Platinum Picks for 2021

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Growing up, Platinum always seemed this word, that well, I couldn’t really figure out. Oh sure, I experienced it in Chemistry (why are Chem teachers always so weird?). Excluding that, I was left in a daze.

When my sister got engaged her ring was platinum. At that moment, I knew that platinum must mean pricey, not everyone will receive it, and that elite had to fit in there somewhere (you have to know my sister to understand).

There are gold picks. Best in Class picks – I have them as well as an award category. Silver picks, never though Sapphire picks, which uh, yeah, definitely would be odd.

A Platinum pick though, well, that should say something beyond just gold, or silver, or ruby or whatever.

Platinum is an award that says “okay, you have a good system, but you know what, there are some things there, that take you to a whole new level, an upper tier than the rest of the industry.” It doesn’t mean, that you have the most features, or functionality (especially skills – which is a whole other ball of wax, as a whole in the industry). Nor does it mean that you are the best in selling your system or marketing it.

Platinum takes several components that as a whole, along with trend lines (a first) to identify systems that either are on their way for a wonderful 2022, or have started out and done quite a bit in less than a year (i.e. they launched early in 2021), or were elite in 2021, and stayed that way thru the end of the year.

Think of them as in the upper tier. Top 30 (out of 1,000 – my cutoff).

What played a role for Platinum

Each of these items, had points assigned to them.

  • Trend line – Where were they are the start of 2021, and where are they now – upward is clear, but what other items are playing into this – it is always a set of factors, not just one
  • Top system in 2021 awards – did they continue thru the year? Some did, some did not – which is why you won’t see CrossKnowledge here. Sure you can continue to land customers, but did you really have a sound strategy or approach? OR were you just muddling around?
  • UI/UX aligns to your target audience. If I am focusing only on FS and no other industry, will my system align to it correctly? How strong for example, is my compliance capabilities? If I pitch I am NexGen – am I really? Not surprisingly, many are not.
  • If you focus on front line workers, blue-collar – does your system have those feature sets and capabilities that meet the needs of those folks? No surprise here, many do not – they skew office workforce, and toss in a couple of items, that uh, are still office workforce driven.
  • Are you hitting your roadmap? This is major. Yes there are always variables that are beyond a vendor’s control, but a vendor should meet at least 70% of their roadmap. Bonus: where those features you were focusing on for your roadmap make strong business sense around learning and training in 2021?
  • Features and Functionality – What percentage of my RFI template on the functionality tab did you achieve? The same on Skills – which again as a whole, the industry is really in the low percentiles.
  • Learning System Focus – this means if you are focusing on Enterprise, what in the system says that? If you are heavily focusing on customer education – again, do you have everything that you need to really do well in that market? No surprise, many vendors do not.
  • Metrics – How robust? This plays a big role for the 2022 awards, especially for the top 10, but for the Platinum, it still is a factor.
  • Are you all included or add-on?
  • Company culture – It may not seem like a big deal, but I can tell you first hand, it does. If you only knew.
  • Are you in the Customer Excellence Pledge program? I’m thrilled that some of the vendors who are in the Platinum level are – they are committed to checks and balances with a stringent program. Those who did, should and did receive more points for support.

The Platinum Picks are from around the world. I didn’t focus on X country versus Y country. I focused on the system.

Country Call Out

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Netherlands
  • Denmark
  • England
  • India
  • Israel
  • United States
  • Italy
  • Germany
  • France
  • Sweden

Introducing the Platinum Picks – Roll Call

In alphabetical order.

Vendors who signed the Customer Excellence Pledge, a stringent support certification program, are noted by (CEP). These vendors adhere to a checks and validation program throughout each year, to ensure that you receive elite support, beyond someone just telling you that. Please remember the number one reason why people leave/hate their learning system is lack of support.

If the system is on the FindAnLMS.com platform it will be noted as (FAL). By accessing FAL you can learn more about each vendor, more details, user ranges, price ranges, implementation times, and features. You can compare them, save them as favorites, even request a quote.

Vendors are not required to be on the platform for consideration for any rankings, awards, etc. The goal of FAL is to list the best systems in the world – it is our foundation, and what makes FindAnLMS unique in the industry.

