Vacillation. It is quite a strong word and one that I admit I have thought about the past few weeks. The reason is well, a bit of odd, in that for my rankings, I post them for the upcoming year (after all the Top 50 Rankings are for 2020, and come out in January). For the LXPs of 2019, the post was in late 2018.
You could argue easily that we are in 2019, and thus the rankings should reflect the year 2019, since the qualifications, etc. are from 2019, and knowing (well I do) some changes in the space with a few vendors in 2020, their will likely be a couple of key players that make an impact in 2020, because of there rollout (i.e. new, but has done other things in the e-learning industry) or they are switching over to an LXP, formally an LMS, or they are rolling out their own LXP (they already have an LMS too).
I know some vendors will think quickly of a Big Dog that must be in the rolling out part, I can tell you, that the Big Dog you are thinking about, is wrong.
Back to debating.
Which is how I decided to go with Top 10 LXPs for 2019-20, since this will serve part of the Top 50 rankings for 2020, in that there are a few LXPs from these rankings that will appear in the 2020 rankings, and the data is built upon 2019, which thus a vendor could easily say in the marketing, Top 10 for 2019 too.
At the end of it all though, to me at least, is that you are going to see who I list as the Best of the Best is this growing segment in the Learning System space.
A couple of Quick Notes
- Rankings are based on data captured over the course of the past 10 months, certain functionality which is essential parts of an LXP, such as content curation, recommendation engine (prefer algorithm, but not required), playlists/channels, and of course content, were weighted higher, than say, a vendor who has event management (which a couple have).
- LXP Template as part of the process.
- Two vendors are IMO, Digital Learning Platforms, and should pitch themselves like that, although one I know won’t because heck they prefer not to call themselves anything besides their name. The LXP industry has a couple of mega problems that for whatever reason, they are ignoring, and then gripe when as a result of one of those problems they start seeing themselves compete against LMSs.
LXPs target folks in L&D as their primary audience. The whole push for the LXP space from day one, was “learner-centric” for soft skills or personal/professional development. Well, if you add “Assigned” as an option which many have, and more are on the way, how is that learner-centric?
This, in turn, leads to Problem B
Ubiquity. They are becoming more and more of an LMS. They will counter by saying our customers do not want an LMS, but hey, we are adding features like an LMS, because our audience is asking for it (those folks from L&D who are using their LMS for only regulatory/compliance and/or assigned learning). They forget that the whole other audience, of Training, and that anyone on the planet, can use an LMS for personal/professional development too. LMSs were built for the latter, not for someone to use it as compliance only.
I’d add a third problem, which is not the vendor’s fault, rather it is folks like ATD and others, who have seminars, where the speaker pitches the amazing of LXP, doesn’t know the entire segment, the differences that exist or non-exist, but gets folks pumped up for going to an LXP.
People then seek them out, expecting this wonder solution, and then start to ask for features in an LMS, because, wait for it, that is all they know. On top of that, you have vendors in the Learning System space, who are not LXPs, but will push they offer learning experiences (on their web site, in their marketing) and even a couple say their system includes an LXP, which honestly, means they have a content marketplace – that BTW is not an LXP.
If you want an LXP or a DLP, these are the ones that you should check out.
FindAnLMS and The Rankings
The very cool thing is that most of them are on my learning system search engine, FindAnLMS, 100% free for everyone, by the way. I added a new feature just for the launch of these rankings within FindAnLMS, it is our personal concierge program, 100% free for everyone.
Personal Concierge takes the pushy salesperson out of the equation but having the vendor(s) reach to you, to provide you with additional information, insight, thru a personalized and dedicated experience.
The Power is in your fingertips, due diligence has never been easier. Best of all, the FindAnLMS concierge program is now included with every system on the search engine. All you have to do is search, uh for the system(s), not the program. : )
One last note
To be in the rankings the vendors were not required to be in FindAnLMS, nor did they pay any fee or anything like that. The rankings are based on the analysis. Who they have as clients, not a factor. Whether they are brand new for 2019, or been around since 2016, not a factor.
Before we dive into the rankings, as you examine the vendors and say to yourselves, “okay, I am going to compare them to an LMS”, I’d say, “don’t.” What I will say, is that any of these vendors can be either the main component of your HUB or a component of your HUB.
Can you have multiple LXPs in your HUB? The answer is yes.
The Top 10 LXPs (DLPs too) for 2019-20
We go in reverse order to add excitement. Please, feel free to share your butter cookies with me this holiday season. And now, back to the rankings.
#10 THRIVE (View details – including web site, contact info, save as a favorite, and listing of functionality, and other insight thru FindAnLMS) – THRIVE is a newcomer in 2019, and right out of the gate it packs a nice set of features and capabilities. Big wins – UI/UX on the learner side is fluid and fresh.
