85. That sounds about right. Initially, the list was 100, but culling has begun and for some, that meant, well, why be an “in the box” kind of the person, when being a bit “outside” of the box is so much more fun.
85. It does seem like such a large number, but when you realize that there are over 1,300 learning systems around the world, 85 isn’t such a big number. Though, if you know only say five, then yeah, 85 is a big number.
Each year, I publish or in some aspect of publish, the Top 50 for the following year, and this will be no different, but unlike in the past, I decided to present the 85 who are under consideration for the 50 spots. There are no rankings in this post, so please do not get irked and be like, “Where are the rankings?” – this post is a listing of the 85, not a ranking of #1 to #85.
People always inquire why I like one system over the next, and how their system (if they are a vendor) is not on the list or if a customer, how the system they purchased is not on the list. I always say there are a lot of factors and criteria involved in a- my Top 50 rankings and b- in seeing so many systems, you – okay, I, can quickly say, “there is something here, or this is good, or, yowsa – someone bought this?”
People – consumers – pick systems for a variety of reasons – yes use case is the key, but then, many systems can achieve the same results with that specific use case you think is unique. So then it comes down to functionality, but again, nowadays about 80% is the same functionality – depending on the markets themselves – LMS to LMS, LXP to LXP, and so on.
Support plays a huge role. And is one that is often overlooked when folks are considering a vendor. I hear the “they never called us back,” “they promised and never delivered,” and the “they ignore us”, and yet, I equally have heard folks say that then renew with the same vendor. Why? Because they do not want to go thru the experience of looking again.
Data migration is not a factor, I mean if that is what is keeping you from jumping from one system to the next, it shouldn’t be. You can always negotiate with your new vendor to migrate the data (and content if need be) from your old vendor and they work together to get it done – leaving you to concentrate on everything else.
A built-in authoring tool is listed as an inquiry with any learning system vendor, but it a vendor doesn’t have one, they are not eliminated as a result. A built-in authoring tool is basic. The learning system vendor is not an expert in authoring tools (99% of the time), and thus the terminology, and approach is all over the place.
Plus, I always recommend going 3rd party authoring tool, even if your system comes with one. I base this on experience, and with SaaS tools today, it makes even more sense to go this route.
Multi-Tenant is relevant to me though, speaking of features, especially if the system is B2B, regardless if it is an association, client partners or customer training. If you charge extra for tenants, it is a ding in my book. They should be free.
There are vendors who give you the parent (main system), then a child or two for free (the sub-tenants), then charge in bundles for more. Here is an amazing hint – it is a ripoff.
If you employee-based only system, then not having e-commerce isn’t a factor that hurts you.
But I do expect them to have some functionality that I wouldn’t expect to see in say a system that is 100% customer training only, and vice versa.
The Process and Criteria
I’ll hold off on this area until the Top 50 rankings come out, in terms of the details, and whatnot, although I did give some initial pieces in the previous section.
What I can say is that my approach and processes are different than many of my contemporaries, which is why, when folks say, blah blah is on SuperWidget rankings, but not yours, I respond, that my methodology is different, just as theirs is too.
For this year’s Top 50 for 2020, every system in the rankings can be in the center of your hub.
Each of the vendors listed below received (and they can attest to this) an extensive packet to complete. It contained
- A functionality template containing over 400 features with details requested
- Support and training sections
- Mobile functionality – what (if the vendor has an app) can the app do and provide to the learner, admin (if applicable), etc.
- Who are the content providers in your marketplace (granted, not every vendor has a marketplace, but honestly they should, even if it is still by phone. I never understand vendors who spin, we are not in the content business – really? Then what do you plan on having sit on your system? Legos?)
- Questions covering implementation, product roadmaps, and client influence are listed too. I totally understand listening to your customers, but you cannot rely on them to know what new functionality is needed if they themselves do not know; nor should they drive your roadmap.
Yet too many vendors do, and off down the rabbit hole they go, ignorant of the fact, this will not end up well. Some vendors rely too heavily on the larger size clients, then the others, and I have seen it time and time again, it is very obvious when you look at the system over a period of a year, what is transpiring. Which is why I always inquire when I suspect an influence, with a vendor.
