Presidential Politics, LMSs – The Cycle

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If you are like me, there sure has been a lot of vitriol spilled in this year’s US Election. Some folks say it is the worst ever, but a fan of political history will note that this cycle of the insider needs to be out, the problems with Washingon and overall tone is nothing new. 

I note this because in the LMS and its subsets field, the same type of repeat, wash and repeat cycle exists.  Sure, there isn’t the vitriol of the campaign, nor feelings so upset that people cannot work together.  But there is plenty of hogwash there, nevertheless.

The Numbers – Percentages

I am a huge fan of polling and statistics. When done right the data can identify certain longitudinal information, forecasts and other useful analytics.  When it is done poorly it can skew something to such an extent that it misleads or otherwise  creates quasi perception to  what is really taking place.

Cycle A – Polling Political Style

Anyway who reads anything these days will see such items as 56% of Americans find so so untrustworthy. Ohio is neck and neck with 41%.  70% of this group is against this type of legislation.

What is the problem?

First off, do you think they reached out to every American in the United States to ascertain this info? What about the entire Ohio folks for voting in their state?  Of course not.  They conducted a poll using a sample of folks , using some type of methodology. 

Personally, I have no issue with that, but what I do have an issue with is when the results are stamped to mean everyone.  The way to offset it is to simply state, according to the XYZ poll 56% find blah blah, etc.   Or 56% of those polled found blah blah.

Seems simple and straightforward and yet the media and others love it ignore this approach, which makes I believe anyone who has ever conducted an academic survey to shrug in chagrin.

Cycle A – LMS Polling data

Some experts and pundits are quite upfront that their data is based on this study or that study and/or refers only to those surveyed.  Others though will espouse that Xs % hate or find issue with this or that.

An important factor that folks forget about is that by perception alone the data implies that everyone thinks this or that everyone sees this as that, when in reality that is often not the case.

If you have any doubt, go do a google search of percentages and e-learning, let alone LMSs and see what pops up.

Some quick data wise from my Top 50 2016 LMS Report

  •  52% said that their close ratio was four to six months
  • 40% added 16 to 50 new clients in 2015, 17% added 100 to 200
  • Being completely honest, how would you rate your customer service?  (out of scale of five) 3.4

Cycle B – Release the records

Transparency is one of this year’s focal points.  While one has shown their tax results, another has not.  One has health, another is close to releasing, unless you count that highly unique letter of greatest health in the history of the world.

Should we all as voters see everything? Yeah, I’d say so. After all these folks are running for President of the U.S., not the PTA.

Cycle B- LMS Transparency

I have several gripes when it comes to the LMS and its subset space.  Some rank higher than others, and one of these is transparency.

The minority of LMSs are public, thus the majority are private.  The public ones you get SOME transparency, but not everything.  With the private ones it is even worse. 

Put them all together and the transparency factor is questionable.

Customer support? Ha, good luck.  What you get is only what the vendor tells you.

Number of clients they lost in the last year?  You have a better chance of finding your HS graduation photo in your cellar.

Client growth Y2Y?  Public will disclose to a point.  Private, if it is positive and high enough, likely albeit no guarantees. 

Debt load?  Public has to disclose. Private doesn’t.  Considering that the number of vendors who are public are minimal, the transparency flag isn’t flying high here.

Customer reviews?  Well, yes this is subjective, but still..  Oh wait, that will be showing up on this blog in a new section coming soon.  But, that said..

LMS Staff Turnover –  I would love to know this because it can tell a lot.  If it is a sinking ship, the people will flee.

 If the company is facing internal strife or turmoil, firings and layoffs.  Re-organization?  You will find out with staff turnover numbers.  I prefer numbers, since percentages can be misleading.  I mean if you have a staff of six, and let go three.  

On the flip side, if you have hired 10 more support people and your previous number was five, that would great information because it shows an increase of customers and thus growth, b) recognition internally that you building your support and thus level of service.

Point of it all?  Benefits anyone and everyone looking out there.   Now do I need to know if you had pneumonia or the flu in the past few weeks?  No.

Cycle C – Spewing of Misnomers

Politifact is a non-partisan site that identifies how many false or near false statements politicians make in any speech, event, etc.   I recommend it for anyone who is interested in whether or not statements are 100% true, 50% true, somewhat true or as they say it “Pants on Fire”.

Cycle C – Spewing of Misnomers – LMS and subset style

How many times have you heard this from vendors

  • “Everyone hates their LMS”
  • “We are a non-traditional LMS” or “An alternative LMS”
  • “Our LMS is streamlined”
  • “Our clients have not asked for that feature”
  • “No one has asked us for that feature/capability”
  • “Our customer support is excellent”
  • “Our retention rate is 98-99-100%” (without telling you how many customers they have, and how many years is that based on)

Let’s see where to start

“Everyone hates their LMS” –  Depends on whom you talk to.  There are lots and lots of people who love their LMS. 

Funny, I never seem to read or hear that. 

And yes there are folks who hate their LMS.  As noted in a former post, I asked the “how many people hate their LMS,” in one of my sessions and overwhemingly people raised their hands.  My retort to them – “you picked the wrong LMS.”

