LMS LMS forecasts

Hey LMS Santa!

Interested in finding out the latest in the LMS space? Santa is ready to share!

I remember the days when Santa would come to my house. We’d leave some carrots for his reindeer, cookies for him (always fresh made by Mom) and milk.  Why milk and not booze? 

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Good question. 

I guess Santa enjoyed the refreshing taste of milk.  Which reminds me, why not chocolate milk?  It was always white milk.  I demand an investigation.

If Santa is on the way to your home to deliver his gifts and drink out of your bar, err, have milk, then there is no better time to ask him the following

Hey Santa!

Why are LMS vendors racing to the Enterprise space and leaving others behind?

It is true and expect to see more of it in 2016.  As a wise man or greedy man once said, “There’s gold in those hills.”  And thus, the vast increase of vendors targeting Enterprise.

Worse or better depending on your perspective, an increase of vendors focusing on 20,000 or more (internal), no less.  

Now, you might say to yourself, there are only so many of those – and yes, you would be correct, but from a vendor standpoint – more means more – as in money.

Hey Santa

Where do most vendors hit when it comes to specific market size?

Mid-size all the way.  Sure, there are plenty who go SMB, but the M – means mid-size. 

What I have seen is entry into the space, focusing on small business, then an always “contact us” for over 1,000 (internal i.e. employees) and zammo – you have early entrance into mid-size.

After awhile, many will follow their com-padres and go full mid-size 1,000 to 9,999 (internal).  

That isn’t to say, there aren’t vendors who stay SMB, because there are, but if you want to hit it with longevity, then the eventually is mid-size.

Hey Santa!

Are their vendors who only focus on B2B/B2C?

Yes.  Service Rocket is one vendor who comes to mind, and BTW is in my Top 50 LMSs for 2016.  And there are plenty of vendors who go internal and external (i.e. B2B/B2C) too.   

The best way to find out their commitment to the B2B/B2C market, i.e. those who do internal/external, is to find out if they have a pricing model specific for B2B.  Either they do or don’t.

One vendor, eLogic Learning, offers a registration model, which IMO, is an excellent approach for the B2B/B2C space.  

The whole active/inactive pricing model, was at one time the right way to go, but now, it scares me.  Too many variables and too many opportunities for the customer to have to pay attention to the numbers. 

You have enough problems as it is.   

Anyway, it can be done – active/inactive, but always have it specifically clarified on how it works.  The concern I have with it, is that in many cases it is not clearly explained and thus wide open for interpretation.

Hey Santa

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What do you see as the “verticals” for 2016?

Santa, “What stale cookies? That’s it, you get coal.”  “Oh, sorry, didn’t hear your question, I was recovering from these cookies from 1890.”

Yes, all verticals are in play, but what I am seeing is an increase in the following specific areas:

  • Associations – The strangeness though – not that many targeting trade associations; a wide open opportunity; but professional associations (member based) leads the pack
  • Retail/Hospitality –  Always solid, gaining more steam. The downside? Economics.  Economy goes sour, retail takes a hit, vendors feel the hit.
  • Technology (software/hardware) – The boom is on. 
  • Niche –  Areas that are not common, but are out there awaiting for someone to land them.  The latest on the niche is “green technology” – which I see as a big growth opportunity, whether you agree with climate change or not,  green tech is moving forward and so will be their needs for learning solutions, including platforms
  • B2B –  I’m not talking extended enterprise here within a company or channel partners per se; I’m talking content providers (maybe they built a couple of courses and want to go online), training providers, even training consultants (UK) –  HUGE money sitting on the virtual table, and now vendors – well, more than before, see that

Hey Santa!

What will be the big thing or things in 2016?  And will I need to buy snow boots?

Boots? Only in Cold areas.

Big in 2016, well, some will be the same you have seen in the past, but when I look at my snow globe ball, I see

Mobile

I’d include on/off synch native apps finally denting the market, the way it should have been.  Plus

  • Mobile/Video – M-Learning continues to push forward, with companies moving towards BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), dumping laptops/desktops for tablets, and the 2to1 hybrid (laptop/tablet think Surface by Microsoft) pushing into mainstream, vendors are awakening that mobile must be stated, included and expanded upon

Toss in video, including ability to shoot the video, upload video via mobile device and make it either an instant course or

  • Content Curation –  incorporate it into content. Content curation or the term “curation” alone will be big. 
  • Coaching or Ask an Expert –  I prefer ask an expert, only because the “coaching” usage is somewhat misleading.  Maybe use mentor as an option, but asking an expert, especially one within your business is a more appropriate use.