The Packet included numerous questions (mostly open essay) for each vendor to complete. There were a few financial questions (that are not made public). A demo plays a role, as it should and from there, I’m jotting down a lot of information. I always say to a vendor, if I ask a lot of questions or seem piercing in my inquiries do not look at it as a bad thing, rather, look at it, in terms of my level of interest (high) and trying to see how you respond. On the other hand, if I say nothing, then uh, that is definitely not a plus.
Each vendor must also produce various screenshots in the packet too and for 2020, including a video demo of their system or some part of their system (limited to a few minutes) which is a requirement. The Top 50 will have their demo videos on my Findanlms.com site’s “vendor video platform” as playlists (in Jan. 2020). Those vendors who can be found in FindAnLMS, the learning system search engine platform, will be referenced via a digital badging and my analysis in each Vendor listing.
Machine Learning is all the Rage
When I examine functionality, I want to know to everything there is to know about that function. Thus, with machine learning, or spun by some vendors as AI, saying it is one thing, what it can actually do is another, and how it was trained is important as well.
It is easy to get caught up in the marketing spin and be driven by that spin as the reason to buy a system. But as an analyst, you have to make sure it isn’t about spin, rather it is about the system itself.
Under machine learning, nine statements are presented to each vendor. Playlists or channels depending on the vendor’s vernacular, 12, and the same with skills management – also 12.
What this means to you is that the analysis is very in-depth, with some categories weighed higher than others, clearly, for example, administration functionality should be weighted more than say instructor functionality.
What you won’t find
The 85 vendors below did not pay a fee for their application, nor any fee frankly. They were contacted by me after analysis for the past several months. So to be clear, no monies exchanged hands or e-mails or anything.
Before the List, a few additional points
As I have done the past few years, the vendors in the Top 50 rankings (those that make it) are placed in comparison, which means, that if you are targeting small business, you are not compared to someone who targets 10,000 plus employees; nor if you are B2B customer training compared to an employee-only system.
If you are an LXP (rename to Digital Learning Platform please) then you are compared to other LXPs, and so on.
The challenge this year though was “Enterprise”, which nowadays is all over the place in terms of number of minimum end users. If a vendor pushes Enterprise, and they see Enterprise as 1,000 or more people, and another vendor sees Enterprise at 5,000 or more end users (Enterprise is referring to employees), then both vendors slide into that one category of Enterprise. And from there, the subsets begin, with the first being the verticals each vendor is in.
If they have multiple verticals, then I look at the top three, with the first being the initial break. Some vendors will take you if you can tie your shoes, but even a vendor such as that, will have one dominant vertical share of whatever, maybe the tie shoe and chew gum segment.
I mention this because there are some vendors on the list below, that I am sure will get some eyebrows raised. But I can tell you that every vendor presented below has earned their right to be in the 85.
What the 85 do not know yet, until just now, is that those who make it to the top 20, will be presented with five use cases – common use cases that many folks ask (each time thinking they are the only ones with that said use case).
They then will need to respond to the use cases. This is brand new to the criteria, and something I am quite excited about, because you – when the report is published – will be able to see their responses in the FindAnLMS Platform with their catalog detailed listing (as a PDF you can download).
Now you can stop going, “I wonder if they can meet my use case,” and instead go, “hey, they can meet it, and they just told me how.”
Oh, there are not any EdTech systems in this year’s rankings. I am a firm believer that nearly every corporate system can work in EdTech – specifically Higher Ed. K-12? Ehh, not so much. There are a few systems whose markets include EdTech too, but in general these are systems focused on corporate – who again, many will take EdTech customers.
Moodle. I always get inquiries on why Moodle or any other free open source is not in my rankings. The simple response is that it is free code, that you, me, some firm who makes cocktails and computers, my dog Voodoo on a day he gets hands, can create a system. Sure it can be heavily customized and in all honesty, you actually paying for the resources in the end, but the code is free. If you are into free open source code, the key is finding an active community that will add new plugins for you to add. Just an fyi.
