Going to get lab work done, for most people, is worse than going to the dentist. When you go and get labs done, you might get the inquiry, “Have you fasted this morning?” Now there are only two answers that are available – yes or no. That’s it.
I bring this up because as with Enterprise, and how it is defined, it should be a clear response – and as the “Enterprise” past post noted, it never is so easy.
At a recent lab visit, I saw first hand, how a response which is either yes or no, turned into a third. When asked this question, the person (not me) said, “well..” – At this moment, it was clear the answer was no. Nobody says “well” and then “no I did not eat anything” as intertwined.
The same can be said for Enterprise Learning Systems. Anyone can mention they are Enterprise, and that their learning system is for “Enterprises”, but finding the best of the best of those, isn’t so simple to quantify, let alone clarify.
For these rankings, I defined “Enterprise” as 5,000 to 9,999 end users. Thus active, as in you just purchased x number of seats or up to x number of seats in this range, or at the start or end of the range.
If you go 10,000 and above, that is Large Enterprise. 1,000 to 2,499- Small Enterprise. 2,500 to 4,999 – Mid-Market.
For this list, the vendors are those that are of your consideration, in the 5,000 to 9,999 range. Now, you are like, “I have 10,024” should I select one of the following? Sure, why not? This list doesn’t say, “Oh, you will add another 75 learners and go above 9,999, so nope, these are not available to you.”
Rather, this is for the purposes stated here – how I defined the numbers.
Relevance to you in Enterprise World
Learning Systems in the “Enterprise” are systems targeting employees. Again, if you are buying a system for an association, and want to buy a system that targets an employee audience, you can. No one, will say no (or should). If you want to buy a learning system that is noted as “Enterprise” and you are providing your learning – i.e. training for your customers, you can still buy the system. Personally though, if my audience was 85% or higher “customers/partners”, I’d skip a system that is combo, and go customer-education focused.
But I digress.
What is Relevant and What I Consider Relevant
Employees will use whatever learning system you give them. They may despise it. May gripe, but they will use it. On your side, you think everyone is using it, therefore it is great. Ahh, so not true.
When you purchase an Enterprise system there are a lot of key factors on your side – use case is huge, requirements tied to the use cases (current and future perceived – which many people forget about) is very relevant. Budget of course, is the decider. You can love it, but if you can’t afford it…
When I decided upon my 20 list, I based it on my experience with the system(s) and use cases that are common for that range of employees. I didn’t factor in budget (although I will note a couple that are not known to be pricey) nor if they like a specific season of the year. Summer is the best!
Thereafter, uh, not season rankings, I explored the key components, the nuts and bolts of essential for these systems, and came up with a list. Here are the top essentials (in no particular order).
- UI and UX on the Learner side. This should be #1 with so many buyers, and it is more often the case, that is it not. Who wants to use a system that screams 1999? Or 2010 for that matter. Again, employees will use it, but using a system – being forced to with assigned no less, doesn’t mean enjoyment. I’m forced to see licorice candies in my JuJufruits- I swear the ratio is 20 to 1, with these things, but I do not have to enjoy them – during movie days, I would toss them on the ground, so the next patron can step in them. Yes, I’m that guy!
- UX includes navigation, design of the home – learner page, what is doable, what isn’t, and so on. I hate hearing the “two clicks” to get to this or that routine. Because in some cases, yeah two to get there, but you want to return to the home page? Click your back browser button, because no amount of clicks in the system will get you there.
- The Catalog – How is it designed, easy to figure out? Plenty of filter options? Just like the lab work, there are only two answers here – either yes it is easy to figure out OR no, it isn’t. I see a lot of “No” in Enterprise systems.
- Learning Environment – Plays a massive role, and goes beyond assigning content to X group, versus Y group (which every system can do), and similar. I’m looking at new capabilities from learning journeys, to tying in additional variables such as job role, skills, even specific content choices.