It wasn’t trying to be a snarky comment, rather it is true.  You should like and ideally love your LMS.  If not, something went wrong along the way prior to purchase.”

So for those vendors or soothsayers that spew “Everyone hates their LMS.” that is only partially true.

“We are a non-traditional LMS” and similar statements

I have no idea on what non-traditional actually means.  I can guess, and often see that it is the case, that when a vendor says this or a consumer does they are looking at the Cornerstone or SumTotal or similar.  

Neither of which by the way are traditional.  I mean, they are more to me a HCM, which includes modules such as learning.  

But the LMS space as a whole? Not true.  

Some folks refer to non-traditional by saying it means “feature wise” or “forward-thinking”, and tie it into the new systems being this offering that has the latest and greatest and more capabilities than their fellow vendors.

Sorry to disappoint, but this is significantly false.  

The first vendor to offer an on/off synch app was ExpertusOne.  They were also the first ones to have geolocation and voice enabled capabilities in their mobile app.  eLogic Learning were the first ones to have a extensive learner centric capability (and still do).

Geolearning (may they rest in piece) was the first vendor to have a “gallery” whereas you can have sponsors images if you will on a wall, like an art gallery. Awesome for associations or B2B/B2C. 

The first ones to have a five level system and a library for buying and renting materials (your stuff) and 3D look and feel.  All of this was back in 2002.

Plenty of vendors were in the cloud in the early 2000’s.  So that isn’t something new.

Even with new subsets of the LMS space, they are all over the board.  The one nearly universal constant is a modern UI and the standards such as a course catalog, learning path, ability to add users, add users to groups, etc.

Non-traditional?  For those who see this as antiquated or old, remember the average age of vendors in the industry are in the four to five year range. 

How many of you own a Ford?  Or a Dodge? BMW? Mercedes?   Because each of one of them have been around for a long, long time well past 70+ years.  Do you say to yourself, hey time to get into my traditional car?

“Our clients have never asked for this/that feature” AND “No one has asked for that”

This is the wonderful excuse used by vendors when they do not have the feature you want or seeking. 

From their perspective it is 100% true, but in the wide scope of things, it is not.  If it was, no one would have m-learning or responsive or e-commerce or deep learning or curation or video course capabilities or on/off synch or social expansion or one click purchase courses or APIs and I could go on.

Somebody, someone either asked for this and the vendor thought yeah this makes sense OR more likely the vendor went ahead and built it.

I remember a few years back talking to an LMS vendor who told me the reason they did not have an Android app is because no one asked or requested it.  At that time, Android OS was 70% of the smartphone market.  Hello?  Is anyone out there?

Vendors routinely forget that their job is to a) get new clients  b) innovate – a huge piece of the pie here.  

Stick to the way you do things and yeah you will get customers, heck I have seen systems that look my friend (who admits to zero tech skill) built it.  People buy, regardless of so many things you seek or want.

It’s a rotten shame, in all honesty, but it happens way too often. 

“Our customer support is excellent”

Subjective and depending on your vendor could be true, mostly true, false or downright pants on fire along with your shoes.

Really? How can I know that for a fact?  Sure getting their SLA up-front is an important piece of the puzzle, but I want to know what the data actually shows.  As in show me the numbers. 

What are the most frequent calls? E-mails?  How do you define what is high risk, medium, low and so forth? How many support people do you have?  What are your support hours?  Is your support free? 

How are your support people trained?  Do you have any testing that goes on with your support staff to ensure that they are meeting what is expected of them OR do you listen in to calls?   

And these are just some initial items.    Who runs your support?  How long have they been there? What are some new support approaches, options, requirements you have put into place in the last year?

I have found that the number one reason people leave, gripe or hate their LMS is tied around support.   The vendors know this, and that is why you get the most amazing, best, greatest support since the days of the Roman Empire.

“Our retention rate”

Depends on the age of the vendor.  If I have been around for six months then stating such information is foolhardy.  You need past data – hence longitudinal data.   Give me the past three years at least (if you have it).  The more years the better.

I don’t need the last 10 years, lots of things change, so for me, five years is ideal, but I can live with three and be able to sleep at night. 

Especially since the economy was out of whack for such a long period of time and still is in some parts of the world, this has to be considered.  Too many ignore that piece of the pie, which you shouldn’t.

Totally subjective here, so it is either 100% true or my house is on fire, let the blah blah burn. After all, this is a PG site.  And if you do not know that song, uh,

Bottom Line

The country say many pundits is split and is not going to get better any time soon. People who use social media to say outright lies, spew hate, disparage others for their opinions are fanning the flames. 

Granted the LMS space is no where even close to that in any aspect, but as noted above, there are cycles of similarities.

There is a lack of transparency.

Misnomers abound.

Some polling can be generalized to misinterpret or create a perception that isn’t necessarily accurate. 

In an utopian world all of this would cease to exist.

In an utopian world everyone and everything is equal. 

In an utopian world, all of us would come together.

But this is not a utopian world.

Not in politics and not in our LMS space.

Not now.

And not for the foreseeable future.

A real shame

Don’t you think?

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One comment

  1. Transparency and demonstrations of objectives is critical. eLearning247 sizes the LMS world as it is, politics too!

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