I was trying to think of a title for this post, because it isn’t your typical post. I thought first around something like the Truth they don’t want you to know, then realized that some vendors would push back and say that isn’t true, which gets back to the original statement.
Then there would be clients of some systems that would say, “That’s not true”, despite myself providing specifics because they haven’t had that experience or issue. Even though plenty of others did.
Lately I’ve heard that two popular words are being used in the business lexicon – anecdotal being one. I was trying to think why this would be even in the business lexicon which a word such as a vernacular would be better – yes, a word I like.
Words are funny that way. One word or two can mean this in our industry, and mean something completely else to clients or prospects.
Words can be interpreted by “experts” in our space, without anyone questioning the “expert” and whether they truly know the industry, because there are a lot of experts in our industry on LinkedIn, apparently. Who knew?
When folks start heading to trade shows in May in our industry, a lot of words will be tossed around by salespeople in those booths, again with them assuming you know the meaning. I have found that many salespeople themselves have no idea what those words actually mean, let alone why e-learning was created in the first place or an LMS or even what machine learning (which vendors dub as AI) is only as the data sets it was trained on.
I get why some folks just nod and agree with whatever the salesperson is saying – after all, nobody wants to appear as though “they do not know”, a common worry among all of us.
There are going to be salespeople who do not even work for the vendor. That’s right, the vendor has hired them to be at the booth taking information done and lead info especially.
You are going to have the famous we need to “Scan your badge” or can we “scan your badge”, and even if you are a prospect or interested in the system, expect less than 50% to ever contact you. For vendors, the number of lead opportunities are going to be a large number, however, two key facts do play out here. One – the average time to close a lead from a trade show, pre-COVID was 12 to 18 months. Now? Six to 12 months, with large enterprises who need mass configuration, exceeding 12 months. Two, vendors on the whole are lucky if they close one lead from a trade show, let alone two.
Are there exceptions absolutely. Just as there are exceptions to hearing crickets after a vendor does reach out.
Some vendors will qualify a prospect quickly in the booth, eyeing that badge of yours – seeing your title and where you work. I never liked that approach, because you never know who really is the decision maker, and you never know whether the person without the fancy title is the one who may be driving the whole thing.
There will be vendor salespeople who are more interested in their smartphone or chatting with other salespeople to help you. I think the word for that is indifference, although I know of another nasty word that is equally sums it up.
I like trade shows, but it always comes down to me on the following factors
- Are there vendors, who have a slick booth, but a crummy system? Too many folks eye the slick looking booth, ignoring the booth that is so-so. Placement makes all the difference in the world at trade shows. The better traffic routes cost more (with repeaters getting first choice). It also costs more for the vendor, the same with the size of the booth. There are booths worthy of checking out, that are near the back of the room, with foot traffic being underwhelming.
- Does the booth have a monitor where I can actually see the system or product – that is “live” and not a pre-filled loop? WiFi is notoriously awful at trade shows, so that plays a role, but with hot spots it can be resolved.
- Do I have to get someone’s attention, or will the salesperson make a B-line to me? I like the latter as long as they are not aggressive or assertive. An item that turns me right off is when a salesperson stands at the front end of the booth as though they are a gate keeper. It is intimidating.
- I like shows where navigation to vendors is easy to follow and find. LTUK for example, is always awful. This is not a one time issue either, it is every year. Geo-location with the app would resolve a lot, but ignoring that, they just can’t seem to figure out how to layout the floor with the signs for each aisle. Plus they always stick the big map at the back of the floor. ATD does a much better job, their app is awful – a trade show theme apparently, but the pathways are easy to navigate.
- I like it when shows give folks lunch for free. I don’t like that they forget that many people today are going all plant-based or vegan or have dairy allergies or lactose intolerance.
- I like the variety of vendors at a trade show, you will quickly pick up a theme when you look around, focus on the keywords or words they are pushing on their booths. My vibe says it will be skills (in some manner) first and foremost. AI will be there too, or NexGen. Third-party publishers will push skills, skills for the future and other items. Then there will be vendors who you wonder, whether or not they even know who is walking around these shows. I once say a vendor still pitching on-site F2F training, another – a board game. Great.
