It’s that time of the year, to announce my Top 50 Learning Systems for 2020, starting off with the rankings of #50 to #40.
A couple of points, before diving in:
- The analysis was based on an extensive criterion, that will be covered shortly.
- There was no fee, no application to complete to be considered, anything like that. No money changed hands, no quid pro quo or pay for play.
- The initial list of vendors for consideration was 1,000 around the world. From there, the list was whittled down until the Top 50 were identified.
- If your vendor isn’t on the list, it doesn’t mean they are a bad system or whatever. You may love your system, and I’m totally cool with that. This is my perspective, it is independent, honest and fair.
- The number of clients a vendor had, was not a factor in the process.
- How many years the vendor has been out, not a factor.
- Financial consideration was a factor, but not a high weight, i.e. not a major impact, but a criteria component.
- A vendor was not required to be in my learning system search engine, FindAnLMS to be considered. Nor did it have any impact on the results.
- The criteria cover the entire Top 50 Learning Systems, so as the rankings go on, I will just link back to this post, covering the criteria,
How the Posts will be published
A little different this year, so ‘out of the box’. #50-#40 is covered in this post. If the vendor is on the FindAnLMS platform, starting next week, you can view my Take in the details of their listing. Right to the point includes pros and cons.
This Wednesday the rankings on the blog continue with #39 to #30. Later that week, #29-20. Then it gets fun. The week of the 19th, #10 to #1. A twist! Then later in the week, #19-11.
If the system is on FindAnLMS, there will be their final ranking listed within their listing. But, you can search Top 50, Top 20, Top 10 (as a filter) and you will see those systems that slide under those groupings.
If you zip on over to Linkedin or are following me on Twitter, you will see the final rankings for #11 to #20. No reason why I posted on the 10th of January, just decided to provide people with the rankings. Think of it as a bonus box of treats, and not socks that you normally get from your relatives.
As always for any system, the criteria that I use may not be what you use. And that for any system, I strongly recommend that you book a demo first to check out the system, ask the right questions, and so forth.
Some folks will ask where is the link to the system (i.e. their web site). I’m doing it a bit differently this year. So rather than just a web link on the rankings, and seeing some web sites that tell you nothing about their system or lack of details, which doesn’t help you in any way, the FindAnLMS, platform, will provide you with a wealth of info that will help you make an informed decision, including going to their site if you so choose.
Criteria and Methodology
As in the past, I weighted numerous components in a system, with some being higher in weight than others. I also placed vendors into various categories, based on their top three verticals, target audience size, type of system and customer-base – however, there was no impact in terms of data calculation Finally, support, training and technical were each individually computed, with support being weighted higher than the other two, but each still receiving data points based on a trend line that I calculated for the industry.
Verticals, Target audience, Type of System and Audience Base
On the vertical side, data was not weighted any differently depending on the vertical, rather what was done, was to put vendors into containers, as a part of the process. Thus if you have a system that only targets association, then we deciding who is say the top system in the association market, you wouldn’t place a vendor who focuses only on manufacturing into the same container. In the final rankings, I will list provide a top two for various verticals, for those folks who are interested.
The target audience was a bit different. If the system targets mid-market, then they were compared to other systems that are mid-market. Same if a vendor targets small businesses (500 or fewer employees), then they should be compared to others in that same market. Enterprise is a bit of a misnomer because nowadays a vendor can place Enterprise to any number of employees. You might find one vendor that says 300 or more employees, another is 1,000, or 5,000, rarely do I find someone who says 10,000 plus (which is the number defined in commerce sites and even during legacy days).
Most systems in the industry target mid-market.
If a system focused on only association, customer-training, B2B or B2C as their primary or only, then certain feature sets were weighted differently, then a system that is employee-only or employee primary. Thus if a system doesn’t have e-commerce because they are employee-only, they should not be weighted the same for that feature, compared to a vendor who does because they are customer training focused.
Thus some functionality or sets of functionality were weighted higher than other sets.
Type of system
Because so many learning systems are ubiquitous from a feature set, they were placed into an entire grouping for the rankings. That said, in one area was a different weight calculated in terms of functionality versus another type of system – which was common feature standards.
