Learning Technologies 2014 in 3 words……busy busy busy!

Learning Technologies 2014 was a busy and bustling event, from a busy entrance and long queues for the cloakrooms to very well attended speaking seminar slots and exhibition stands this was one busy show.

There appeared to be a wide range of delegates with long shopping lists of interests visiting stands to learn more and paying close attention to the seminars…..many of which were standing room only.

Our aim was to check out the temperature of the LMS market…if these are in demand the omens are good and secondly take a look at what is coming down the line….LRS and LCMS….which we predict are going to be hot in coming years.

We were also keen to see what is new in content development….does Articulate have any real challengers?…and what the latest is in responsive web design?

Finally as ever see who was up to what, check out old friends and make new acquaintances.

So what was exciting about this year’s Learning Technologies….quite a lot really.

Buyers appear to be interested in Learning Management systems, all the LMS vendors we spoke with reporting high levels of interest, our friends and provider LearnUpon who reported high levels of interest in their value for money offer. Virtual College were busy demoing with their Enable LMS….an industry benchmark of evolved excellence in our view along with their growing library of content.

Kallidus attracted a lot of attention promoting a mobile enabled LMS, reported CEO Rob Caul (and it does look good!) as did Upside Learning who with Alan Samuel on-board are getting some serious profile now. Conor Gilligan was kept busy demonstrating Moodle 2.6 from Webanywhere which was attracting serious attention, as was Totara from vendors various including Webanywhere,  Kineo and Mindclick which certainly kept Martin Judd busy!

Accessplanit offering a tightly focused LMS reported lots of interest. Industry giants Cornerstone were certainly set up for meeting considerable demand at the talent management end of the market, as were the learning performance specialists Net Dimensions, who are doing well worldwide we learnt.

Both Saba and Kenexa were aiming at the Social learning angle of the LMS were busy stands. Fuse certainly play in this space very well indeed and have a commendable approach with their foundation.

This year saw the launch of the LRS at Learning Technologies, two companies debuted LRS’s this year the ever innovative HT2 launched an Open Source LRS and MD Ben Betts certainly has track record in innovation and has assembled a powerful team of collaborators including several key developers and crucially ADL’s Aaron Silvers.

Xyleme an innovative company from Boulder, Colorado has also lobbed an LRS rock (pun intended) into the pond ….sorry… market. Xyleme come from the LCMS perspective of the market and in our view are one of the most exciting companies in the market with Mark Hellenger one of the most perceptive CEOs in the industry.

Exact are another LCMS vendor were attracting a lot of interest, and we to see the LCMS market evolving and maturing quickly as companies seek to manage the growing libraries of digital content in increasing volatile learning environments. Exact really do understand the role of the LCMS and their track record in the NHS is second to none…and they do a really good demo!

Certpoint….now Infor are another vendor in the LMS and LCMS space……sadly they did not bring       K Tango to the show this year with their annual bag sponsorship tradition. This meant it was possible to travel on the train (not tube….note) from Olympia without looking like you had just attended a “Strictly Come Dancing” event…..never the less the LCMS looks good.

We note the arrival of Udutu in the UK in partnership with eLearning Studios, two excellent companies coming together….and games developer Totem is also part of this stable…..interesting. It was great to catch up with Roger Mundell of Udutu and with eLearning studio’s Nitin Thakrar…this will be a good team….Udutu have an interesting business model (disruptive would be another word) and eLearning studios produce some good content.

The debuting of the Learning Technologies GroupEpic and GoMo attracted a lot of interest. It was great to see Mike Alcock back (as MD of GoMo) demoing an authoring tool…this time GoMo. Mike’s demos “how to create e-learning” been a highlight of LT’s over the years! It was standing room only for this demo.

This tool is good, and Epic have already proved the quality in several projects already, and we are of the view that the now “well resourced” Learning Technologies Group could, with GoMo give Articulate (and others) something to worry about. Why, well unlike a lot of tools claiming to offer HTML5 and mobile delivery, this one has been designed from the outset to deliver just that, and is definitely not an upgrade of an existing codebase with all the associated issues that brings.

Disruption coming?…..Connect to Salesforce ( from Envisiontel) was an interesting development and we expect to see greater integrations with a variety of industry HR platforms (not new at the enterprise level) but also with CMS’s such as Kentico a proprietary platform used as a CPD academy for example and open source solutions such as WordPress, Drupal and Joomla. This development has great potential in the market to both disrupt and develop!

Staying with disruption We have long wondered when industry behemoths such as Google and corporate social networking vendors LinkedIn etc….would move into the corporate learning market…..can it be long? With the exception of Apple, the giants of the Internet are well represented at BETT but not Learning technologies….why is this….we asked this last year as well.

So how is the market…  

So, if we believe….and we still do that only 25% to 30% or so of UK corporates have an LMS there is lots of potential in this market, and as Virtual College’s Rod Knox blogged last year there must be a lot of tired LM’s out there as well, all needing replacing. At present there is no shortage of choice for buyers with vendors offering a wide range of solutions in a market that has been a little flat in recent years.

If you follow the Learning Light market analysis you will know that training spend is a function of the overall company performance and the wider economies performance. Put simply as the economy grows so will training expenditure! Secondly the uptake of e-learning and learning technologies which has benefited to some extent from the difficult economic times (as a means of saving money) is now exceptionally well placed to breakthrough as budgets loosen and attitudes change.

Naturally this happy situation does not just apply to LMS’s and other Learning Platforms such as LCMS and of course the LRS’s but also to the demand for e-learning content. Remember an LMS platform without content is an empty bucket (resist pun on Can).

Content will still be king…..this is our view from BETT and we see no difference in principle at Learning Technologies, (though this is one of the few similarities). Smart LMS vendors have been successfully integrating content into their offers for years…..we are always impressed by the sheer number of learners (1.2 million) serviced by Virtual College through their own LMS and with their own content.

We see several consequences of this market development…..LMS vendors internationally are paying more attention to content…..and with the market gorilla Skillsoft in play and absent from Learning Technologies this year there is much to play for in getting content partners on-board.

Bespoke content developers are certainly well positioned as this market in our view will remain buoyant and the expertise of LINE, Brightwave, Epic and Kineo etc…(all of whom seemed to be very popular stands for visitors) will continue to be valued for their expertise and learning creativity in high value learning programmes. However, take note with the arrival of G Cube into the market with their high quality development skills and very competitive prices which means competition!

e-learningWMB provided one of the most interesting new developments in content production with an interesting….disruptive development combining video presenters in interactive 3D virtual worlds…Emil RW was certainly busy demonstrating “Comed e-learning” with David Schneider (of Alan Partridge show fame).

What was interesting in off the shelf content….Gopas a Czech e-learning vendor had a strong library of Microsoft courses simulating the interactions to up-skill learners, we were very impressed by the Excel module. The ever present Lynda offered a bewildering range of content, the niche focus of Safety Media was also impressive.

Happy times….

So, happy times for LMS vendors who can flex their offer, LCMS and LRS vendors can look forward to a growing market, e-learning content developers who can really add value and finally we believe happy times for providers of quality curated e-learning courses.


Our apologies to all those companies we just did not have time to meet…..but if you wish to tell us about your company…..do get in touch.