Playlists (they may call them something else) are straightforward, and not only can you see recommended content (a standard feature in an LXP), but also select playlists shown by topic of interest – via filters. On the learner profile page area, you can see skills, topics of interest for that learner, a little bit about themselves, what groups they belong too, among a few other items.
Their content side is a bit cumbersome depending on how much content is presented, besides “their content”, they have other options including “saved” and “favorite” and for those folks who think learner-centric is required, “mandatory” is an option too.
They have the majority of the standards for an LXP, with a few nice wrinkles. Definitely, someone to watch for 2020.
Product Review HERE
The UI/UX on the learner side is really quite good. Personally, I like it, enough there without being too much, and trust me, there are plenty of vendors who think that “white space” is a dangerous word, err words.
The system integrates with IBM Watson Talent, so that is a nice advantage, and extremely rare, like finding a diamond under your seat, in the industry.
Skills management is solid and something that I hope they improve upon, but it works.
Playlists are solid, especially the filter options, and although I think 500 channels (you do not have to use or have them all) is a bit too much, okay, a lot too much, I guess it depends on how much usage, folks are tapping into; the content curation is nice.
LXP standards are all there to be seen.
Absorb you say? Wait, I thought they were an LMS vendor. Well, they are, and they have another system, an LXP, called Infuse. The UI and UX follow the pattern of very modern and fluid, easy to follow and use.
Yes, you can skin it to match your look and feel (you can with most LXPs too), and yes, playlists follow the same horizontal look as everyone else, but the learning path is vertical, in its design, and that is well, different.
The system is quite good with its machine learning and offers a content marketplace. If you like or even love gamification, Infuse offers a bit of that, including a leaderboard and your current rank, and how many points you need to get to the next rank. This appears on your learner home page along with your playlists.
Certification management exists, skill management is solid.
A favorite of mine in the 2019-19 rankings, and a Top 10 learning system for 2019, this LXP continues to deliver. Feature-rich with all the LXP standards you expect, including strong content curation and a huge content marketplace with lots of content to choose from.
Mobile includes apps in Google Play and Apple iOS, and offers some cool game-based learning aspect with “Battle cards”. Gamification exists too with a leaderboard and points.
Data visualization on the administration side is fantastic. One of the best I have seen in the LXP space. A lot of data to see, all wonderful and nice.
The one downer to the entire system and one I have repeatedly told them is a bad idea, is that it is only xAPI for content. No other course standards are accepted.
They call themselves an LXP, but I’m here to tell you, they are a DLP. For folks who say, “they are a video learning platform”, I say, “Hogwash.”
Product Review HERE.
This is a very nice system, rolling out in mid-2019. The power to me is what you can do with videos, but if you have content built-in any 3rd party authoring tool that accepts all the course standards including xAPI. (The only standards it does not work with is PENS and CMI-5).
On the video side – Playlists are quite tight. Video editing is quite slick, and wow there is a lot you can do. Bookmarking on the learner side is available, you can ask questions, leave comments/notes next to the video too. Auto-transcription is a huge victory, and yes, you can edit it.
The system comes with the Watershed LRS, which adds just a whole new level of data visualization to the equation.
Content curation is very nice too.
UI and UX for the learner side are slick. The admin side, is a bit wonky, at the moment, but that is partially due to some navigation aspects, that I surmise they are working on resolving.
#5 Linkedin Learning – They call themselves, uh, yeah, okay, not sure. A learning platform, or some other moniker that works for them. In reality, though, they are a digital learning platform, and you can easily slide them into the LXP, sans the availability of an extensive content marketplace, it is basically them, and Blinklist and uh, that’s about it.
The content is both a mix of old – via Lynda.com and new, via Linkedin Learning. There are big fans of the content, but personally, I find it hit or miss. That said, this is a strong digital learning platform to consider.
Product Review is HERE.
Content curation is very strong including the playlist options. Machine learning is quite good, but I’ll admit, that I am not a fan of crowdsourcing playlists, whereas in this case, for recommending it is every one that is on the system, as in the LL Platform and not just your end-users.
I have no problem if a vendor wants to offer the full crowdsource experience (again, for every company that is on LL Platform, which goes beyond “crowdsource” some vendors use to refer to only employees at said company), as long as they make it optional, rather than here it is, and enjoy.
Trending by role, for example, is based on everyone who uses LL Platform, not just the folks at your company. Now on the back-end (Admin side), you will see just for your employees.
The administration side is pretty straight-forward. This is not a system for data visualization nor extensive metrics, because it does not exist.
Skills management is super strong. I’d say, perhaps the best out there, because it leverages a lot of data that comes from Linkedin itself.
I never could get an answer from Linkedin on the number of dead accounts that exist, nor how they can assure that the data is fresh since you are relying on people who may never update their job role for example, and which in LL job role data is utilized within it.
UI on the learner side is good, but some folks might feel a bit overwhelmed.
