It’s May 2022, which means the kickoff for the L&D and Training community to attend the biggest trade shows/expos in the industry. LTUK, the best in Europe and UK – and does attract an international audience, and ATD which grabs an international audience with the majority being from the U.S (the guide to see whom your should consider is next week.
The challenge with each of these events is that there are a lot of vendors pitching their systems, content, consulting firm, e-learning tool and other items, and you as the person walking the floor doesn’t necessarily know who to look at, who to seriously consider and who to avoid.
Sure you may have a short list based you X factors, but once you start to walk around, it is easy to be overwhelmed.
You will get that book of the vendors in their which you attempt to match to the app each show offers, then get frustrated and seek the recycle bin. As part of your package, sponsors of the shows will shove their stuff in these said bags – save time, and go to the recycle bin. I always found it interesting that a vendor will say all the pluses about caring for the planet and the environment and then turnaround and put a paper material in your bag. I have never met anyone who was so enticed they went to that booth, after reading that material, assuming they read it.
The Guide of Me
Forget the guide, and go with the guide of me. Expert 101. It is like having me on your app, or in your brain, whichever works for you.
I see a lot of vendors each year, and see all types of pitches. I track over 1,400 learning systems around the world. Over 100 course publishers. Over two dozen authoring tools and over 300 e-learning solutions – for the corporate side of the house.
When I attend a show, I know who is good, who is a time waster, who has no clue about the industry, and who gets a lot of attention, and will waste your time with amazing pitches and very little in the system.
This is my list of the vendors you should consider checking out. Granted there are always additional variables out there, and you may say, well, I need a system that can talk to me and ask me where to find the nearest Burger place.
Well, I can tell you that does not exist. Even if they did, could you really trust a learning system with your food options?
I bounced over to the LTUK exhibitors web site, and my G-D was it confusing, just like their map of vendor location (wait until you see it), their mobile app location of booths, and that booklet that is impossible to read when you have all that other stuff in your hands.
They could have just said “Learning Systems” and shoved all the LMS, LXP, learning platforms, skills platforms, coaching platforms, under the category, but NOOOOO.
I see learning management – two vendors, learning management software (huh?) – one vendor, learning management system- seven vendors, learning platform – five vendors, learning platforms – one vendor and I won’t even get to the LXP space. My gut says they received the tags from the vendors themselves, which if so, tells me that whomever oversees marketing, needs a crash course in marketing their system.
I clicked on Talent and HCM, and can tell you that nobody would confuse Civica with say an actual HCM. The majority of these vendors are not talent management systems, let alone an HCM. If you tell folks you are an HCM, and you want said folks looking only for learning, congrats you can say goodbye to landing them. Customer Ed? No way. I have never seen Civica as a talent management nor HCM. Workday? HCM. Cornerstone – assuming you buy every module HCM. SumTotal – you buy every mod – HCM. Lawson? HCM. SAP? HCM and ERP and the list goes on.
As you can see, those amazing categories, are not the way to go when finding the right solution for you.
Forget the categories, let’s go right to my list.
Learning Systems that you should consider (always based on your factors, which I do not know, but this is my take based on what I know about each)
- Absorb – Top 10 learning system for 2022. Targets employees and customer education – thus a combo. Best to purchase multiple modules from them – LMS, Engage, and Analytics. Strong in Enterprise, customer education, SMB too. They are on FindAnLMS.com – so you can compare them with other vendors if you so choose to. FindAnLMS.com is my platform, independent too.
- 5App – I’m on the fence with them. They are not there yet IMO, and the pitch is a bit wonky. If I was at the show, I would check them out. A work in progress. I’m intrigued.
- Access LMS – Outstanding in the FS space, ideal for Enterprise though. I can see them at mid-market too. You are buying them for their elite compliance and regulatory feature sets, not for social which is lacking nor NexGen which is lacking. Their mobile app which comes with the system, rocks. Especially the quiz component. If you ask, they will include FS specific courses/content when you buy. They may charge extra. Tell them, Craig Weiss says I should get it for free. Probably won’t work, but hey, who knows! They are on FindAnLMS.com too. Top 10 Learning System for 2022.
