What I have Learned (in the last 2mths)

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The old adage, take time to smell the roses, I always found odd.  I mean I understand its “meaning”, but I thought to myself, who has the time, to just sit back, relax and well, smell flowers – besides say my late Diego (dog) and now sometimes Cali (dog) who I think is really smelling them for squirrel scents.

Whenever I talk to folks, I often say pre-pandemic and now, to represent what the industry was like in the past, and well, what it is now and going forward  (I always note it as for the rest of the year).  I dislike saying “Post-Pandemic”, because until a vaccine is made available for the masses, the virus isn’t taking a holiday or going away to visit Mars.   It is here to stay. 

Any data from any research firm that presented CAGR or revenue projections for 2020, that was pre-pandemic, can go right into the trash can.  It’s worthless data, because no one foresaw the pandemic when they were writing up their forecasts and projections. 

That’s just a fact.  I myself, spent the past 1.5 months scouring data numbers from a global perspective on the B2B/B2C market for financial projections and always had to clarify “pre, now, and project into early 21.   I feel confident on the numbers and the verticals/industries most likely to take a hit, and not necessarily rebound as quickly as folks would like or want.

For L&D (employee) wise projections, I am still working on that side of the data house, with a financial forecast and won’t have one ready until the end of the month.  And as with anything, there is always caveats, after all, no one is Nostradamus, and if those folks who always want to tell you the “Future” at carny shows are so good, how come none of them, ever win the lottery?  I’m just saying – be honest, you have thought it too!

Learned

#1 – Many vendors in the EdTech market have done a poor job, helping their school clients during the Pandemic.  Many reached out to the school and asked if they needed any assistance, and some went further with providing tutorials, helping teachers and what not.  But very very few, offered or even provided training or tutorials to the parents (who are having a lot of problems).   I know of parents at one school district here in LA, who have told me, that they can’t access certain features in their parent portal, because no one ever explained how to do so.  The school’s tech lab person provided them with a user name and password and that is it.

If you do any cursory search you will find that the whole learning system experience, as a whole, has been awful in the Edtech space – from a child – the student, and parent perspective.  It does no one any good, when this occurs and no wonder, more folks enjoy the bash of e-learning as a result.

I do wish to recognize though a couple of vendors who went beyond for their school clients – D2L, Instructure and itslearning.  NEO by Cypher Learning did a solid job too. 

At the university level, EdTech systems fared at a so-so level.  Professor re-training? Mixed. Student tutorials? Mixed.  Getting students at that level to be excited about taking online content? Awful – from the university perspective, that is to say, Academia really took a back seat here when it came to what was possible with e-learning and interactive experiences to their students (topic related) and what was/is actually being done.   Just when you thought, there is no way any lecture could get any worse (as you sat back in the days of your schooling), you should check out what some “e-learning” sessions were like now.

#2.  Not fully understanding the remote workers learning approach.  For years, research has shown that most people who are salaried, access a learning system, outside of the workplace.  But for many companies, whose employees were working from home, that data point was lost (even though there are companies who tell employees to access on their own time).   The result – quite a bit of task driven learning, which just isn’t effective. 

#3.  A survey of LXP vendors, found that overall, they are seeing better than expected sales for early Q2 (fiscal calendar year), compared to all other types of learning systems (i.e. LMS, Learning Platform, Sales Enablement and so forth).  While it is true that not every LXP vendor is experiencing this, it is clear that the pack to starting to break out.

It reminds me of what occurred in the authoring tool space many years ago, where you had a couple of leaders, then the mass, followed by those coming up in the rear.

#4 LXP Pack Status

If the sales data continues for this quarter, and stays even at similar for the next two quarters, what you will see (okay, not really “see”), is the following:

  • Leaders – Three or four that really stand out.  The top two will be customers/sales (never assume that having 1,000 customers versus 850 customers, means that at 1,000 that company has more sales, because it isn’t always the case).  By having the financial resources, they can invest more in R&D, and internal resources (ppl) too.
  • Mid of the Pack – Could they jump up into the leader Quad? Absolutely, but innovation, thinking out of the box has to take a priority here, and not following what everyone else is doing nor relying only on what your clients are asking/wanting.

