Catching Up: ATDTK Commentary

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First off, I want to thank everyone for their patience for this delayed week’s blog.  Getting sick as you know is no fun, especially when you think it clears up and then zammo it is back again.

A couple of notes before hitting this week’s post.  One is promotional, but hey, better than placing it within the post.

  • Next week’s blog post will be on Tuesday – It will list the top 10 LMSs for 2016, criteria, how you can buy the report for additional details, insight including finding out about the other 40 vendors; a few big time benefits for this year’s purchasers, etc.   For those interested in buying five or more copies, please contact me directly for a discount. Contact Craig
  • If you would like to pre-order the report and save $100 off the price, Please Contact Me.  You will be sent the discount code on Monday, so you can buy the report on Tuesday.   The report without the discount is $599, so when you think about, a $100 0ff is really a good deal.  Honestly, the price itself is a good deal, but anyway.
  • I can state that this year’s report, which is more than 200 pages, is the best one yet. But, I’m biased.  If you say, “hey, I want Craig to find us three LMSs within 45 days”, you will get a discount off that service. 
  • My business site – where you can find out about my services, is located at E-Learning 24/7.  Quite a few folks, understandably, think it is the blog, but it is a separate entity.

And now on to the show, err, past show (yuck, yuck)

ATDTK Post Review

I’m going to do something different than in previous review of show posts, and just hit the highlights, couple of low lights and the show in general.

If you did not attend this year’s ATDTK, you missed out.  Very good attendance and a good show overall. 

The expo will not super large or large for that matter, still had a compliment of wonderful products for folks to see. 

I was surprised at the number or lack thereof authoring tool vendors.  For a space that while not anywhere as large as LMS market, (there are around 125 legitimate AT vendors),  there are still a big need and want by consumers.   So, that surprised me.

The same with web conferencing vendors, but then again, they rarely show up to any e-learning show, which again, is stunning. 

Yeah, I know there are three big players, and sometimes GoToMeeting attends, but if you want to make a dent, you have to attend e-learning shows.  What you think everyone can find you just via Google? 

Deciding on which show to attend is really a science and I find that many vendors, are either good at or really poor at it and then gripe that nothing works. 

Even if you do attend, you can make a lot of massive mistakes and then, when you return back to the workplace, fail to really grasp the situation and blame the show.

As usual, I saw plenty of vendors who either didn’t get the memo from the head of sales or the head of sales is unaware of how an e-learning show, heck any trade show works in terms of getting customers into your booth.

Here are just a few how to’s (maybe I should also speak on this topic, too.  : )

  • Make sure your back wall tells me what the product is; fancy and cute is nice, but unless I can figure out what you do and sell, I’m not stopping.  Yeah, I’ll look and then keep on moving.  The same applies to the booth as well.  What is it with Jungle looks?  Again, I saw one at ATDTK.
  • Don’t stand at front entrance of your booth.  It scares people.  This is an old retail rule and it applies to trade shows. 
  • When you are talking to a customer, focus on the other customer.  Yeah, I know there are other folks walking by and maybe looking at your booth, but the person you are talking to – should and must be your top priority.  I had this happen to me multiple times (eye wondering) and even ran into a few other folks who had the same problem.

On Twitter one of my followers, said it happens in other places, so what’s the big deal?  It is a big deal and it should never happen.  You can’t change things unless you speak out, so I’m saying it.

The biggest two culprits for me, was Gamelearn’s salesperson and D2L’s person (I should add that both booths had multiple salespeople). 

The D2L person I talked with was very affable, knowledgeable and provided me with an excellent demo, but he did an eye wondering, once and it was very noticeable. 

The Gamelearn person was, well, I wanted to say, “hello, I’m here”, but it was clear I was more interested in giving feedback and thoughts and not interested in buying, so heck, why keep talking to me?  Cause, I’m the customer that’s why.

Where is the swag?  Buy some cheap pens at least.  People like swag and you can maximize marketing exposure by doing so. 

But if you are doing to do it, at least have your name visible and get something people want or use.  For me, and my debut booth at ATD International, it is very unique and very usable.  That’s me though. 

Invest a bit in your booth.  I know money is tight and you never know if it will work or not, and I really get it, especially since I’m jumping into the fray – and understand the costs. 

But, this is a big time marketing opportunity – you want folks to remember you – but what you do, not buy some other nefarious or insipid manner.

Lunch time – means eat lunch, but not in your booth.  By yourself?  But a sign that you are at lunch and what time you will be back.  Multiple people?  Schedule the time. 

The same with your freaking’ smartphone.  It should never be used at the show, when humans are walking around.  As in the attendees.  

It says, “you are bored” and boy, that is a major no-no.  Why, stop in your booth, when you are saying in body language you are bored?

Have enough folks, but refrain from too many.  eLearning Brothers are always guilty of this and I do hear feedback from people, that it is intimidating.  Sometimes you see more ELB folks than customers and it is so jammed in there, ugh.  Enough of that.