#4 Juno Journey (Coming soon to FindAnLMS) – Another relatively new LXP on the market, that goes from having one of the coolest front – think journey like thing, too many feature sets you have come to expect in the LXP market.
Skills management is elite including the ability to have proficients listed (and can be edited by the administrator/manager). UI/UX on the learner side is good, admin side is solid. For Playlist fans, you can create your own playlist (an LXP standard), share it with others (most LXPs do) and others can subscribe to it (not a common standard).
Sort of gives the early stage of Spotify from that regard and I wish more vendors dived into that angle of subscribing to end user’s playlist, so when they update, you see the updates, etc.
One nice feature in their robust machine learning is the ability to can scan documents, courses, content, audio and video files and produce text results in a transcript or similar items. This is a relatively new machine learning feature in the learning system space, so it is nice to see it as part of the platform.
Video management could be better, and the system does not use mobile apps i.e. via Google Play or Apple, rather they go the Progressive web app route. While I like PWAs, from a consumer standpoint, it is better to leverage the native apps, especially with on/off synch (and yes it can be done via a PWA, but it is not a simple process, and most folks are used to seeing “apps”).
Juno is one system to watch. A disruptor in the making? Well, when you are talking about a content marketplace with 36 providers, including the well-known and lesser but still very nice content ones, yeah, I’d say that.
The Top Three (The suspense is killing me)
I’ll say it right out of the gate, Degreed has improved in the right way. I love the bookmarklet capability, where you can just drag the bookmarklet to your browser header bar and off you go to capture pages, etc. that you find on the web and place back into the system.
From a standard feature set, Degreed has them all. On the Learning Environment side, the system has nearly ever feature, that I have on my template. Skills management is quite robust, a strong suit for them, although by far one of the coolest components Skills Review is an additional fee. Personally, I think that is a mistake.
Machine learning is very good, but they continue to do the biggest irk of them all, were to receive “better/more accurate” recommendations, you have to “complete” the content for the algorithm, which defeats the entire purpose of why WBT (e-learning ) was created. You are not required to “complete” but then, your recommended content is somewhat misleading, because in reality, the system should recognize that X person is going into one specific area numerous times, and this recommendation should be based on that area, for example, and not on them going into the course (let’s say it has multiple chapters), of which the person never looks at, except one OR that you need to click the “complete button” that implies that you completed the content, when you haven’t, nor care to do so.
They do the same when it comes to viewing articles. The data shows it viewing an article, but there is no way to tell how long someone was on the site for example, in other words, the data is me clicking the link.
Besides a couple of hiccups (namely those, and the lack of on/off synch for their native mobile apps), there is plenty to like here.
Analytical data is solid and well-rounded. Data visualization could be better, especially for a system at this level, but most people will find it more than sufficient.
Well, they advertise a huge marketplace, be aware that again, as with any marketplace, most are fee-based, and while you can bring in freebies such as TED, it is still heavily skewed towards fee-driven (as 99% of the marketplaces in the learning system space are).
Learning Paths are very nice. UI/UX is good. For fans of assigned learning – good news, they offer it. Playlists are easy to use, and well placed on the learner side. NexGen is good, but frankly, they should be a tier 3. Right now, more in line with Tier 2.1.
By far one of the most robust LXPs on the market, and yet still under the radar in the segment. Targets the SMB/SME audience, which I really like, because so many vendors ignore the less than 1,000 employees, let alone 500 employees, and focus only on the upper mid-market and Large Enterprise. Can you go that route with Learn Amp, absolutely, but for those the under 1,000 crowds, here is one system that actively seeks you out.
UI/UX on the learner and admin side is quite good. One of the first LXPs to offer classroom management functionality (which is beyond rare) and event management (extremely rare). Content curation is quite good, playlist options are nice too.
The content marketplace is a plus too. The system comes with an LRS but has yet to maximize its full potential with the analytical side of the house. Still, there is more than enough for most people to find worthwhile. Data visualization exists too. This is a very extensive system, but if there was a minus, they still do not have any mobile native apps (on the roadmap for 2020).
Accepts most course standards including SCORM.
If you are someone who says, you know I wish I could find an LXP that can be a standalone without ever to buy an LMS, well, good news, because Learn Amp is that LXP.
Drum Roll – Number One… One..One… (please use your own sound effects, I am)
Powerful, yet potent. Rejuvenated, yet relaxing. A place to take the kids! In all seriousness, this is a very robust NexGen LXP, that will deliver what you want. Playlists are very good, strong content marketplace, lots of API integrations (many LXPs have this option too), UI/UX is quite good on the learner side.
The administration side is solid but needs a few tweaks, and I’d argue isn’t as strong as the rest of the platform.
Machine learning is very good, and if you ignore the marketing spin they overuse too much, you will see a system that delivers what you want it to do.
They are the only LXP to have over 98% of the functionality in my LXP Template. Which, you know to me, is very impressive.
There they are.
The Top 10 for 2019-2020.