Learning Systems – I like this, but that?
- I like Cornerstone LMS, but I do not like the data visualization of the metrics. It appears dated and something I’d see if Excel. Nor do I like the administration side, simply because it is not user-friendly, and can be overwhelming.
- I like the Docebo Learn solution, but I do not like that Discover, Coach and Share – which is heavily promoted on their site is a yearly additional cost to Docebo Learn. Nor do I like that the metrics that come out of the box with Docebo Learn are poor and the visualization bad. Thus you need to purchase either Learning Impacts which has a far better visualization and metrics compared to what comes with Learn or pay for Learning Analytics which is vastly superior to all of them. I do not like that you want this? You pay extra for it. You want that? Oh, pay extra and everything is a yearly fee, not one-time.
- Speaking of all included – I like that. Nobody knows what future business disrupts will be appear, after all, nobody saw COVID-19, let alone it’s business impact then, and even now with the supply chain and inflation (yes, components due to the pandemic and an economy going from zero to full throttle). Nobody say the Great resignation ahead of time, and yet here it is. Nobody foresaw not just every day workers but also execs who will only work remote – which changes the way people can be trained. Hybrid equally so.
Let’s say you the person overseeing L&D or Training or whatever department oversees learning and training for your employees, customers, members, whomever. The next person comes in, and wants this or that, which isn’t there, because you chose a system that didn’t come with everything. Then you go to your new place, and the same issue appears and you wish it had this, but sorry that is an additional cost.
- I like Elucidat, the SaaS authoring tool, for folks new to authoring courses/content and those with limited experience. I really like that they have templates for folks who are providing customer education (many authoring tools do not). I don’t like that they lack an extensive set of digital assets including stock photos as part of their solution.
- I like domiKnow the SaaS authoring tool. It is quite robust and beginners to experts in ID can use it. I don’t like that it can be cumbersome to use, the UI/UX is challenging IMO for some folks, the newbies more so. Sure you can do less, but if you are getting this thing, why go basic?
- If I was an Instructional Designer and I was choosing between Storyline or Captivate, I’d go Storyline. Captivate is so yesterday.
- I like third party course/content providers who can explain their curation process, what they remove and what are the factors, what data they capture they can provide to a client. I like publishers who keep up with the trends, not from design wise (although some still think a Table of Contents should be optional), but from subjects and titles. I do not like content that is nothing more than a talking head in front of a green screen. Nor do I like the constant pitch of micro-learning, as something recent – it is not. I was doing it in 2000 and so were others. I do not like outdated courses, including those where everyone at the company is wearing a suit and formal business wear. Unless I am working at IBM from the 70s, I see no value here. If you say, well for FS it is different. Let’s not forget that isn’t always the case in the summer, and some FS places are going hybrid. Speaking of which, how many courses have you seen recently, where the “worker(s)” are shown at home working?
- I like learning system vendors who skill map ahead of time to any off-the shelf content/courses they sell or come with the system. It saves massive time, and says “you are the experts on this”, rather than relying solely on the admin who may not know, or the folks overseeing the system who may not know or even someone in L&D or Training who do not know.
- I like learning system vendors who offer Managed Services. D2L does. 95% of the industry, doesn’t.
- I like vendors who provide formal proposals tailored to the prospect and not just a cut and paste job. I like formal proposals that itemized all the pricing and clearly show the discount (for a three-year deal). I do not like getting a proposal that looks as though they just learned how to use crayons. Nor receiving any that are do not use spell-check.
- I like vendors who constantly train their salespeople. And who have an actual training department at their company. This may come as a shock but it is not common in the industry – the training department. As for on-going training? A mixed bag.
- I like vendors who will show me a full demo, where I can ask a lot of questions. I do not like vendors who think sending a pre-recorded video demo they recorded will suffice. Microsoft Viva Learning feels this is acceptable. I keep telling them it isn’t. I am always concerned when a vendor plays this game. What are they afraid of? Me? Mr. Sensitive?
