Another busy, well attended show with lots of delegates provided with a wide range of exhibitors all combining to offer a real buzz.

The 2012 Learning Technologies show was interesting for a variety of reasons, and one particularly interesting reason was that this show was not dominated by the next big thing…..! Indeed, with some notable exceptions 2012 was more of the same from previous years!

Confidence, certainty and coalescence…….

While more of the same may sound a little dull, our view is now we have an industry that is maturing rapidly, and to the buyer this is a very good thing. We to see this as an encouraging trend, as it offers the buyer continuity and certainty, and indicates that the “hype waves” that have dominated this industry are slowing. This we believe will give buyers greater confidence in the longevity of both the vendors and the technology offers being made.

Our view is further reinforced by what we saw and heard from the exhibitors and speakers. There was no doubt that they were doing a very good job in explaining what e-learning and learning technologies are about and what impact they have. Our evidence is based both on our conversations with vendors and observing the presentations made in the exhibition seminar areas.

The presentations we listened to were generally informative and advisory, indicating a new maturity of both presenter and delegate. We were particularly impressed with the presentations from Onlignment and Exact Learning. This provision of advice and information was well supported by Towards Maturity, we anticipate the newly launching “Corporate Learning Consortium”   and the very excellent “European e-learning barometer” published by CrossKnowledge. We would strongly advise that you get a copy!

In short, continuity of message, coalescence of technologies and a new mature confidence in the industry and its abilities would sum up Learning Technologies 2012. This we believe is increasingly reflected in the attitude of the e-learning and learning technologies buyers. The challenge for our industry now is to “break out” beyond the already committed and confident buyers and win new converts in mid-sized corporates and the SME market.

We know the opportunity is very real having spent a significant amount of time interviewing many buyers of learning development across the UK for our 2012 research. Organisations with the right products and business proposition will be well placed to prosper as the market expands.

So what were the themes we saw at Learning Technologies 2012:

Content still key, but of an ever widening genre……

Content developers were still very much in demand by delegates, with Kineo, Brightwave and LINE – with its Learning Architecture and PTK’s excellent game and 3d materials all appearing to be very popular destinations with delegates.  Generic content is still a big category, Eukleia proved an interesting stand, illustrating that compliance led e-learning is still very important, and the quality makes a difference. Skillsoft looked a popular destination as did Jenison. Toolwire was attracting delegates demonstrating why it is a global winner!  a new exhibitor brought some real focus on Video based content to the exhibition. We were pleasantly surprised to see RM exhibiting. We know RM from the excellent work in education, especially in the project in Sheffield.

Gaming and simulation going mainstream…….

The Intellego –Pixelearning combination looks very exciting offering a full suite of services. Indeed after 5 years of hype we really do believe that gaming and simulation has now arrived, and this new combination will be well placed in the market. The Assima stand reflected this interest in system simulations, and we were surprised that Day One tech could not be enticed into exhibiting their excellent system simulations solutions.  We are also very excited about the forthcoming Digital Learning Marketplace from Intellego, which will bring a whole new approach to content delivery.

Talent management and learner performance platforms were key trends

A major trend this year was the strength in depth of talent management vendors, with big international players such as Cornerstone, Saba and SumTotal (going with Human Capital Management strap line)   looking popular. E2Train increasingly a significant player in this market with its 81Boxes – looks very impressive indeed. The Working Managers D2 is an innovative approach to enhancing learner performance.

Certpoint and CrossKnowledge are both excellent examples of bringing together technologies to deliver meaningful learning delivering real performance improvement, along with the ever innovative MyKnowledgeMap, bringing together differing technologies to deliver coherent learning solutions. We were particularly taken with the CrossKnowledge On Demand approach.

Moodle and Totara are having a growing impact  

Moodle and Totara were well represented, with Mind Click and again Kineo being very popular stands and new boys Webanywhere coming into the corporate market with some energy. Webanywhere had a big presence at BETT, and as probably Europe’s largest Moodle partner they should prove popular in the corporate market. The Fusion stand proved a very busy stand, using video presentations to good effect and the Fuse platform looks very interesting indeed – a video centric social learning platform. K-Tango – the platform for mobile learning support likewise looks good.

The LMS has not gone away, it’s just evolved, with differing vendors taking different perspectives on the market. Platforms still have an important role to play as we argued in our 2011 review of LTs.

Going Mobile

With Mobile we have been fans of Epic’s mobile learning solution GoMo for some time and see it as a real game changer. Likewise the Seminar Author product struck us as a well thought through solution. I-Pads and smartphones will continue to attract interest, but vendors were generally realistic in how and where they will be used.

Authoring tools….still a competitive market  

In comparison to BETT (see our review) the presence of Authoring Tool vendors must be highlighted. At LTs Adobe and  Kaplan’s Atlantic Link both proved very popular destinations by giving good demonstrations of their products capabilities…..this was sadly missing at BETT! Teachers do not want to build their own content, unlike the corporate L&D world, – though the LMS is arriving in education, its called the EMS though…see our BETT review.      The Harbinger stand showing Raptivity looked busy as did Trivantis with Lectora, Flypaper and Snap, and we were very impressed by new exhibitors. There were a couple of surprising absentees from the authoring tools market – no Techsmith, i-spring or Jackdaw. For those of us looking for the excellent Mohive we now need to seek out Cross Knowledge!

Coalescence…..the Cloud

However, real next generation is going to coalesce around the Cloud – this is going to be, or indeed is the next big thing, it was certainly very evident at BETT, though slightly less so at LTs. The Cloud was a massive part of Devlearn 2011 where we first noticed Xleme, with its cloud based LCMS solution and now it has launched its very exciting Bravais solution.

Our view is that the Cloud will impact on the Learning Technologies market significantly with Software as a Service and Content as a Service impacting upon the market in a very positive way. It will be the Cloud that will allow both mobile learning and social learning to be fully integrated into the corporate learning eco-system. Along with the Cloud we will see a new generation of analytics engines designed to utilise the new open post SCORM standards, that will move e-learning beyond  “deliver, track and record” to one of a focus on “outcomes and proficiencies” that will be continually monitored…as the Cloud never forgets!