- NexGen feature sets – played an important role. Tier 1, Tier 2 and of course Tier 3.
- Support – it is the number one reason, why people leave one system for another, yet is usually overlooked with folks looking to buy a system. If asked it is minimal. For this analysis, it was extensive including customer ticket ratios, which again, nearly no asks a vendor for, but I believe is an invaluable metric to know.
- UI/UX – Always plays a role here, but with brain-based systems (coined not by me, but by the vendor themselves, so if you want how studies validating it, or metrics, contact the vendor, please), the UI has fluctuated more than in the past. Thus, UX was weighted more than UI but still, UI was relevant. Equally, I separated out learning side versus administration side and did data weights on each area.
- Functionality across the board.
- Common Standards in the industry, for various types of systems. You have to have the basics here, so if you are missing some feature that is a standard from like eight years ago, you will lose some points compared to others. This is the only area, where the type of systems weighed differently, due to that component.
- Metrics and Data Visualization – I separated this out from NexGen because I truly believe it deserves a weight variance compared to most of the other NexGen feature sets. It will play a huge role in systems in 2020.
- Content and Content marketplace – Another biggie for 20-21 and thus any system who says they are not in the content business is fooling themselves. Thus if you are a vendor who provides the content to their customers for free, or has a marketplace where clients can purchase content for their end-users, then you are in luck, because it had a weight higher than others.
Other items for the analysis
- Technical and Security
- Training – if the system had its own training department, they scored higher in this category compared to a system that did not.
- Financial Track Record – Nobody wants to buy a system that is sitting on slippery ground.
- Target Audience aka target market size.
- Whether they had a potluck or not. Just kidding! I was seeing if you are paying attention. So, please do not rant about your vendor having one and thus that should play a role. Now if you got sick, I want to know!
Each of the finalists provided a vendor video. These will be added to my site in February, so you can check them out.
Rankings #50 to #40 (unless otherwise noted, can be found on FindAnLMS, so to take a deeper dive on feature sets, pricing, user, etc., please head over there)
50. Udutu – I know a lot of folks are going to be wondering, how did they get in, when so and so did not. I think they are ideal for less than 500 employees but can easily go to 1,000. Strengths include assessment, administration (scored a perfect 25/25), manager capabilities in the system and certificate management. I’m not a fan of them charging extra for their mobile app, and they offer multi-tenant. This is a very streamlined system and affordable.
49. Percipio LXP – An LXP with a kick too it. The system comes with IBM Talent Watson, which really is a very strong component. They now have 3rd party content providers in their system, which when you buy the system, you receive a certain number of them as part of your base package.
48. UpsideLMS – Ranked in the #50 in 2019 too. Solid system with some cool feature sets. Big wins include a very robust content curation component, solid skills management including the ability for the system to generate a playlist based on a skill rating, skill level or any other skills-related component. Video management is solid, but in 2020 watch for the video transcript capability including scanning the video to extract text that you can click on and go right to that spot. It offers a native mobile app for iTunes and Google Play. Multi-Tenant available too. Best for employees. SMB ideal plays well in mid-market too. Enterprise is doable.
47. SmarterU – There is a lot of buzz around SmarterU, and overall I can see why. Multi-tenant, strong UI/UX, assessment tool and e-commerce. If you are someone seeking social, this is not the system for you. Native mobile app a nice win, but at this time, it lacks on/off synch. Certificate management strong. Very good customer support and training. I like where they are going on the roadmap for 2020. Plays well in customer training/B2B, and some B2C. Mid-market for employees. Enterprise.
46. Platcore – Okay, this is going to be a bit confusing so bear with me. In order to have the learning platform of Platcore, you need to purchase first, the ServiceNow platform. Then you can buy ServiceNow LMS. Personally, I’d change the name of the system, and while I’d love it to be standalone without you having to buy ServiceNow, I totally understand why that isn’t the case. That said, the analytics/metrics are extremely strong, multi-tenant, 500+ certified ServiceNow connectors plus with a Zapier integration of more than 1,500 total. I’m a huge fan of any system that includes a sandbox after you go-live, which Platcore offers. In skills management, the ability to match skill or a series of skills to a piece of content/playlist is a very nice win. Market size is a bit different, because of the whole you need the ServiceNow platform. This is a system for employees though. Enterprise.