- I like SuccessFactors – no wait, I’m kidding. Please tell me why someone would want this system? If you loved Plateau learning I can see the excitement for this solution. Okay, I do not like SuccessFactors. Could explain why SAP never sends me a birthday card. I also do not understand why a SAP salesperson has to be on a call with a SAP Litmos salesperson, if you are only interested in SAP Litmos? Which is a vastly superior system (learning wise) to SuccessFactors?
- I do not like ERP systems or HCM platforms who tell you that if you buy their learning system it will be a smooth integration and transition, then if you go elsewhere. I can tell you that isn’t always the case, plus, where is that R&D going exactly? If I sell a lot of modules which all ERPs do, and plenty of HCMs do too, Learning isn’t the primary.
A Final Like
I like that after two years from concept to actualization the first platform of FindContent – the course platform is now live and you can use it. FindContent is two platforms in one, the first to launch is our course platform, the other a search engine directory with filters, favorites, comparisons and yes a built-in course player, launches next later next month.
To start with FindContent Course Platform, please do the following
- Go to FindContent Course Platform
- Register, it will require dual-authentication – this is for your protection.
- After logging in, go to How to Guides – A series of videos I created to help you with using the platform, getting the maximum benefits of it.
- You will see full courses/content – that’s right, go in as often as you want, 24/7, no limitations
- You will see playlists (within containers – our term) from a variety of publishers. You will be able to go directly to their site to sign up from demos/trials right within our platform; view course catalogs, even ask questions or leave comments – and the publisher will respond.
- There is no FEE for using the FindContent Course Platform – no charge to you whatsoever.
- Did I mention you can share the courses/content in Microsoft Teams? Or via E-Mail? Save favorites, subscribe to playlists or specific courses/content?
A few other items when you use the CoursePlatform
- We are in a soft launch, which means we are doing some finishing touches on the back-end. If you find a bug or have an issue – please check first to see if the answer is in the How To Guides.
- Because we are in soft launch we currently have only a few publishers on the course platform, but I can tell you we will be adding more in the coming month and months. We are in a lot of talks with a lot of different publishers. The Course Platform is a brand new concept to the 3rd party publishing space, and with anything that hasn’t been done before in the corporate let alone edTech market, its not surprising to see , some early adopters and some hold and wait.
- The Publishers on the platform today are OpenSesame, Biz Library, Mind Channel and Intellezy. GO1 will be coming on-board in the next week or so – so you will see their “container” but nothing is in it at the moment.
What is the FindContent Course Platform?
- It’s best to say what it is not. We are not a Udemy or Coursera or anything like that.
- We do not sell courses or content from any publishers. We are not an affiliate, or partner or reseller.
What I love
- I developed FindContent because I was seeing over and over again, folks – just like you, who wanted off-the-shelf courses/content (aka as third-party publishers) but did not know where to go, how to find the publishers (beyond the ones who do extensive marketing), or what to search for on the web (it’s a jumbled mess).
- I wanted a solution, whereas you could on your time, check out publishers, their courses/content, full and samples, and get a real feel if to them. If you liked what you saw, then reach out to the vendor via their site, without leaving the platform. I wanted to give people the power to make an informed decision, to ask the publisher(s) questions and know that they will respond – even in the specific course or content you are checking out.
- I felt that as a community, folks would see the benefits of taking courses from the publishers, rather than being limited to just samples (each vendor has full courses in the platform, and yes, samples, but not 100% samples only).
- Vendors love to talk about learner-centric. I can tell you that FindContent – the course platform, and eventually the other platform – are 100% YOU-Centric. As I said on LinkedIn, you are in full control, you are the driver, us? We are just along for the journey.
What I like.
Three words, that are clear, concise and right to the point.
Details that expand these three words – with data points you can trust.
The Romantics once said, “What I like about you..”
Secretly they were thinking about e-learning, learning systems, A cool course platform, training and learning and oh yeah,
Knowledge Acquisition for