Looking for a new Learning Platform? You’re not alone, and you’re not short on options. According to Allied Market Research, the world’s organisations spent over $5.3bn on an LMS or Learning platform in 2017, and by 2023 the market will be worth over $15bn, growing over 20% each year. It has some dominant players, and many new entrants attracted by the growth potential. This has led to a fragmented and crowded field of players vying for buyer attention. By some estimates well over 600 options are available to you. We’re guessing you may be somewhat pushed for time to consider more than 5% of those for your next Learning Platform.
And even when you narrow it down, there’s no one right answer (but you knew that). There’s no platform to rule them all, and it’s hard to compare like-for-like (believe us, we work with many of them). So it’s helpful to get an independent take on what’s happening in the market.
If you want a clear view on what’s happening in Learning Systems, a great place to start is with the 2020 Fosway 9-Grid™ for Learning Systems. Fosway Group is Europe’s #1 HR Industry Analyst which does a thorough job in ranking leading LMS and Learning Platforms, and aligning them against performance, presence, potential, trajectory and total cost of ownership. The team updates the report every year, and it’s free to download.
We are delighted to be included in the 9-Grid™, alongside so many of our partners. Here’s what CEO of Fosway, David Wilson, had to say about our inclusion:
‘Anders Pink is a great example of a specialist solution and why we have ditched an outdated LMS/NGLE/LXP classification. By focusing on curation, they provide deep expertise to their customers and partners alike and form a useful component in wider learning ecosystems where organisations bring together best of breed solutions.’
While it’s great to be on there, the report is not just about who’s listed of course – there are some important trends and insights to take note of.
Here are some key points and our take on this year’s report:
- LMS, LXP, NGLE = Confusion. Think Suites and Specialists
You need to know what it is you’re looking for in a Learning Platform. Are you replacing an existing enterprise solution, or looking for something to fit into your stack? Are you clear on the difference between an LMS, LXP, NGLE? You’d be forgiven for being confused. So is the market.
The report categorises companies as
Suites: Essentially full-service solutions that manage most types of learning on an enterprise level – that includes LMSs that have added next gen learning capabilities as well as LXPs that now manage compliance and formal learning.
Specialists: Focused solutions that try to do one thing very well: “They unashamedly focus on one area of capability with a disruptive, high-impact agenda.”
And it’s not an either / or. Suites are enhanced with specialists, specialists can plug into and take data from suites. It’s all good in the Learning Ecosystem – as long as the integration is seamless and not a jarring experience for buyers and users.
I think this categorisation is really useful for buyers, and exactly right about Anders Pink, who feature in the “specialists” category on the 9-Grid™. We are not an LMS or an LXP. We are focused on curation. We plug in seamlessly to the LMS or LXP, and make it easier and more efficient to provide personalised and curated content to learners on any topic, from any source, whenever they want it. Many of the “suites” on the 9-Grid™ do this through a smart integration with us – sometimes white labelled. To us, deep integration, offering learners more choice and control, and adding value to the platforms and the ecosystem is very positive disruption.
- It’s all about the Ecosystem
Given the Suites and Specialists categorisation, the question buyers should be (and are) asking is: how do you play nicely with each other? “Out of the box integrations and ecosystem thinking are more critical than ever,” the report notices. Buyers are rightfully expecting collaboration between players in the Learning systems market, with the wiring hidden, ready to go. We were delighted to see so many of our partners featuring across the 9-Grid™. Each one is doing something different with our curation tool and connectors, and differentiating in how they weave it into their core offer. I think it’s a sign of a maturing market, and wise R&D decision making by Systems companies with already crowded roadmaps. Why duplicate when you can integrate? (Alright, not the snappiest t-shirt you’ll ever wear, but at least you only have to buy one of them).
- Netflix of Learning = Saturation point. Personalisation trumps interfaces
Many organisations position themselves as the Netflix of learning. You need to ask yourself – and them – what does that mean, exactly. On a surface interface level, it may mean offering courses and resources in scrolling tiles. That has become almost the standard interface in Learning Platforms – but what lies beneath it? Some Platforms are offering personalised recommendations to learners, using AI to track behaviour and preferences and serving up relevant content based on their consumption habits (that’s what Netflix does, that’s how we power our curation tool). A modern UI is vital, but true personalisation is more than skin deep. Look beyond the interface and ask how “Netflixy” (yep, not a word, but you know what we mean) the system really is.
- Skills > Courses
Increasingly the conversation in learning is moving beyond content to skills. The expectation is that your Learning System will allow users to identify their skills gaps (or intelligently identify them based on their role, assessment, profile and so on) and provide learning paths that will build towards those skills. We can attest to that in the work we’ve done with several partners, analysing thousands of skills and competencies and mapping recommendations against those. Skills change, the recommendations need to change with them. You want that content to be dynamic and updating automatically.
- Nobody wants an empty shell
The report notes that over 50% of organisations are planning to increase their spend on Learning Systems in the next 12 months. Given that investment, it’s not surprising that organisations want something in these systems that’s worth seeing. Learning Systems (and suites) on the more progressive side are coming preloaded with content: “Solutions include internal and external marketplaces, access to bundles of content, and free white-labelled connections to curation tools and content suites.” The consequence of this is of course more choice for the learner – the key is striking a balance between content overload and quality recommendations. When we integrate with systems, our view is that more is not necessarily better – using the right topic, keyword and domain filters helps to maintain this.
We’ve just scratched the surface here – there’s so much more in the 9 Grid™ report for Learning Systems. If you’re at all plugged into the Learning Market, mark it as a must read.
Thanks to the Fosway Team as always for providing a clear-eyed view on what’s happening in this market. Essential reading ahead of Learning Technologies 2020 in London next week where you can meet nearly everyone on this list, us included. Dive into that swirling ecosystem, that little bit more informed thanks to Fosway.