I love information.  Knowledge.  Insight.  Acquiring facts and ideas from one publication to the next.

Every day, I read cover to cover The New York Times, Washington Post and LA Times.  It’s an addiction.

But as you can probably figure out, I do not stop just there.  I hit the net, and search.  I dive into the e-learning industry, specifically the LMS world and see what others do not see.  

I want to know.

Who is out there? And why are people going and using it for their learning?

? Is it the UI/UX? Features? Technical and Security? Support and Training? Specific verticals and/or niches?  Learner driven, admin driven or both?  Maybe it is forward thinking or mobile, social, gamification, analytics or reports.

Or just maybe it is all. Every bit. 

Diamonds in the Rough

Over the past few years, I’ve found several diamonds, jewels out there.  Some system that is rarely known but offers such a pop and a “holy moly” that others need to check it out.

For the 2017 Report, I’ve found a few more of these jewels. The vendors who are not necessarily on the top of everyone’s tongues.

And along the way, I located the best of the best.  In fact, the Top 50 for 2017 are the best of the best, based on my criteria, my factors, weights and so on.

Before jumping into my Top Five LMSs for 2017. 

I wanted to list a few items I considered (the report goes into more detail and includes a cool graph – visual fans, unite!).

  • UI/UX learner and admin; you can have the greatest product out there, but if the learners can’t access the courses or figure out how to use the system; and the admins are befuddled, then this is an area to fix.  Yet, a lot of vendors do not.  Especially on the admin side. 
  • Functionality.  Self-explanatory. While it does slide into the UX/UI, it has components that stand alone.
  • Learning Environment – Extremely important.  And ties back into that UX (user experience).   I don’t care if you call your system that first “technobabble engagement platform for humans,” it better have a learning environment that uh, you know, focuses on learning. 
  • Features.  Across the board.  The standards of any system have to be there.  If you wonder what those are, feel free to search out a previous post, I list them there.

I also look at where the system has been (related to features), where it is going, and it’s track record.

Are they looking at the industry as a whole? Do they explore or just focusing on what their clients want in a system? 

If the LMS pitches themselves as ideal for compliance, it better have the features that are not the basics for compliance but are beyond that (as it relates to compliance and regulatory). 

Most vendors have an audit trail.  Big whippie.   Not everyone has digital signature on a mobile device.  Nor built-in document management.

  • Within the features piece, I look at mobile, social, gamification BUT also look at the newbies showing up – deep learning, content curation, coaching/social mentoring, video (inc. P2P, video streaming, video/webcam assessment/coaching, etc..) 
  • If you have legitimate data visualization, I’ll find it. 

And do not think that showing your data as a pie chart or graph, qualifies you as data visualization from the “ideal” standpoint.   Just as driving a soapbox car doesn’t qualify you as a race car driver. 

  • Technical and Security.  This is from the system standpoint. 
  • Support and Training.  A lot to note in here.  The most interesting tidbit is that there are vendors who know their support is awful, yet continue to do nothing to resolve it, except put a band-aid on it.  

What means nothing to me (but to a vendor, different story)

Hype

  • Mobile first! – You better have on/off synch,  native apps for iOS, Android and a bonus for Kindle (but it won’t hurt you if you do not) multiple mobile apps , one that covers only social, another for courses/content, etc.   Mobile responsive?  Everyone does and has that.   
  • Having social, some form of it.  I better see something that knocks it out of the park.  A blog, profile, wiki won’t do it.   Social Playlist?  I’m salivating.
  • Everyone hates their LMS garbage.  I hear this all the time.  My response?  You picked the wrong LMS. 
  • Number of individual users.  Not a factor in my assessment.
  • Number of clients.  If you are brand new or relatively new, I’m not expecting a lot of clients.  Now, if you have been around since 2004 and have 30 clients that is another story – but regardless, it is not a factor in my assessment.    
  • Award winner from other analysts, research firms, etc.  – Not a factor in my assessment. 

The Final Five

#5.  Docebo

Review my criteria and you will see why Docebo enters into the Top Five. Their coaching/expert module is outstanding, although I wish it was included as part of the system, rather than as a separate entity.  

They have a partnership with Lectora Online, create courses and whammo they go right into the LMS.  You can add apps with a click, content too.  Offers various pricing tiers including Enterprise.    Strong platform for B2B/B2C.   

#4 ExpertusOne

 Fantastic solution for Enterprise and plays well in B2B/B2C. 

The dynamic links capability where you can send a link to someone via e-mail (outside of the system) and that person (e-mail receiver) can open up the e-mail and start taking the course within the e-mail (actual popup player) AND the data gets pushed back into the LMS – it WOW factor. 

I note it often when I speak as a future feature with a vendor that has been around several years – and boots that pitch from new LMS vendors that the “traditional” are lacking this and that. 

Sorry, Charlie, traditional is a marketing term and besides that, ExpertusOne is not your Dad’s Oldsmobile (you knew, I had to toss that in there).

