With Learning Technologies (LTs) and BETT overlapping for the first time in 2013, we took the opportunity to visit both in quick succession and offer some very real time comparisons.

Location, location and organisation

Why the  overlap, well LTs and its sister show Learning and Skills has stayed at Kensington’s Olympia, while BETT had by 2010 in our view outgrown that location, and indeed in 2013 it moved to Excel in London’s docklands.

LT’s changed its format in 2013, with Learning and skills, its sister exhibition moving up a floor to be alongside LT’s itself. Was this a success, only time will tell, or next years bookings, but Learning and Skills appeared to us to be markedly quieter than LTs right next door.

BETT’s relocation has undoubtedly worked, the Excel facility was vibrant and the layout and spacing of the exhibitors was much improved on 2012 at Olympia. By contrast and common agreement LTs felt more compact this year, with seemingly tighter gangways, and less space.

Excel itself is an excellent venue, with catering a plenty, and enough spaces to sit and meet friends and associates and make new acquaintances. I wish the same could be said about Olympia.

Both have transport challenges, Excel is certainly not in central London, but it is well served by the Docklands Light Railway (DLR), but is a 40 minute journey from central London.

LTs this year was not served by London Underground via Earl’s Court to Kensington Olympia…..we know not why!

Nevertheless both were very busy, and both suffered long cloakroom room delays….it should be obvious to organisers that events in January will attract people who will wear coats……poor service and planning all round!

BETT is more than education

Are these events comparable, BETT is education and Learning Technologies is aimed at the workplace…..well only to a point, take a look at how BETT classifies its exhibitors:

BETT classifies its companies by the services they offer as follows:

Higher Education

Primary and Early years


Special Education Needs

Workplace Learning

By contrast LTs offers just 2 broad classifications: Learning Technologies and Learning and Skills.

So what are the big differences…….

Size matters

BETT is massive, and the stands (or castles in the sky) are hugely impressive compared to Learning Technologies, at BETT we believe there are over 550 exhibitors, at Learning Technologies about 140, with an additional 90 or so at the Learning and Skills show.

BETT covers a much greater range of products and service than LTs and this partly explains the size difference, it is unlikely that you will see many of these at LTs: CAD/CAM tools, telecommunications services, admin and registration systems, e-safety solutions, student and parent communications systems, CCTV and entry systems, furniture and storage (including specially designed lockers for i-pads no less) and other devices such as printers, scanners,  IT and network solutions and services etc….)

Longer BETTer? 

BETT is open for 4 days, and includes a Saturday, LTs is open for just 2 days. BETT draws a huge number of overseas visitors, and is usually opened by a Government minister, this year it was Vince Cable, who quoted from the very recent research by Learning Light and IBIS Capital. This research indicates that e-learning in education will grow at over 23% , corporate e-learning at 20%  and traditional education and learning at only 7% (2012-17).

Domination by “non- attendance”

However, the atmosphere is also quite different In our view this is not surprising as BETT appears to be  a key arena in which a global battle is being waged between three huge protagonists (though only two were present!) for market domination and arguably long term survival, if there is such a thing as long term in technology any more!

This battle for the dominance of the global education market is being is being fought out by Microsoft and its followers promoting  Windows 8, Skype and Office 365, Google and the Apps and Android team and the “non- exhibitor” Apple.

Apple despite its devices being omni-present was not exhibiting at BETT or at Learning Technologies. Though I have calculated that I have been entered in enough “win an i-pad competitions” in 2 days to face the unlikely possibility (or luxury?) of winning a new i-pad for every week of the year for about 2 years!

At Learning Technologies the Apple device was also omni-present, and again there was no official Apple representation. One however did not get the feeling of this global battle for domination of the corporate learning technology market being waged at LTs as there was no real Google or Microsoft presence either.


The battle at BETT and beyond will however have considerable impact on the overall corporate learning and training market as well as the education market. We wonder using our FLATMAGs model (that’s our shorthand for Facebook, LinkedIn, Apple, Twitter, Amazon (and) Google) if we will see LinkedIn, Amazon and Twitter entering the fray or at least exhibiting at LTs or BETT in years to come.

It will be interesting to see who wins this battle, and it appears that the education market, not the corporate market is where the real action is, even if Apple, (or Amazon or Twitter or LinkedIn) haven’t turned up in public to do battle in either market.

Global or Local

BETT attracts foreign government ministers of education, and huge delegations from all over the world, and is truly a global event, LTs is made up of largely UK visitors.

BETT as we note attracts the leading global IT companies, in addition to the ones mentioned above we saw Intel and Cisco, BT, HP, Samsung, as well as education giants such as Pearson, and publishers such as Oxford University press and Cambridge University press and a new generation of Chinese technology providers exhibiting in growing numbers and some fantastic innovative emerging companies with some great ideas and aspirations.

LTs attracts a number of US vendors such as Sum Total, Toolwire, Cornerstone,  Xyleme, and Blackboard, who surpringly were not at BETT but chose LTs in 2013! European vendors such as Exact, Crossknowledge and global player SAP were noted.  We saw some Indian vendors such as Harbinger also make the trip to London to showcase their solutions. However the majority of the exhibitors were e-learning companies from the UK, and those with considerable presence included LINE, Virtual College, Totem, Kineo, Fuse, Epic, Brightwave, TWM, Webanywhere, Saffron and Assima, who all reported that LTs 2013 was busy indeed. We were surprised however  by the absence of the acquisitive and truly global player Skillsoft from LTs this year.

The final count up……

So is it worth visiting both shows: undoubtedly yes, is it worth exhibiting at both, well we saw only 4 companies exhibiting at both BETT and LTs, they were learndirect, Lynda.com, Tribal and finally Webanywhere, who definitely said yes it was!

In our next blog we will dig a little deeper into each of the events and highlight what really excited and interested us.