Who else is missing – that you will recognize?
A shortlist, and for some folks, they already know – just because fan favs are here
- SuccessFactors – Last year in my Turkey Awards for 2018, I think they won. I have to take a look to verify that, yep – repeat champs no less. Anyway, this is not a good system. Do not let SAP tell you that if you are a large enterprise this is the system you want and not SAP Litmos. Litmos can handle large enterprise and is a far better system. This would be like you comparing the amusement park set up for a weekend on the fairground with Disneyland.
- Oracle – No. Just no.
- Coursera – Someday I will ponder on why people just love this system so much. And then, I will look out my window at a squirrel that looks like she just ate a cat, and ponder that.
- Most TM systems that added learning as a component. Many of them are very good at the TM side of the house, learning is another matter.
As in year’s past, the analysis is based on worldwide. The reason you see more from the states, is well, there are more systems based in the U.S., than anywhere else in the world.
And this year’s list represent
- United States
- UK (England, Scotland, Northern Ireland)
Drum Roll – PLEASE
“Here they are, the magic 85…”
I have them by chunking (think micro-style), for no other reason, then stopping you from having eye glaze.
Those noted with an * (asterisk) can be found in the FindAnLMS Platform, so register today, 100% free, login and start doing a deeper dive. I strongly recommend your initial research starts with my FindAnLMS platform, where pricing, implementation time frame, user base, pdfs, videos, can be found, along with functionality filters too, and verticals were applicable.
Vendors are in no particular order. None, nada, not even alphabetical. I know, I failed that class.
In the LMS Category (sounds so official)
- D2L (*)
- Absorb LMS
- SAP Litmos (*)
- CrossKnowledge (*)
- Unboxed Technology Spoke (*)
- SumTotal Learning Management (*)
- Unicorn LMS (*)
- Thought Industries (*)
- Talent LMS (*)
- Saba Cloud (*)
- Cornerstone Learning Suite (*)
- Fuse Universal (*)
- LearnUpon (*)
- GyrusAim Learning Cloud (*)
- PeopleFluent LMS (*)
- Biz Library (*)
Take a Break – Eye Glaze Ending NOW
- Knowledge Anywhere (*)
- UpsideLMS (*)
- Instancy On-Demand (*)
- JLMS (*)
- Schoox (*)
- IMC Learning Suite (*)
- Asentia LMS (*)
- EthosCE (*)
- Topclass WBT
Glazed donuts..yummy, break time is over
- Brainier LMS (*)
- SkyPrep (*)
- MATRIX (*)
- Docebo (*)
- Workday Learning (*)
- Paradiso (*)
- Learning Pool
- Academy of Mine
- Learnbrite VR LMS
Break Time – Hammer Time too!
- Area9 Rhapsode (*)
- Abara LMS (*)
- G-Cube (*)
- Administrate (*)
- Edapp (*)
- Eurekos (*)
- glo Learn (*)
- Agylia (*)
Somewhere over the rainbow, it is no longer raining
- DialogEDU (*)
- LMS365 (*)
- Growth Engineering (*)
- Uduutu (*)
- Kokm (*)
- ePath Learning (*)
- Kallidus Learn (*)
- Learning Cart
- Meridian KSI
- Exceed LMS
- KMI Learning
- Tessello (*)
LXP Category aka Digital Learning Platforms
- Learn Amp (*)
- Absorb Infuse
- EdCast (*)
- Instilled LXP (*)
- Coorpacademy (*)
- 360Learning (*)
- Juno Journey
- Degreed (*)
- Headstream LXP (*)
- THRIVE (*)
- Filtered (*)
- Looop (*)
- Linkedin Learning
Sales Enablement Platforms – Brand new for 2020
There they are.
of the Best learning systems in the world.
Note: I did not add URL links to go to each individual system’s site. However, every vendor with an (*) next to their name, can be found in FindAnLMS and within their own category listing, you will find their contact information, including e-mail address and web site, along with all their particulars. Again, I strongly recommend using the platform, it is 100% FREE forever!