  • Absorb LMS (CEP), (FAL)– To really take the system to a whole new level, I recommend the following to buy (Absorb LMS plus Infuse, plus Engage, plus Analyze). If you want a strong built-in authoring tool, that can get close to a commercial one, then add Create LI. While I wish Absorb offered a learning suite where all these mods were included at no additional charge, at this time, that is not the case. Still, the Analyze – advanced analytical data is outstanding, and far surpasses what Absorb LMS currently has – so I recommend it, even if you choose not to buy the other options.
  • Access LMS (FAL) – #1 system for the financial services market in 2021. It is adding some new capabilities in the upcoming quarter, which is a huge win.
  • Acorn LMS (FAL) – Not well-known outside of APAC. Screams potential.
  • Agylia (CEP) (FAL) – Always has been mobile focused and driven. In this past year, the system has pushed itself up another level with functionality and capabilities, especially in CPD.
  • Cornerstone Learning (FAL) – I recommend buying Cornerstone PXP (name may change) along with Cornerstone Learning and Content Anytime (which you receive, but you still have to purchase the 3rd party content – via an all you can “access model”). If you want to turn Cornerstone Learning into a TXP – then add Careers module too. PXP is Cornerstone’s LXP. Cornerstone Learning has scored in my NexGen Grid the last two years, in the leader side. For 2021, I can tell you that it will achieve this again, with an extensive level of NexGen capabilities. This is noted because sadly the moniker of “Traditional” has stuck, and the system is far from that.
  • Degreed (FAL) – A TXP (Talent Development plus LXP – I changed the term “talent development to TXP” to reflect those vendors who meet all the reqs to be a TD system, so interchangeable terms). – The opportunities module is extra, but worth it – if you are mapping skills to job opportunities within the company. They have an advanced metrics module coming soon. No word yet on if it is an additional cost or included. This is a top tier system.
  • Docebo (FAL) – This is the Learning Suite, but you do not get everything included in said suite. Rather, Learn plus Content is a bundle – the starter you will need. Content – still requires you to purchase the 3rd party content – the most popular being an “all you can view and access”. The digital coaching, content curation, ask an expert is an add-on (additional yearly cost) to Learn. The add-on is wonderful, so a definite buy, if that is something you want.
  • As for the rest of the suite – Learning Impacts is far better data visualization wise than what is out of the box for Docebo’s Learn. However, I’d recommend Learning Analytics as the key buy for advanced analytical data. You can even tie in your other data streams from salesforce, BI tools, heck just about anything. It’s impressive. Recommendation: Learn plus Discovery, Coach and Share add-on; buy Learning Analytics mod and ask for Content (it comes with Learn).
  • D2L (Corporate) (CEP) (FAL)– This system gets better ever year. Extensive functionality that is not mentioned nearly enough in their marketing or site, thus many folks are unaware. The system has multi-tenant, digital coaching with video skills validation, Grids and so much more.
  • EdCast TXP (CEP) (FAL) – #1 Learning System for 2021 (2021 awards), continues its strong capabilities and frankly everything else throughout the year. Skills DNA, Skills Studio are the latest feature sets, and EdGraph is now included (a BI – business intelligence – component). One of the few systems in the industry, that can do a complete deep configuration, that goes beyond what you see or can do. That is a lot. The offer customer academies (for customer education), may be an additional fee (depends on use case).
  • Eurekos (CEP) (FAL) – Lots of capabilities, including one feature that no other CE focused system offers today – actually no one in the learning system space offers it. That feature launches late Q4. Skills is coming in 2022.
  • Fuse (CEP) (FAL) – The UI/UX on the learner side, isn’t similar to anything else you will see – and as a result, may not align. But if you see “groups/communities” as an essential core, with learning and all the other training and knowledge goodies wrapped within it – well.. Only system today, where you can ask questions in the search and view content – similar to what you can and what folks do when they search the web. Thus – what do I need to become a graphic artist? – pulls up the content tied to that question. Rather than the usual – “graphic artist” that so many systems follow. The metrics is in the top two – best I’ve seen in 2021. BI power that comes with the system at no additional charge.
  • Gyrus Aim (CEP) (FAL) – Scored high for a reason – does an exceptional job with capabilities and support across the board. Plays very well in Large Enterprise and Enterprise.
  • IMC Learning Suite (FAL) – You get a lot with the IMC suite. More well known in Europe, not so much elsewhere.
  • Intellum (FAL) – Customer Education focused system, that plays heavy in the tech space – but is not limited there. This is a robust system, which surprisingly has a lot of skills capabilities even though that is not common in the CE focused market (its changing – i.e. the market). You can even white label/custom label the mobile app (an additional fee) to your brand. Please note – you must have at least 4,500 active/end users for the platform. That is Intellum’s minimum.
  • Instilled LXP (FAL) They are definitely more of a learning platform. Accepts any type of content including SCORM, AICC, xAPI, videos, PDFs, links and so forth. Watershed LRS is on the back-end. Comes with a video editing tool and so much more. A hidden favorite.
  • Juno Journey (FAL) – A TXP. Interests still plays an essential role, which I see as a must in today’s business environment. UI/UX is definitely different, but it is a system, I can see learners really liking.
  • LearnAmp (CEP) (FAL) – Feature-rich, UI impressive system. The latest capabilities include an enhanced recommendation skills level engine whereas learners receive recommendations for content, event (ILT & vILT). On top of that, it identifies these skills whereas people can coach or mentor them to improve. I really like the new community option whereas you can have Instagram like feeds and LinkedIn like search directories.
  • Learnster (FAL) – I noted that it is defiantly different, and so it is. Again, not a common look, nor common approach. But, after all, who wants common?
  • MATRIX – System that offers quite a bit – continues to get better every year – this year it breaks truly through.
  • Origin Learning – Fractal LXP – How many systems can you name where navigation (within a mobile app) can be handled by your voice? With Fractal you can. This is just one of the cool feature sets this LXP with some LMS functionality offers. Big wins include agent composer – hard to explain, and they describe it a bit odd in their marketing. You have to truly see it.
  • Pluralsight Skills – Luxurious look for technical skills. This is 100% for technical skills, with experts, boot camps, sims and certification programs that go beyond what is common. The luxury aspect, well it matches the price point. Best technical skills platform on the market.
  • Raven360 (FAL) – Combo platform, that does quite a bit, including offering features such as a sim capability that isn’t just about tech skills. Can play well in the customer ed space, does fine in Enterprise.
  • Rockstar Learning Platform (CEP) (FAL) – We will..We will Rock you! Okay go with it. This is an up and coming platform, launched in early 2021. Alright breaking thru the pack. It’s a work in progress, jump on the band motorbus. Digital coaching included.
  • SAP Litmos (FAL) – If you ignore the bot that pops up on their web screens (an irritant), the system itself has a lot to offer. The metrics need an improvement, but the sytem has NexGen written all over it.
  • Schoox (CEP) (FAL) – Outstanding Talent Dev Platform (aka TXP). If you can can get buy some of the UI challenges, you will find a system that skills driven, lots of capabilities and feature-rich. Mobile apps, slick metrics – including comparison of skills to improvement of knowledge, punches the ticket.
  • SkillJar (FAL) – They push the customer ed focus thing a bit too far, since they are not at the 85% threshold, more like 50 to 55. However, this is a very solid and higher tier system. Works as a combo. Definite player.
  • SmarterU (CEP) (FAL) – Another system that slips under the radar. Has a lot to offer, and this is, IMO, the best version yet. Potential to exceed.
  • Studytube – One of the combo systems that truly is an LXP plus LMS plus built-in authoring tool. Another under the radar.
  • Thought Industries (CEP) (FAL) – #1 Learning System for the Customer Education/Partner Training market in 2021 and honestly, I’m not seeing any system steal that title from them in 2022. Soon to be released (late Q4, early Q1 2022) Atlas (a new component) just pushes it up to a whole new level. Helium (Coming in 2022), adds to it. Skills is a work in progress. Sadly, no mobile app until mid 2022.
  • Valamis (FAL) – Another vendor who pushes the customer ed angle, but then goes out and buys a vendor who plays more around employee development. That said, this is a very solid system, with lots to offer. Can custom label the mobile app to your brand. More of a combo system (audience wise). Depending on the direction, they could tap even higher in 2022.