- Overall Functionality – I won’t regurgitate my learning template, but you can check it out, and quickly see on the learner side what’s relevant here. I have seem people buy a learning system that lacks any course standards and then, to no surprise, the system that doesn’t have any course standards, can’t accept your courses that are already wrapped in a course standard. Ditto when you buy a system that is SCORM 1.2 only, and all your stuff is in AICC. Or you have 200 videos and buy a system that doesn’t have batch upload. Trust me. You want, batch upload.
- Admin Side – Dashboards – home ones I love. Should give me the essentials, nevertheless, the industry as a whole, is still behind the times here. UI and UX is HUGE, and when vendors update their learning systems, guess where they tend to focus last on? Yep, the Admin side – which uh, is used the most.
- Manager and Instructor view (if applicable) – Easy? Lots of capabilities without overwhelming? Can get me from A to B without having to contact the admin?
- Metrics – These will tell you the story of learning. I see a lot of Enterprise systems who think that story is more like a Haiku. What data can I as the person overseeing the learning or training at my company, see that will tell me really what is going on? How much can I segment?
- Connections with HCMs, HRISs, etc – Pretty standard, but some vendors really are awful at it, or have a track record either via partners or otherwise, of so-so – as in maybe you get lucky Or maybe you step in one of my licorice jujus on the floor – with your new open toe shoes.
- Mobile – So relevant in Enterprise systems. And yes, in 2022 – the end of it no less, there are vendors who lack mobile. It is an outrage. What is worse, is that these same folks who won’t add it, are using their mobile devices and clicking on apps and doing this or that. One Enterprise system I like, still does not have a mobile app. Thankfully, they scored very high elsewhere, otherwise – “well…”
- Curation, Playlists, Skills, Job Roles (if applicable) – how can they be intertwined or at least utilized to gain maximum efficiency and usage by each learner. There are enterprise systems who are still very behind on the skills side – they have some, then uh, okay – which is understandable as we are still in barely above infant stage. Again, those who do a far better job, scored better here.
- Support – Extremely relevant. I cannot stress, how Support will either have you happy with your system or not. Ditto on Training for your Admins and you.
- System says “Enterprise” – Happy for your marketing, but seriously, totally irrelevant
- How many clients they have – Sounds great for sales pitches, but I have no idea, maybe a chunk were free, or friends of the family and giving them a smartphone wasn’t in play. Ditto on user numbers. Great for your sales spin, but not something that makes a hard decision on an Enterprise system.
- Where they are located? Irrelevant
- How long have they been around? Irrelevant. Vendors love the traditional angle, but that it total marketing spin, just as “legacy”. There are great systems that have been around for quite a bit, and new ones, that are poor. Age is only a number – I think that is what they tell you, when you get old.
Are they ranked? Well….
No. But here is the pool of 20, which means, that one of said pool, will be named #1 Learning System for Enterprise in 2022 (published in Dec.).
In no order. Not even alphabetical.
(I am including one based on a) estimated, b) does not include setup, any professional fees, and any other fees that the vendor may or may not charge). The Scale is based on the range of 5,000 to 9,999 (on avg). Typically the more users you have, the lower the price per seat per year. But this is not always the case.
$ – Very Affordable, $$ – Average, $$$ – Above Average to Pricey, $$$$ – Expensive – I consider Pricey a tad lower than Expensive. Average to me does not always mean affordable, it can equally mean, average range within the industry.
Cornerstone CBX $$$ – Okay, on their web site it is listed as Cornerstone LMS. The salespeople call it CBX, and seem to get perturbed when you refer to it as Cornerstone LMS. Whatever. I wouldn’t touch the Saba solution, which has another alphabetical salad of letters, because CBX is significantly better. The analytics on CBX, while solid, needs a major UI/UX revamp, and more metrics that align for today’s workforce. Mobile is a winner, and the UI/UX on the Learner side is way better than before. Still needs tweaks. Still scores very high for skills capabilities. Content Anytime (Cornerstone’s content marketplace) is included – but you still pay for any 3rd party publisher content. For those curious, Content Anytime is now available to anyone, who isn’t a client of Cornerstone but wants to purchase it. No surprise, this isn’t mentioned on their web site either.