Mobile continues to be strong with a voice assistant (they are going to expand the feature capability in 2017), geolocation (first vendor to do this) and oh, solid with video. 

#3 Unicorn LMS

The name is changing from SkillsServe,  and the product stayed the same. Wait, scratch that. 

It has gotten way better.  A new UI/UX makes a huge difference for this very strong system for compliance/regulatory (regardless of your vertical). 

If you are in financial services mind you, this is a system you should be looking at.

Speaking of looking at, Minds-I which just rolled out, continues to give me pause. Actually adulation, because by far it is the coolest thing I’ve seen this year. 

A separate mobile app that be a standalone (so if you want to go alone with it, or use it in conjunction with your own LMS, you can) OR can be used with the LMS.

Unicorn has also unleashed two other mobile apps, one just for social, one for courses/assessments.  They have one for CPD too (been around for a couple of years). 

Expect Unicorn to add more mobile apps in the year to come, along with additional enhancements.  Yes, the system will too.  I special find for anyone, best for employees (aka as internal audience as well as internal with B2B).

#2 Growth Engineering

Fun, fun, fun in the beautiful beaches of Windsor. 

Assuming that is, you put sand in your backyard, invited a few employees or customers over and jumped into this power packed LMS whereas gamification is inter-wrapped thru out. 

Social has increased two-fold, and mobile is continuing to improve.  One of the first vendors to offer the ask an expert as a feature, and by far one of the coolest systems on the market.

Feature rich driven, so make no mistake that this is more than just a “gamification” LMS.  Offers a performance center (think TM) included at no additional charge. Don’t want to use it?  No prob, just click it off.  

The system includes Genie, a strong authoring tool, created by Growth Engineering.  Create game based learning and apply it to enhancing your training.

The system is best for employees and internal company B2B. 

Plays very well in mid-size and Enterprise.

#1 eLogic Learning.

They finally did it.  They finally pushed forward and achieved the top of the ticket. 

Always a very good system, it lacked some tweaks here and there, especially with the UI (a previous big minus with me).

Not anymore.  The UI has improved dramatically. The features and functionality continue to impress and let’s face it, any vendor who had over 90 updates (enhancements) in 2016 alone, tells you something about them.

In a good way.  I love this system.  Truly.  Who knows I might give them a Valentine, just in time for the greeting card holiday.  Okay, I won’t go that far, but this is a system that is a blast for your learners and equally customers.

Big Wins

  • True personalization – whereas each learner can have their own theme (admin decides).  Widgets here apply as well. 
  • Enhancements to social and mobile coming in 2017.  We are not talking just the basics here, but full throttle.  What I have seen was more than enough to tell me, they continue to drive head on.  And I like it (the feature set).
  • UX/UI – I note this again, because it makes a massive difference for any learner/admin.  eLogic not only hits it out of the park, but requires you to jump into your car and chase it. 
  • Video is strong.  One of the very first vendors where you can upload your video and the system automatically converts it to SCORM 1.2.  Hello – video course with tracking.  Video streaming BTW doable too.
  • E-commerce is robust.  If I’m B2B/B2C this is what I am seeking.  While I can’t say what I know is in the pipeline, I can tell you that it will push e-commerce.
  • Support and Training. YOWSA, in a plus way.  Actually has a training department.  Believe it or not, that is a rare in this industry.
  • Technical and Security.  Outstanding too.   I’d trust them with my data, in an instant. There are some vendors, I’d be hesitant to say that.  Not with eLogic.
  • Authoring tool is the dominKnow Claro product (integrated).  I should note that Claro is my #1 authoring tool for 2017.

Offers various pricing models to best meet various types of business, i.e. B2B/B2C, employees, employees with B2B. 

There is a lot more about this system to discuss, but in order to see it you will need to purchase The Top 50 LMS report for 2017.  

BUY TODAY

Speaking of which, to learn way more about all the systems not just in this post, but last weeks and the others not listed, but in the Top 50, you need to buy the report.

 

  • Over 700 pages long.  Easy to access, read, download, and even talk too – uh, but it will not respond. 
  • Includes executive summary and criteria
  • 45 detailed profiles.  As in past reports #46-50 are just links to the vendor site. Why do I do this?  Just a quirk with my report.  Call me eccentric.  Others do.  : )
  • Online component will not be live when the report comes out, but once it does you will get access to it (if you buy the report) and create a customized version of the Top 50. 
  • Only $699.  Yes, I could charge more for this year’s report, but I still believe that the price of information should be affordable, not outrageous.  If you want outrageous, come to California, we are notorious for price gashing.

I will be offering a special discount for my social media followers, that announcement will come via Twitter and involves of social collaboration.

What it will not have

This year there is no top three listings for various verticals, or features such as mobile, social, video (new), nor next gen systems. 

Rather, I will be posting these in next week’s blog and in my Linkedin group, E-Learning 24/7.  

Bottom Line

Above are the Top Five LMSs for 2017.

They are not alternative facts.

Rather

they are real.

Best of all,

There are more to come,

in the Top 50 LMS Report for 2017.

E-Learning 24/7