- Area9 Lyceum – Truly an adaptive learning platform, well that is the spin anyway. It is a learning platform with a different UI/UX angle. It comes with an authoring tool, which they think rocks, I found it severely lacking. Analytics are tied around their whole AL angle, which again, some of it is interesting, some isn’t. Loves to push the whole brain research aspect, which is a common thread with so-called, Adaptive learning platforms. Anyway, if you are into the adaptive learning approach, definitely check them out. They are the best for that side of the house but don’t buy into the whole NexGen angle – if they push it. I didn’t see it. Remember AI is machine learning, not a robot that brings you the remote.
- Bridge – Ideal for small businesses, mid-market, and some Enterprises. They do customer education too, so total combo. I love the “factoid” capability and the UX for the admin side is super easy – which is a huge win, especially for folks who are new to the learning system space and find some systems back-end to be challenging. Not a fan of the slide angle for an authoring tool, but you can add-on a strong authoring tool called Gomo. The analytics are solid. They offer a few add-ons, if you so choose. The wonky angle is that their e-commerce is tied into Shopify, so yea you get e-commerce for free, but pay for the Shopify account. A nice plus – they will help you with the setup, which is huge. Definitely a top 20 learning system.
Bookboon Learning. They pitch that they are known as the Netflix for Corporate learning. To whom exactly? I’ve seen them a couple of times, and each time I am intrigued but equally confused. I call them out, because if they push Netflix because they have a lot of content – the system that is, which isn’t free, then I’m the Great Library of Alexandria of ancient Egypt. And Voodoo is Anubis the Pittie.
Back to my List
- Civica – First they are not an HCM. Nobody would think, Civica? HCM! They are a learning platform that has nice capabilities. This is a nice system. Top 20 Learning System. Can be found on FindAnLMS.com.
- CoachHub – Another system that has let marketing push them as a talent development platform. Which is nice and confusing. A coaching platform. That is what they are. I’ve taken an in-depth look at the whole certification of the coaches angle, and well, it plays well. Anyway, the system is pretty strong in various areas as a coaching platform. Coaching BTW is not the same as mentoring, which I believe is better for employees including blue-collar.
- Cornerstone LMS – As a learning system, Cornerstone gets a bad rap. Competitors have done a great job pushing them as “traditional, old school, legacy”, even though the LMS is #1 in skills development capabilities (my template, over 80%), NexGen Tier 4 – in my leader’s section, robust in other capabilities, good mobile app. The system comes with Content Anytime, the course marketplace (you still pay for the content/courses), and has LXP capabilities too. It needs to improve the data visualization on the analytics side and update the UI/UX there as well. The funny thing about those vendors pushing Cornerstone as traditional – most do not have a content marketplace, most are poor in skills development capabilities, and most are sub-par for Nexgen. As I always say, Google arrived in 1996, and nobody says they are traditional. Top 10 Learning System for 2022, can be found on FindAnLMS.com
- Cypher Learning – MATRIX. NEO and INDIE. All three are virtually the same system, just an FYI. A minor tweak or two, but that’s about it. MATRIX is the corporate version, NEO is EdTech, Indie is for training providers. I prefer MATRIX, simply from the corporate side, but they also have EdTech clients on MATRIX. I am unsure about the cannibalization of each brand to one another, but that is for another discussion. Very easy to use, lots of features and capabilities. Not a buy for skills development, and this point. Very affordable. Ideal for SMB, but yes they have Enterprise and Large Enterprise too. Can be found on FindAnLMS.com
- D2L – A wonderful learning system. Lots of functionality and capabilities. I love the Bongo deep integration with the system. They sell a Corporate version and an EdTech version. I’m referring to Corporate here. They have a weakness though, the UI/UX needs an upgrade/enhancement, but if you can handle the “work in progress” on that side, this is a very robust system. I think they get a knock because they are known more for EdTech, which is a shame. Top 20 Learning System for 2022. Can be found on FindAnLMS.com.