The Worst of the Show – and I sense that ATDTK folks were unaware

I’ll be frank here, what I overheard from a few speakers in the speaker room, regarding someone who presented at ATDTK, was offensive in so many ways, that it really irked me.

I do not know the person who said this during their presentation, but it was really in poor taste. 

The comment (about to be provided), was erroneous on their LMS statement, but the usage of the word that went with it, to anyone who has had a family member who has been at the said location, is just inexcusable.

The comment said to an audience at the show in a presentation

“An LMS is like a hospice, where courses go to die”

The hospice was really what caught my ear and to then to see the speaker folks laughing about the comment in the speaker room, was, just, ugh sicking.

If you have ever had someone go to a hospice (and I have), they do amazing things there, and really do make such an important difference during that time.   Anyway, the statement was in poor taste.

As for the “where courses go to die – in relation to an LMS”, tells me that the person saying it has zero clue on what they are talking about. 

It also tells me, that clearly they do not see how or the way to make their LMS work for their target audience and it is likely their course builds are poor or UN-engaging.

I can tell you from multiple experiences, how having an LMS with courses that people will take and use as a benefit, makes a difference in folk’s lives.

From a person in our mail room at one company I was at, who stopped by my office in tears with her eyes, thanking me for giving her the opportunity to take courses that she wouldn’t be able to afford or be given access to.

To the VP of marketing at another company, who e-mailed me (and he was not a fan of online learning, thinking it just didn’t make sense), telling me how much he loved the courses and e-learning.

This is just a sample, but it shows that online learning with an LMS can make a real difference in a person’s lives.

But it requires a few things on your part, another post, or wait, it is in my book, coming out in May at ATD International.  (promo pitch). 

If you are just offering compliance courses, most of which are like dry paint, then yeah, I can see how the access will be a dud.

I was surprised by another speaker’s face, when I told her how “non-linear – ability to jump around in a course” was how and why WBT was beneficial, compared to linear learning (A to B to C and so on).   She had no idea.   I think a lot of people fall into that line (no pun intended).


Again, overall the show was good and overall, I heard nothing but positive comments about the majority of seminars/presentations and speakers.

I give a big kudos to Justin Brusino, who is the main overseer of the event.  It’s never an easy task, and I think folks forget that. I know I do.

Wi-fi worked fine, but I wish it was more visible on how to find it and enter it. I had to ask, because I never read that catalog thing.  

I wish geolocation was used – I know – it is a repetitive record, but for sake – get on it.  If a LMS vendor can do it (ExpertusOne) in their app, then there is no reason, a trade show cannot.

I will note that there were quite a few of the Top 50 LMSs for 2016 in attendance at the show. Including #1 for 2016 (ExpertusOne). 

Others that I can recall, and excuse me ahead of time, if I forget, were (Administrate, Litmos, Pathgather (a micro-burst learning platform), Axonify (although their usage as an employee knowledge platform – really could backfire) and Curatr). 

I know I forget a couple of others – but it’s been a long week.

Bottom Line

I used to be a regular attendee of ATDTK, then stopped the last two years, because well, it went off the rails for me. 

I would go next year, even if I am not speaking, but, yeah I did enjoy the speaking engagement and a lot of people came up afterward to talk, ask questions, etc.

This is one of the things I live for.  Imparting information to attendees, when I speak. Folks ask me all the time, how I can go to some locations in the world, that they wouldn’t go in a million years.   And I say, because I can make a difference.

I know that may come out as arrogant, but that is not my intention. 

I remember years back in my days of being a high school teacher at an inner city school. I was quite passionate about teaching and deeply caring about my students. 

I believed that if I could make a difference in one person’s life, then I did my job – and yeah I know it is a cliche.

There were times, I had tears in my eyes, when I saw firsthand.  And unbeknownst to me, when Facebook hit the scene, I had many students who wanted to connect with me, because I had made a difference.

One became a trainer, another a Hollywood screenwriter, and so many others who went on to great success.

And they thanked me for helping them along the way.

I would like to hope that after each session, regardless in the world,  I am impacting in such a way, that at least one person, will go back and try to implement something I said, or try in whatever as it relates to e-learning.

After my session at ATDTK, I heard from a few folks that they could see first hand how passionate I was on my topic.

I’m glad they could see it and hear it.

Because words in a post, often do not express the passion.

It is a passion, I hope that you will – wherever you are located in the world (at last count, 155 countries and colonial territories – reading each week), you will try to take one bit of any information within my blog and take a chance.

I used to have one of those Successories posters on my wall, which I really feel says it all,

Ships were not built to stay in the harbor.

And neither should you with e-learning and an LMS. 

E-Learning 24/7

Here is my presentation from ATDTK 16 TopLMSFeaturesnTrends.

Correction:  In the original post, Gomo Learning was listed as the poor vendor in terms of the salesperson, that was erroneous.  The vendor was Gamelearn.  The change has been made.