If your goal is to mimic an LMS, then I can tell you, that is really a bad goal. Similar to those goals you set at the beginning of a new year, one of which is to stop stealing your neighbor’s newspaper, only to realize that if you stop, what will you read when your spouse is trying to get your attention?

  • Bottom Feeders – Yes, they will have customers.  They will invest in R&D, but they will never get to upper mid of the pack level.  No vendor will ever tell you they are struggling or low mid-pack or worse.  Everyone has big name clients (usually a department/division, unless the vendor says “we are the only LXP” for the entire company or customer base”), so you can’t rely on that.  

#5 I’m just like you – LXP Style

First came ubiquitous on the LMS side of the house, and now more and more LXPs are becoming so similar to each other, that nothing really surprises me anymore.  Okay, I shouldn’t fully say that because CK Connect with their personality assessment angle, was a pleasant surprise and not something I’ve seen with any other LXP, but so many of the same features and capabilities are showing up, it can easily become white noise.   Innovation is down across all learning system types, and has been for years,  if there was ever a time, to change the path, this is it. 

#6 Buy-Buy

The buying spree continues, as learning system vendors and non learning vendors (including PE firms) are buying up other e-learning solutions including authoring tool, content provider, learning systems – across all types and tools.

What has yet to happen, and to me would make the most sense is a learning system vendor (LMS, LXP, SEP, etc.) acquiring a digital coaching platform, skills management platform and/or online proctoring vendor. 

Expect to see more acquisitions in the coming months and in a specific total sales range – for learning systems (Sorry, can’t disclose). 

#7 vILT – Plan now, start to find, and begin hiring (for the training session)

Face to Face (physical ILT) is not going to happen to at least 2021 for the majority of companies who conduct ILT.  This is based on three key factors (on why it won’t happen sooner)

a.  Even with “openings” and businesses being open for their employees in the next few months, many employees (who are currently working remote) are not going to return to the office, they will prefer to work remote.  In the U.S. Congress (okay the Senate) is discussing a bill to limit i.e. make it beyond difficult – for an employee to sue if they get sick at their company’s offices.  Right now, they can sue – and the employer is liable.  I am unsure of the status in other countries, but here in the U.S., it should cause employers to take notice.   What isn’t in discussion is what will happen if a guest comes to the workplace and in our scenario is providing training.  They get the virus. Head back to wherever, and it spreads.   

Regardless, until there is a vaccine, and if your employer doesn’t force you to come into the office, remote is where it is at. 

b. 3rd party presenters/instructors/experts may not be too thrilled to come to a location, where they might get the virus. Plus, the whole way the session is to be presented has to change.  Hard to gauge level of interest, when the person’s face is partially covered by a mask. 

c. Setup has to drastically change.  No more audience seating – next to one another. Round tables? Goodbye. Unless, only three to a table, and spread out.  Try to do computer training, which tables next to each other, and little space to move around.  And we aren’t even getting into the hand sanitizer, plastic guards and so forth.

If you are planning/had plan to offer ILT, go vILT but start to think about when and whom with the topic identified or in process.  Hire sooner rather than waiting to see how it turns out.  If you have someone specific in mind, recognize they might be booked already or are starting to book. 

Even if you plan to use say Big Name Entity presenters of Sales for example, and you love Fred DogFace, a great trainer in the past, FDF (as his friends call him), might be booked out.  Then what will you do?  Hire someone else? If yes, Steve is available. But only on Tuesday between 9 and 10 a.m.

Bottom Line

Every day is a learning experience.  A learning moment. 

And you do not need to stop and smell the roses.

Petunias will do.

E-Learning 24/7

Big news – Starting in just 10 days, will be my new Virtual Presentation Series. Each week, we dive into a L&D, training, e-learning topic. From Systems to Best Practices. Insight, knowledge and latest research.   Details coming.  Always free to attend and view later (via a recording).