- Degreed. A very good learning system. Skills wise – capabilities are very strong, and the UI/UX is quite good. Degreed Intelligence (an add-on, fee-based) is good, the gold though is Guidebooks which comes with it. The Coach aspect is fair and lacks key functionality, and Opportunities (another add-on) is a winner (but only if you want job role postings internally tied to skills). Metrics out of the box are okay. Some good, some UI upgrades are needed. Top Two Learning System for 2022. Big fan. Can be found in FindAnLMS.com.
- Docebo. Another very solid learning system. The downside – is way too many add-ons. I still am baffled on why “Discovery, Coach, and Share” is an additional cost – for Learn. It is a nice add-on, and the coaching side (which is not full coaching), Discovery of Content (it is not their AI- which I heard in a pitch), and sharing are overall good. I like the expert angle. Learning Analytics is far superior to what comes with the system, but it is too an add-on. Docebo Flow is intriguing, another add-on. Skills capabilities so far are fair, not a strength. Top 10 Learning System for 2022. Docebo Connect, another add-on is very cool, but not a fit for everyone. Can be found on FindAnLMS.com
- EdCast TXP – They pitch themselves as an LXP, which doesn’t do them justice. They are a very good learning system, a true TXP – Talent Dev Plus LXP, with some LMS functionality out of the box. Another vendor with add-ons. Their advanced analytics solution is very good, ideal for Large Enterprises. They are fully integrated within MS Teams – and wait, is far better than Microsoft’s Viva Learning that is built within MS Teams. They have a product similar to Connect, an API connection solution, whereas you select the APIs to connect to (based on a selection available), and then whammo – it’s nice. Skills Studio is a win, albeit the UI needs to improve. Top two Learning System for 2022 (it was a tie). Number one Learning System in 2021. A big fan of them too. Can be found on FindAnLMS.com – If you are intersted in seeing how Degreed, EdCast, and Fuse matchup – read my post on all three.
- Eurekos – A very modern learning system in the customer education market. Has a lot coming down the pipe as I say, but every time I see them, they get better and better. One of the few vendors in the entire industry, that bills monthly – thus you only pay for X per month is true. Very affordable. Great for all sizes of companies. Top 15 Learning System for 2022. Number two learning system for the customer education space for 2022. Can be found on FindAnLMS.com.
- Fuse – Number one learning system for 2022. Human-Centric to the tilt. Best for employees, Enterprise 5,000 end users and up. Although 2,500 and up will work quite well too. Metrics are the best in the industry, hands-down. UI/UX is getting an upgrade, which will be nice. I’ve written far more on them, in my Top 10 Learning Systems post. A personal fav. Can be found on FindAnLMS.com.
- Learn Amp – Number three Learning System for 2022. UI/UX is definitely different than the rest of the industry. Love this system, but the lack of a mobile app drives me up the wall. Skills development is a work in progress. Top system for mid-market. Strong in Enterprise. Can be found on FindAnLMS.com.
Let’s show more
For space purposes, this isn’t Moby Dick here, my list of other vendors is worthy of a checkout.
- enabley – Lots to love. So much potential it oozes like a slice of vegan cheese on a pizza. Seriously though, my “watching you” vendor for 2022. Check them out on FindAnLMS.com
- eLearning Brothers – Rockstar LP – up and coming system. Check them out on FindAnLMS.com.
- IMC Learning Suite – Needs a UI/UX upgrade, but other than that, nice system. Check them out on FindAnLMS.com.
- Juno Journey – Outstanding learning system. Another true TXP. UI/UX is far different than the industry as a whole, but this system rocks. Top 20 for 2022. Big win – on top of the ability to select skills, you can also select interests. I love that. Check them out on FindAnLMS.com.
- LearnUpon – Another top 20 learning system for 2022. Ideal for 900 or less employees. Feature-wise, quite strong. Plays Enterprise and association too. Check them out on FindAnLMS.com.
LinkedIn Learning – Overrated. Overrated. The content is so-so, but folks overall love it. I question how long someone can watch a video, err series of videos in one sitting or even 10. Some content is outdated. The Hub angle? Please, it is like four features. Here is my review on LinkedIn Learning with the Hub. They have the money to make this system be AWESOME, but they are not doing that. I guess, they figure you will buy them, because of their name. Great social platform (although the streams thing has to go), but the learning platform is a whole other story.