Especially when it comes to B2B.  What I see for now is the ask an expert and build upon angle. 

What I see by 2018, are the “experts” within the company or outside (as in not part of your business) not just appearing as photos within a profile, rather, video enabled, whereas a person can ask them in real time on X topic or schedule a video call for Y topic.

The key for asking an expert, is having someone who not only has expertise and knowledge, but is willing to espouse that knowledge and insight to others using terms and vernacular that anyone can understand.

How many times, do you have an SME and can’t figure out what they are really saying or the jargon overload is deadly?  Anyone who has ever built a course knows this issue far too well.

Anyway, solve that and asking an expert within or externally is solvable.

  • Video – Short and tight. Three minutes is preferable.  Five minutes is the maximum.  Focus on one topic.  Anyone who says they can’t create a video chunk in five minutes on a topic, should realize that their learners are not going to watch it for more than five minutes.

But beyond that, here is what is coming with that video

  • Search within video
  • Video transcripts (not closed captioned)
  • Video clip extraction via the search capability

Social

  • Tied way more to feedback than ever before, especially with courses (already I know), but with all types of learning assets (a term I know prefer when it comes to content pieces).   I also see it tied to gamification components and by 2018, deep learning – as a variable.

In other words, it is going to be more than a wall stream.

  • Web Apps – Big, Big and Big.  Okay, somewhat big, but definitely a winner.  Not just links via API (Application program interface) such as Linkedin, Twitter or Facebook, but also using such apps as Zapier, Shopify, etc.   Some vendors I surmise will push their mobile apps as web apps. 

Finally,

  • xAPI and LRS.  If there is one “holy moly” feature, it will be xAPI with a nice dose of LRS.   Two points to make of this:

a.  You do not need xAPI to have an LRS and secondly,  both are a work in progress.  I cannot stress that enough.  If you are expecting perfection, you will be disappointed.  Along those lines realize that LRS – its premise is changing – due to the vendors (as a whole), which is another whole ball of coal in your stocking (and a future blog post).

Hey Santa!

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Should I tell my employees and customers that I or my administrator can track them and monitor them in my LMS?

I’ve seen this question quite a bit and my answer is always no.  I have worked in regulatory and non-regulatory;  internal and external (B2B/B2C) and never told them.

And yes, even on a global scale.

If you want to achieve success – short and long term, there are certain rule of thumb items to use when pushing and marketing your LMS

  • Don’t call it an LMS to your learners; give it a name, “X university”, “U learning community” and so forth.  Talking to the execs pushing the system in meetings, you can state it is an LMS, then you have to explain what it is to them; then in that meeting or meetings, say you will refer to it as X and that is what you will say externally to your customers or employees

It works and works well.  Why create a challenge when you don’t have to

Telling them you are tracking them, will eventually lead to

  • Lack of open dialogue in social and comments.  If I know someone is watching, I’m sure in the heck, not going to be truly open on what I say about a learning asset, or something a social thread or social piece.

I know of one company who decided to include a truly “Facebook” like learning experience in their LMS.  It was widely used by their employees, but eventually they stopped using it and the company yanked it.

They told the vendor it was a failure because of the LMS. 

But what they failed to mention is that while their employees where posting comments, they (the company) was going in and removing comments they did not like.

Learners saw that, realized they were being watched – if you will – and stopped using it.  

Want to safeguard yourself in terms of privacy?  Create a quick pop up or page that the learner must agree to, which includes that a learner can be removed for profanity, offensive comments, harassment and so forth in the system. 

By clicking “I agree” they will abide by the standards of this site.  You can add whatever.   

Most folks will just click “I agree” without reading it – which btw – many of us do – when we see this box on other sites – and now you protect yourself.

I always had one in my LMS – heck ask the vendor, they may have some verbiage you can use. 

And guess what?  Everyone clicked “I agree”.

But getting back to tracking.  One of the reasons LMSs were started was due to finding out what your learners were doing, what courses they were taking, etc. – helping you define and create or better utilize certain topics of information – and thus analytics played a big role.

So if I know you are tracking me, will that change what I do?  It might.

If I want to mention the tracking information add it to your privacy and security paragraph that learners must agree to.  Place it at the bottom of the section.  Again, most folks will just click “I agree” and move on.

Hey Santa!

Any final comments?

Not really. Expect to say, there will be no blog next week, and I’ll see you in 2016.  So have a safe and happy holiday.

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