45. Ethos CE (Currently not in FindAnLMS) – Are you in the medical field? Would you love to find the best system for the medical industry? Well, come on down, if you need CEs, CEUs or CMEs tied to medical because at EthosCE it is here for you (ending of the auto commercial narrator). The system’s e-commerce is amazingly good, albeit it does not come with VAT functionality built-in (I wish it would). For CMEs compliance reporting is sent to ACCME board thru an inbuilt reporting capability to ACCME via web services. Drag and drop widgets on the learner side BTW is in the system, A nice win. Regulatory capabilities exist quite well. The biggest minus is the lack of multi-lingual. Only available in English.
44. Administrate – If you are seeking a typical LMS, then this is not the system for you. This is a system that I believe could easily slide into a Sales Enablement Platform if they so choose to go that route. The reason I say this is that the system comes with a CRM, not a common feature in an LMS, let alone learning platform. E-commerce is quite strong, certificate management is outstanding, tasks lists (for those who are fans) is good as well. System to me plays better on the B2B/customer training side of the house, but I can see how folks with employees might want to give it a go. Solid with analytics, including KPIs. Another system to bypass if you are into social. Customer Training/B2B is ideal. Mid-market.
43. eThink Education – I always hear from folks who ask me why isn’t Moodle ever considered, well to these folks, I say – eThink. eThink is a partner for Totara too, but I am focusing solely on Moodle Workspace, which upon a deep view, just surprised me in a good way. What eThink has done is take something that I think will surprise others – it’s Moodle’s true entrant into the corporate side of the house, IMO, and customized the platform to a whole new level. I’d dump the “Education” part of the name, only because it implies something else, and get folks thinking, well, eThink. Features that folks enjoy such as multi-tenant, solid administration and learning environment functionality exist. Skills management is acceptable, I’d like to see it pushed a bit. Support and Training are quite good. Mid-market, although you can easily push eThink into the 10,000+ employee size. Enterprise.
42. BizLibrary – I can hear it now, okay read it now. Someone will let me know that BizLibrary is a content provider so why are they ranked in learning systems? Well, the answer is simple, they have an LMS too. Yes, you can buy content from them (on my Grid of content provider leaders in 2020 – coming next month), and you can get the LMS if you buy the content, but you can also buy the LMS as a standalone without their content if you so choose. I’ve always liked BizLibrary’s system. It is streamlined but provides enough functionality for someone to like. The UX is always good, and it continues to do so. This is an affordable system that I feel plays best in SMB, up to 1,000 employees. Administration functionality will deliver what you need. Certificate management, assessment tool are all there. Better suited for employees.
41. Juno Journey – An LXP to watch in 2020. There is a lot to like here with this system. Content curation is tight, UI and UX on the learner and administration side is quite good. Skills management is a big win and the platform itself has a lot going for it. The administration is quite good, and the playlists’ capabilities are solid. While the LXP space as a whole isn’t strong in the analytics/metrics, Juno fits mid-range in the group. This is a system on the upward trend, and their roadmap is telling me, to pay attention. If I was a vendor in the LXP market, then you should as well. Mid-market is ideal, plays well in SMB/SME too. Enterprise.
40. Axonify (Currently, not in FindAnLMS). Pitches themselves as a micro-learning platform, but micro-learning is a)any system can do that, b)duration is misleading since it is based on your learning style and time is arbitrary – what takes you three minutes, could take me 10. But, this isn’t rankings based on spin. What the system does offer is a wonderful set of functionality, from outstanding content curation to gamification and game-based learning. Analytical data and metrics are very good. The administration and the learning environment is equally good. This is a system for employees and only employees. Mid-market. Enterprise
There they are the first group of systems in The Top 50 Learning Systems for 2020. Ready to see who slides into the second group of ranked systems (39-30)? Well, in just a few days, they are coming your way.
In the meantime, I’ll be here.