In the coming weeks, you will learn the Gen-AI terminology you need to know, with definitions (also available as a download in the learning library), and the latest learning technology/systems worth a few eyeballs. Plus, “Product Spotlight” covers one learning system that I dive into with lots of gusto – basically, it is a re-branded product review! Next up – The Gen-AI products/tools that I see as something that can be added to a learning system, added to learning technology, and/or used in your L&D, and Training departments. This will be available via the Learning Library and covered in a blog post (it is not yet available and won’t be for at least another month – only 3,000 products are still to review)
I bring all the above up because they aid in trends; okay, two do, the other, who doesn’t love a Product Spotlight, especially the kind of like and what are you thinking angle? That could be why plenty of vendors out there demur – I surmise the “weaknesses” area isn’t a PR coup.
What this post covers are trends that are either in “play,” “on the upswing,” or show signs of “growth” for the rest of 202-23 thru early 2024. There are so many trends out there that writing a post on all of them would be quite massive – and thus, as I have done in the past, I’ve selected a few that stand out to me – and perhaps you have seen it too!
Return of the Monster Booth
For those who haven’t attended an industry trade show/conference in the past several months, this trend wouldn’t be something obviously you will see. For those who have, though, oh, yeah, you have seen it.
Call it the Behomath Booth or Bottomless Pit – you choose! When a vendor goes to a trade show, there is a lot of costs. Not just where the booth’s location is (an advantage for those who have attended the show in years – consecutively), but the booth’s cost. Better footpath – more money. Need net? Zing. Furniture – Zing! Other stuff you won’t bring? Zing. Then comes the booth design, and so on (oh, this is for any trade show). The big shebang, though, is that booth size. There have always been vendors who go “big,” – believing that larger size is better, as though there is a correlation in perception – that if I have a larger size booth, I am making more money – and doing well financially, and have lots of clients, and look at all the salespeople in the booth, and we are financially secure, and we are not going anywhere, and we want your business – because didn’t you see the size of our booth?
In our industry, though, it is true that attending a show – at least one (way too many vendors go to all of them – a mistake), identifies you (system, tech, whatever) as still being in the e-learning market visible and thus viable. This is marketing, after all, and I won’t cover the strategic approach you need or should take with your messaging.
What I will say, though, is that when I see a large booth, I immediately think marketing budget. And ROI – Return on Investment. The majority of vendors know that being “seen” is the end game here and that if you close any deal, that is, of course, the ideal, but the timeframes tend to be quite long (more than 12 mths on average), lots of interest – lead opps for vendors, who either fail to follow thru or do, and maybe they get one or two to close (out of a few hundred). Knowing it is to be seen, especially with your current customer base (a huge plus), is the angle here.
The size of the booth, in the long run, really doesn’t matter – except to say, you dropped a lot on said size (along with all those other costs, oh, and resources to be there, etc..), expecting a net gain unless you are in charge of the show.
The return of the big booths is a definite trend after years of scaling back – yes, there were always big booths, but the number of them has increased in 2023. Some of the large booths are the result of raised capital and a push of marketing for the sake of it; others, it is due to, well, who knows what someone was thinking. The booths get eyeballs (a must) and traffic (definitely on day one), and depending on what else is going on there to entice folks to come in (yes, besides the solution(s), content, etc.), only increases the appearance of lots of people who want to move forward with the said vendor.
While I did not attend ATD23 (great weather, huh? hee hee – it was cold in San Diego), I did receive a few photos of booths taken there. One was of Franklin Covey. Besides the big booth, they also had a ” massive ” screen with their name on it (maybe other stuff, who knows – I just saw the name). This begs the question for the ROI, did it pay off to go that large? Could they have scaled back and achieved the same objectives?
At LTUK, a vendor whose name was like Pan Jam or something like that (I guess the marketing didn’t stick), had an extremely large booth. From sheer size and scope along with these things that hung down – like banners – it IMO definitely stood out, but did it draw the crowds and, more importantly, the return on investment?
That’s the risk of going BIG. It works fine once, but over a period of time, okay, multiple shows, then I doubt the ROI for everything matches what went out the proverbial door. Be seen, yes – but at Empire Size level? Not needed. Anyway, it is a trend and will continue.
To Go Generative AI now or wait
ChatGPT – is really hot now, but is it and similar ILK going the way of being passe or, worse, obsolete? Because solutions such as GPT-4, Bard (soon from Google), Kosmos-1 (from Microsoft) are all multimodal a.i. – which depending on whom you read (and the message around it is very clear) – multimodal is the “future,” for AI. This is because, as the name implies, it allows the ability to add multiple modes of data, including video, audio, text, and images. ChatGPT is a text-only LLM.