Learn Amp – $$. Overall a really solid, okay upper solid system. I have always liked Learn Amp, and while their sweet spot is more in the Mid-Market, they – but adding more functionality and capabilities have moved well into “Enterprise” (as I define it). UI/UX is very good on the learner side, and above average on the Admin side. Analytics/Metrics still needs a bit more ooomph, but it can stand toe to toe with many others in the space. Functionality is strong, and skill wise they are moving further up, compared to the industry as a whole. The big downer for me is the lack of a mobile app. Oh, they know my feelings on this.
Fuse – $$ to $$$. They are very close to being a cohort-based learning platform, which really gets my eyeballs on it. As it exists now, they focus everything around ‘communities’ which is why I say it is very close to a cohort-based learning platform. There are just a few items missing. The UI/UX on the learner side, is good, still needs some enhancements. The admin side, ditto. The metrics/analytics totally rock – I mean ROCKS. Top three in the industry, okay tied for best in the industry. Everything is included with Fuse, another big win. Skills is a work in progress, thus aligns with the industry as a whole. Curation, the ability to search the net and bring back content, etc. showcases the system. They were #1 in 2022 for a reason. Mobile nice. I will add that the UI/UX is not for everyone. Different approach than the market, excluding some legit cohort-based learning platforms.
Docebo Learn– $$ to $$$ – This is going to get a bit confusing because Docebo sells a Learning Suite, and while you can buy the suite outright, the majority do not. Docebo Learn is the LMS. Discovery, Coach and Share (which is not listed in the suite) is an add-on to Docebo Learn. DCS is the content sharing, pulling down content from the net, so-so coaching, etc. You want it.
Docebo’s analytics out of the box, i.e. that comes with the system are so-so. I mean, it’s okay, but not great, especially at the 5,000 to 9,999 crowd. Thus, your better option is another add-on called Learning Analytics. Learning Impacts is another add-on, and that is better than what comes out of the box with Docebo Learn, but I’d skip it and go Learning Analytics. Yes, the $$$ still applies, albeit, you can bounce into $$$$ if you go full suite here. I’m saving you, time and money, because there are items in that suite, I wouldn’t buy. Mobile is good for Docebo. Two duds are Docebo Shape (they should just give this away) and Docebo Flow.
Docebo Connect is another good solution, for those at the 5,000 to 9,999 range and sits within Learn (if you buy Connect). Yep, another add-on, and then some additional fees depended on number of API connections. That said, really like it.
UI/UX on the learner side, stays sharp, but I want more – especially since they have IMO the financial resources to do it. The admin side is better than before, but needs some tweaks. Skills is underwhelming.
Degreed – $$$ to $$$$. Yep the upskilling platform makes into the Enterprise ranks. UI/UX is quite strong, on the learner side. Admin is above average, and definitely needs some enhancements. For the Enterprise crowd, you will want Degreed Intelligence, which takes their metrics to a whole new level. The secret gold is called Guidebooks, which is part of Degreed Intelligence. Degreed also sells as an add-on the “opportunity” feature, which again, at Enterprise is a win, if you want to leverage tying in learning content, skills with opportunities within the company. Skills is very strong here in Degreed. Skill Ratings rocks. Metrics out of the box, are a mixed bag. Ditto with the UI. To me, for the Enterprise side, the Intelligence offering makes more sense. Look for them to add more cohort-based learning to their system via the Learn-In acquisition. Mobile is good. They also have a bookmark extension that sits on your browser bar.
Absorb – $$ to $$$. The increase will come depending on the number of add-on modules you go with. My recommendations are Absorb LMS (which you need, it’s the LMS), Absorb Engage, Absorb Analyze and Absorb Amplify (which is the content marketplace, but with a slight twist). The twist is that some of courses/content is included at no-charge. I like that. They also have publishers (3rd party) and those are an additional cost. Analyze is way better on the metrics/analytics than anything that comes with Absorb LMS. Trust me. Engage is a must IMO, just lots to like there.
The Other modules – Absorb Create LI is their authoring tool. I like it, and if you do not use or have a 3rd party authoring tool, OR you have one, but also have staff that has zero or limited experience in building courses/content, that Create is another add. Absorb Infuse – Pass.