Back to my list
- Netex Learning Cloud – Another wonderful system for the 900 or fewer employees market. Definitely worth a check. Check them out on FindAnLMS.com.
- Odlio – Befuddling is one word to describe this platform. By far the most content assets in the industry (all fee-based, it is a buy a seat get access to everything angle). The Learner side is rich, luxurious, just amazing. The Learning Experience (their term) page is yuck. Admin is solid. Very expensive system, another major bummer. I keep waiting for them to make some changes – if they do, another story. Definitely worth a watch.
- Skillshub – Are they number one for skills development capabilities? The answer is no, but the UI/UX is solid, the system offers a lot of capabilities and has a lot of potential. Clearly a top 50 learning system.
- Tesseract – KREDO is the system to check out here. 900 or fewer employees – winner. Plays solid with Enterprise. Top 25 Learning System. A lot to like. Easy to use, feature-rich. Continues to get better. Check them out on FindAnLMS.com.
- Thinkqi – Another system that adds to the unknown world. Nice system, nice capabilities, someone to consider and explore. Another potential, just waiting to break thru. Needs some tweaks and enhancements.
- Valamis – Once they pushed themselves as customer ed focused, now that message has disappeared. Makes sense, especially after acquiring a system that plays more on the employee dev side. Not an LXP, another marketing push they once did. Just a very solid system. A work in progress IMO, with a lot, lacking, but enough I think for a good swath of folks. Metrics are solid. Can be found on FindAnLMS.com
- OpenSesame – Awesome content aggregator
- GO1 – Another wonderful content aggregator
- Watershed LRS – I use them for my new FindContent platform – yep, an LRS in FindContent’s course platform. Big fan.
- Rustici Software – A lot of vendors use them for their learning systems. Big-time winner.
- Training Orchestra – A true training management system – i.e. focus on scheduling first and foremost. Can find them on FindAnLMS.
- StoryTagger – Hard to explain, honestly, have to see it – I think more of a storyteller type of solution, you can judge.
- LTG – PeopleFluent. Gomo. Instilled. Bridge and the list goes on for learning systems. Not sure what is at their booth, but they also own Rustici and Watershed LRS. This is more of an FYI than anything else. Wonderful group of people there.
- dominKnow – Cloud-based authoring tool. Very good. Can be a tad cumbersome for some folks, just because it can do a lot. ID folks will love it. Beginners can do quite a bit too. Outstanding help too.
- BetterUp – Mental well-being system.
- iAM Learning – Nice course/content provider
- Course Merchant – An E-commerce solution, that can take your courses and content and show it off is a very slick way if you so choose. This is for learning first and foremost.
- iSpring – Very easy to use authoring tool. They also sell an LMS that is ideal for 500 or fewer employees.
- Articulate – Storyline dominates here. If you are an ID or e-learning developer this is a tool you should have in your toolbox (along with dominKnow). For beginners, limitations – I mean, you can create stuff, because they took Studio and basically shoved it in here, but to take it to a whole new level, you need to have e-learning development experience. Still a top-tier authoring tool.
If you have never attended LTUK, you are in for a treat. Wonderful show, with speed bumps. If you are staying out by ExCel which many do since they show is there, you will get to experience the lack of restaurants in the area, the sound of the airplanes landing at the London City airport (trust me, they start early, and go later than what they tell you), and the thrill of paying a lot to go into London or any of the areas around it for a meal.
My recommendation is to download the GETT app (which is like Uber but for black cabs) and use that. It is the app I use when I am in London, which is a lot. Never pay out of pocket in a black cab, which is now all different colors, but that’s another discussion.
If you are staying in the city, and landing at London Heathrow, take the London Express (a train from there) and be in the city in 20 minutes. You will thank me later.
Anyone who attended past LTUK shows at Olympia can tell you, that the ExCel experience is far better.
That’s the plus of it all.
The exhibition navigation and vendors to explore is well,
Something entirely else.
This is why, my guide for systems and solutions to check out, will help you greatly.
Far more than the book they provide.
Or the app for that matter too.
Happy booth searching!