTECH

I have to say upfront, that I have never seen anything, like what I saw.  I was waiting for Abbott and Costello to jump out and do their shtick.

Here is the Scenario

I was walking by their booth and noticed a person up on their “stage” starting to discuss whatever they were doing. 

There was no one – no one – sitting in their seats.  She stopped for a bit – since no one was there, and started up again.  (I was later told, that she was practicing and testing the mic)

While this was going on, a person in the booth, came up to me and tried to have me sit down for the presentation. 

Honestly, I wasn’t interested, but she said that they were giving away an Apple watch for those viewed the presentation via a giveaway drawing afterward.

She also let me know that since there wasn’t a lot of people sitting down (at that point, it was three), I had a good shot at winning. (I knew that was bogus, but hey, I could surf the web on my phone and possibly win a watch via drawing).

I accepted this wonderful opportunity. 

As I looked around, I saw other people in the booth making the same pitch to people walking by. 

It wasn’t about the product – seeing it (which is not what the presentation, was about, I think – since I left prior to starting), it was a shot to win an Apple watch.

It reminded me of those “giveaways” you get in the mail, asking you to check out some timeshare in the Berkshires or sunny Palm Springs, and after listening to it, you receive three nights and two days trip to Mexico or maybe a cruise.

As I was waiting,  I noticed that there was now multiple humans sitting down – great, my shot at winning the Apple watch had gone right down the drain. 

No worries, the presentation is about to begin, with some guy – I can’t recall his name – giving it.

The person on the stage, let everyone know he was getting ready for the presentation. Lucky for me, I could see him. 

He was chatting to someone – I think another employee.  I guess that was part of the prep for this once in a lifetime presentation.

I should note, that she – the person on the stage, mentioned a couple of times, that he was getting ready – meanwhile he was sitting down having a chat.

The Presentation

It was time and here he comes, ready to start. WAIT.  An IT person or someone who knows how to use PowerPoint, shows up and the screen changes over to the PowerPoint slide screen.  Something needs to be fixed.

Oh, I forgot to mention that when this whole thing started, they kept telling me, it was going to start in 15 minutes.  Then, it was five minutes.  I can honestly report, that it was the longest five minutes in the world.

Getting back to that slide screen – you would think that during the time, the speaker was getting ready, the person was on the stage, someone would have made sure the presentation was ready to go.

Nope, so I was going.

But…Another booth person, let me know the presentation was starting in five minutes. 

Best LMS Product

ELEARNINGFORCE was the winner.  I say this, because they were extremely helpful and provided insight into the offering. 

They were quite knowledgeable about SharePoint, had a very solid solution, albeit I wish they would update their icons – total Windows 2000 look.  However, the product is smooth, like butter.  Okay, not that smooth, but you get my drift.

Bottom Line

As usual, there were vendors whose booths were awesome, but you couldn’t figure out what they were selling. The strange part on those booths was a constant jungle theme. 

Overall the show was good, lots to see. 

For someone in HRIS or HR with talent management requirements this is a must attend event. Even HR people seeking one stop solutions covering on-boarding, recruiting, compensation, talent and learning. 

LMS vendors who are targeting HR folks, I’m not sure how successful you would be at the event, but if you valued HRIS people and especially those who are tied to HRIS platforms like Workday, then an attend makes sense.  Otherwise, SHRM is a better event for you (referring to LMS vendors who seek or whose system is tailored towards HR).

That’s my take of the event.

And yes, this read is longer than five minutes.

But no, you still don’t get an Apple watch*.

Maybe in 15 minutes.

Or maybe not.

E-Learning 24/7  (uh, there is no giveaway for this article and no watch is being given away*)


  1. Couldn’t agree more about the lunch. Technomedia would have loved to demo our LMS product for you. If you’re interested, I have a Fitbit with your name on it :). Promise – LOL.

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