Mobile is good. UI/UX on Learner and Admin side are nice, I’d like to see some updating though. Functionality wise very solid. Skills is a work in progress.
NovoEd – $$$ – A cohort-based learning platform for Enterprise. Hey-Yo! The metrics are the bummer here, look they are solid, but they are in the midst of an upgrade/update – so reach out if curious. I haven’t see it, but will – that’s from the UI/UX standpoint. From the data standpoint – they need uh, let’s say more, especially for Enterprise. The admin side needs an update on the UI/UX. Learner is nice. They do not have 100% of the cohort-based feature sets, but they do 85%, so that works.
GyrusAim – $$$ – This size of audience is their sweet spot, which in this list, isn’t always the case. The system functionality wise does damage in a good way. UI/UX works, but they did get a couple of dings, because updates to the UI is sorely needed. Skills is a work in progress. Metrics/Analytics are good, and as with anything, could add more.
Pluralsight – $$$$ – This is in a group of four of the expensive systems in the market. They only reason to buy them is for technical skills, because that is the focus, and uh, the only focus. The metrics/analytics are top three in my book. Lots to do and like. Boot camps, certification prep it is all there. A weird twist is that there are learning system vendors that offer Pluralsight in their content marketplace, but uh, PS isn’t content per se. Best system out there for technical skills, and thus their skills capabilities are strong – but not the best (overall, = Cornerstone still leads).
Schoox – $$ – Everything is included, which I love. Their issue is two-prong. One – the metrics are so-so, across the board, let alone for this size of audience. They need a massive upgrade here. The second is that UI/UX on the Learner and Admin side. I gave them a few dings on it, but I know they are in the midst of updating/upgrading the whole thing. Mobile is quite good. Skills is a work in progress.
Litmos – $$$. Now they are out of the Borg, and onto themselves or shortly will be, perhaps the pricing will slide down, a tiny bit. Another vendor whose sweet spot is a tad lower on the user size, however, they play IMO well in Enterprise. Functionality wise took a hit during the days of SAP, but I know what they are capable of, because it was a whole other story when Callidus owned them. Hence my expectation is that now free, and investment going in R&D, you will see some upswings. Metrics/Analytics are solid – and wait for it, needs better and more. They have a marketplace too, and an app marketplace/exchange which I like. Skills is a work in progress.
IMC Learning Suite – $$$. Functionality wise, they hit a home run. Metrics need to be enhancements. The stickler is the UI for the Learner side. UX wise is good, UI, needs upgrading, pronto. Admin is better, but again, some UI is needed. Plays well in Enterprise. Mobile is solid. Skills is on the upswing.
LMS365 – $$ to $$$. The UI/UX are nice, the system fully integrates with every Microsoft offering in Microsoft 365 that is relevant for most business users. (excluding Visio). Metrics, well, yeah, they are there – but my vibe is that if you are heavy Microsoft, you are probably using Dynamics.
PeopleFluent Learning – $$$. They have done some nice upgrading/updating with PeopleFluent, and continue to add. The Learner side, has vastly improved, ditto on the Admin side. Metrics are solid, needs updating and enhancements here. Many vendors, PF included is of the belief that everyone has a BI tool, and prefers to use that for their learning. Yeah, uh, okay. As my dog says, “woof, woof” which means whatever. The nice pluses include Bridge Advanced Video Learning Experience which is a good (formally known as Instilled), but it is an add-on (boo, hiss). Skills is a work in progress. Plays heavy as in HEAVY in Life Sciences.
Juno Journey – $$ to $$$. They are, well, they see, well, refer to as a People Experience Platform, which means LMS with talent development capabilities. UI/UX on the Learner side is really good, but definitely not a fit for everyone, because it is quite different than the market as a whole. Not only skills can be selected, but also interests. Admin wise is nice, UI/UX – I’d still like to see improvement. Skills is strong, a sweet spot for them – but nevertheless, not at top tier stage yet. Metrics are good and align well, but, broken record time – needs more.