As to why learning system vendors and learning technologies as a whole, right now (and I am going to be looking at one that implies it is using multimodal in their offering), are not going with multimodal is partially surprising and partially indicates to they may not be aware it exists. Supposedly, Kosmos-1, for example, can solve visual puzzles and analyze images for content (among other things).
You may not see this as a big deal, but perhaps this definition of multimodal will reinforce why this Gen-AI method will work the best in the learning system space (and yes, learning technologies)
“Combines multiple types, or modes, of data to create more accurate determinations, draw insightful conclusions, or make more precise predictions about real-world problems. Multimodal AI systems train with and use video, audio, speech, images, text, and a range of traditional numerical data sets.” (What is MultiModal AI? George Lawton.)
Multimodal exists today, but when looking at our industry, way too many are tapping ChatGPT as the first piece of the pie (rather than, say, using the GPT models or other LLMs that may be far superior). The early adopters of Generative-AI to their system, learning tech, and so forth should be commended for doing so, but by racing to get it out, they may have underestimated the speed of development for those LLMs to surpass ChatGPT.
At the end of the day, the tokens – those fees – are what is going to set vendors apart because, as mentioned before, in the case of OpenAI, GPT-4 is far more expensive than ChatGPT, and thus, whatever comes after GPT-4 will be more than the previous version. The fee angle is the reason why I am seeing this trend:
Proprietary models of LLM
When you try to pin down what LLM or LLMs a vendor is using, you either end up with a specific retort, “Open AI, GPT models) or the proprietary model. In some cases, it is both (right now, that is the more common response). This begs the question, why build your own, at the same time you are using one of the fee-based LLM = i.e. the tokens. The answer is simple – reduce the costs. However, getting a vendor to go deeper into their “Proprietary model,” with what data sets, how did they decide on that LLM, and what is it exactly, and so forth, is the same as getting Santa to deliver you the Maserati you wanted, every single year. In a previous post, I mentioned that one vendor in the learning system space stated they use GPT-4, but also “Propriety models – short and big ones.” Since I am not ordering a sub sandwich, I am unsure what short/big propriety models mean.
People – clients and future buyers – want ChatGPT
Not a lot of folks know the actual term – Generative AI, thus, they are asking their vendor or vendors to be – if they have ChatGPT. Do me a huge favor, don’t ask if the vendor has or you want ChatGPT, because just by reading above, multimodal is the one of more relevance to our space – and it should be to you too.
Vendors who are using Gen-AI, beyond Propeitrary are overwhelmingly using
OpenAI. I’ve talked to vendors who are on AWS (which overwhelmingly the learning system space and content providers use), and for whatever reason, decided against Titan (Amazon’s Gen-AI specifically for AWS). Vendors on Azure from Microsoft (the 2nd most popular among vendors) are bypassing Microsoft and using OpenAI.
The question is whether or not vendors will look to Google’s LLM or perhaps another LLM.
Content Pricing is going up, up, and up
This continues to be a major issue, overall in the industry. People need the 3rd party content, and in return, the vendors who make such content, are charging more. True, there are vendors whose price points are affordable – and still produce outstanding content – Biz Library, and Intellezy (so far, the lowest PP I’ve seen in the industry, for lots of content).
Where are those courses around Gen AI and the Workplace?
The courses/content that should be either in development mode or on the must-need to build, are courses around workers (i.e. your employees) who are using Gen-AI (likely ChatGPT) daily in your workplace – to do tasks, generate reports, information, and whatever else that is part of their role and requires info to the manager or whomever. These courses are not about how to build Gen-AI, but rather the ethical, legal, and potentially false information/fake to that can come from the usage of Gen-AI (including ChatGPT).
EdTech plays the whack-a-mole strategy (which, like many things, is a Giant F at the moment). Corporate must play the “Reality you are using this or will in the workplace” strategy.
If a content provider was to produce this and provide it at, say, NO Charge, that would make sense. But at the most basic, it should be available. Oh, and whoever oversees HR, I strongly recommend you start creating HR policies around the use of Gen-AI in an employee’s daily work or in the workplace.
These are just a few trends that are quite visible. Another, which needs to be delved into in a separate blog post is the insistence of the upskill narrative and push by learning system vendors, learning technology solutions, and others (including people looking to upskill their people). Gen-AI is telling you, or you should be hearing it, that reskilling should take the priority here, and yes, skill-building is always needed – as it has been.
A final trend goes back to the trade shows.
Let’s stop the usage of printing out your show book, promo materials, and other paper offerings and instead go fully digital. Use geolocation and visual maps via your app or on the web that people can easily read and find.
Want to allow folks to see and download materials? Either go QR Code, or just a link to it will suffice.
Perhaps the shows will finally recognize the importance of the environment, and ways to reduce the abundance of paper for it.
That way, going BIG