Platinum Picks

A bit of a different angle here, rather than going down the line, as they say, this will be by group – as in who competes with who, typically – thus, if you are looking at one vendor, for say employee training in a certain space, here are the others to look at, that are truly competitors, and here are some outliers who offer XYZ but are not seen as a core competitor, rather, a possiblity.

Customer Education /Partner Training/B2B or B2C – may be referred as “extended enterprise”

The Core – These are the vendors who are at least 85% customer focus, 15% employee (thus slide under Customer Ed focused)

  • Thought Industries
  • Intellum
  • Eurekos

Others that compete heavily against them – but are more combo (usually skews more towards employees only, but think say 50-50 (50% internal employees vs 50% customers, again, so are 70-30 or 60-40 – there are exceptions – i.e. skew more customer, but not at 85% marker. These vendors do compete and win deals.

  • Absorb
  • Docebo
  • Skill Jar
  • SAP Litmos
  • Fuse
  • EdCast TXP
  • Valamis – More customer oriented.
  • Raven360 – Better suited for customer.

Splinter – Combo Systems – You are focusing on your office workforce, but still offer customer education or similar. Again, the core for your learning is your office/internal workforce.

  • Learn Amp
  • Fuse
  • Cornerstone
  • Absorb
  • D2L
  • Docebo
  • SAP Litmos
  • Schoox
  • Acorn LMS
  • SmarterU
  • Studytube
  • Learnster
  • IMC
  • Gyrus Aim
  • Agylia
  • MATRIX
  • Valamis
  • Raven360
  • EdCast TXP
  • Degreed

Systems where the focus is only your office workforce (could include front line workers, blue-collar workers).

  • Learn Amp
  • Access LMS (Specifically Financial Services)
  • Absorb
  • EdCast TXP
  • Fuse
  • Cornerstone
  • D2L
  • Degreed
  • Pluralsight Skills
  • Schoox
  • Gyrus Aim
  • Studytube
  • Learnster
  • IMC
  • Agylia
  • Acorn LMS
  • SAP Litmos
  • SmarterU
  • Origin Fractal

Bottom Line

You will see a lot of announcements. Best in Technology. Best in Showcases. Best in Hot food. You get the idea.

Platinum Picks are those systems who have met a set of variables; scoring high enough to place them into an elite level, in the learning system space.

Platinum is meant to be special.

And deservingly

So.

E-Learning 247

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