EdCast TXP – $$$ to $$$$- A caveat here, because until I am at Convergence – Cornerstone next week, I won’t know the full game plan, so this could easily be bumped out. That said, nice UI/UX on the Learner side, but there are some confusing pieces – I recommend my Degreed vs Fuse vs EdCast piece. Admin side is solid. Metrics/Analytics out of the box are sufficient, but for this Enterprise level, you need more – which is available as an add-on – Domo. They have a bookmark extension which I love, best one I’ve seen in the industry. Can go full integrated with Teams, deep integration, so you never have to leave Teams. It is far better than Microsoft’s Viva Learning, which was built for Teams. Mobile is good. They have something like Docebo Connect, but the UI/UX isn’t as good – on the flip side, it comes with built-in templates, pre-filled which DC does not. Career mapping is another add-on. They can also go strip to the foundation and rebuild as you like – but that is going to be $$$$$$.
BrainCert (This is for the Elite version)– $ – There is a lot to enjoy, but the metrics/analytics is average – so that needs major movement. Learner UI/UX is good, Admin needs another update or two. Mobile shines for this system, and functionality wise they are good. Skills is a work in progress. Coaching – yeah, no. I’m not a fan of the size caps when it comes to SCORM files – it makes no sense, nor the limit of bulk upload per number of entries. That is not bulk upload, okay it sort of is with a major asterisk needed. They also have limits on a few other areas – such as virtual classroom minutes, but I didn’t see that as a yuck, because I doubt most folks will get there – the number of attendees is another story – better to go 3rd party here. However, the limit on sharable test attempts, another makes no sense. Ditto for number of questions. Seriously, you are capping that? What are you AT&T with network bandwidth caps?
SumTotal (Learning Management) – $$$ to $$$$. Similar to EdCast, this could change depending on my conversations with them next week. SumTotal seems to have the same issue as Cornerstone, when it comes to metrics/analytics – a lot there, bad UI/UX. Actually, SumTotal’s is far worse. The reporting UI/UX is old school, dated and just, no, no and no. Learner UI/UX is above average, definitely in need of updating, ditto on the Admin side. Mobile is good. Learner Experience is a stretch here. Maybe Skillsoft didn’t want to invest more into SumTotal, it was a strange relationship – I mean dysfunctional would be kind.
Valamis – $$$ to $$$$. Continues to call themselves a Modern LXP – which YOU ARE NOT, seriously, you lack over 50% of the feature sets. Anyway, they have an LRS which is a win, learner side is nice, UI/UX, Admin is solid, needs tweaks. Feature-rich for the most part. Skills is a work in progress. Based on an acquisition earlier this year, I expect to see more employee specific – talent wise components in the coming year. Metrics out of the box, are okay, far better if you tap into the LRS. They – Valamis is a good example, of allowing marketing to confuse the heck out of folks, sort of the “they can’t get out of their own way”.
CrossKnowledge – $$$. They play big in Europe, but haven’t done as well, let alone expected across the pond. I can’t figure out if Wiley just doesn’t seem to get it (they own CK) or if CK does a poor job of getting the message out in the U.S. (my gut says it is a bit of both). Anyway, the metrics/analytics are quite good, Admin UI/UX needs updating, Learner UI/UX is good, but updating again. Skills is a work in progress.
Enterprise Systems – defined as 5,000 to 9,999 active end users.
Sure anyone can say they are enterprise, but are they really? Two concerns when it comes to the Enterprise space, that seems industry-wide as a whole.
a. Support – A lot of average to below average. There are some vendors on the above list that needs to get their support significantly better. They are SumTotal, Docebo, and depending on which partner you get, Cornerstone (some partners rock, others do not) – support direct thru Cornerstone is avg.
b. Add-ons. Brutal. Just brutal. It drives the price up, because add-ons are typically not one-offs, so you are paying yearly, on top of the learning system (LMS or whatever they call it) itself. And for many vendors who have the add-ons, for Enterprise, you will need at least of them – Analytics, being the one I would recommend above anything else.
Thank you for reading.