Author: Craig Weiss
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The market continues to grow, but with that growth numerous changes are taking place. Because of my new approach to the rankings for 2021, mid-year rankings are part of the selection process, and tracking of the Top 10, and those out of the top 10, will continue right up to final rankings for 20-21 for LXP/DLP and then the top five are placed into a “pool” if you will, of other top-ranked learning systems in various verticals and horizontals, for consideration in the 2021-22 Top 20 Rankings.
Prior to jumping into the rankings, here are some key takeaways that is happening right now in this segment of the industry.
1. The term LXP is fading. More and more vendors are calling themselves digital learning platforms (DLP). Which is really the best route to go. LXP is a)vague, b)never really caught on with most people, c)confuses folks to what it is, d)other learning systems not in this segment are using “learning experience” as part of their messaging, which again, confuses folks.
2. Learner-Centric is being phased out. The initial reason on why the LXP market took off was the whole messaging push of these systems being learner-centric compared to an LMS, and that content-driven is a key angle to this, while LMSs are not that. Which of course isn’t accurate, but anyway.
3. The main reason learner-centric is disappearing in overall messaging is directly tied to what is occurring in this segment as we speak.
- Assigned learning is huge. It is clearly becoming more and more incorporated into this segment, and as a result, can create misleading output on “recommended”, “most popular/trending” playlists that end users can see.
Scenario: You have 5,000 learners in the LXP/DLP. 2,500 receive the exact same assigned content (which is always a “must complete” with due dates). The others scatter on the assigned content, with some getting the same piece of content, and not necessarily the series.
The system, which is using machine learning, is looking at this data and therefore when it outputs on most popular/trending – the content in the assigned is going to be higher than anything else, because of usage. And the cycle continues. Recommended, same results. There are a few vendors who say, that “most popular” is only based on that learner and what they are taking – but again, if it is assigned, and to me specifically, I’m going to be taking it.
4. Vendors in this space want into the B2B/B2C (customer education, partner education, aka Extended Enterprise -EXE) market (includes associations). The problem? Assigned for one isn’t something folks tend to do in this vertical, and secondly, you need e-commerce, oh and thirdly multi-tenant, and lastly, metrics aligned to this specific segment of the market.
There are only a couple of vendors today, that can do this. It is rare for someone running L&D to be doing customer training/education, especially if the objective is to make it a profit center. Who is doing it? Majority are folks with “training” as part of their title (associations may list the title as director of education, fyi).
5. Upskilling is all the rage. Messaging is pushing heavy on this, yet you rarely see re-skilling, which from a current pandemic situation with the number of folks out of work, you would think someone would have a light bulb moment, and recognize that reskilling is a serious need.
6. Some vendors are angling “performance support”, which I personally think is the wrong message. See #4 – because that spin of performance support will go over like a lead balloon for folks wanting customer education. You want performance support? Purchase either an HCM with performance management as a add-on or use a system that auto comes with performance mgt, along with their learning.
7. Systems are becoming so more and more like LMSs, and even a couple are inching closer to performance management systems. Innovation is way down across the learning system space, and never more so, than is this segment. Doesn’t mean everyone isn’t innovating, but if you are relying heavily on what your clients want, innovation typically doesn’t go hand in hand.
8. Pre-assessment tied to a personality test, will be hot in 2021. There are systems with pre-assessment capabilities, but this is specifically tied to a personality test, and then the output is content based on your personality.
CK Connect is designed specifically in this manner, and already two other vendors are building it as we speak. A vendor in Lithuania, BitDegree does the same thing, although they do not push out content based on your results. I’m a Paragon.
Top Three Features a series of vendors in this segment are adding
- Manager capabilities
- Classroom management – which uh, isn’t a good idea at the moment, rather they should be focusing on more event management feature sets, especially wrapped around vILT
- MS Teams – Microsoft Teams integration. Some do a way better job than others. EdCast IMO is the best full integration I’ve seen so far.
Before jumping into the rankings, I know some folks will be looking for the vendor, Fuse, who is not in the rankings. Here is why:
- The company is pushing the message that they are a NexGen Learning Solution, aka NexGen Learning Ecosystem. The LXP message is out.
- Multiple execs I talked at the company have told me, they do not see themselves as an LXP. I totally concur, for the last two years, I told them they are a NexGen Learning Ecosystem.
- I like Fuse, but they are an LMS, and there isn’t anything wrong with that. This is a solution that can be your hub and comes with enough to be a true NexGen Learning Ecosystem (i.e. your hub), which uh, they are.
Top 10 Rankings
Every vendor in the mid-year rankings can be found on Findanlms.com (in the platform). For a true comparison, login and select the vendors and you will see what each has and if it is different from the other. Please note, the rankings – there is not a requirement to be in FindAnLMS, it doesn’t weigh or impact the analysis. As I’ve mentioned so many times before, the goal is to have the best systems in the world on one platform, hence they are.
BTW for folks seeking Digital Learning Platform on FindAnLMS, select “DLP” in the system type. Many vendors who are a DLP, still list themselves as an LXP, so best to do DLP first, then go back and change search type to LXP.
#10 360Learning – Totally a digital learning platform. They pitch themselves as the first collaborative learning platform, which isn’t accurate. So, recognize it for what it is – marketing. Marketplace is good. UI/UX is outstanding.
#9 Stream LXP – From the folks at LearningPool. The system has the basics for the LXP/DLP market including social, playlists, machine learning (they call it AI), strong curation with an automatic integration from Anders Pink (very good curation vendor) and the Learning Locker LRS (Learning Pool are the owners of Learning Locker).
The UI and UX is solid. I am not a fan of chatbots in any learning system, and this one is no different. Plus “natural language” is a serious stretch, but if it works for marketing, uh, good for them. Management features, assigned learning and a solid content marketplace make up a few additional items.
#8 Absorb Infuse – The very quiet sibling to the Absorb LMS, but one that should be on the hills of some famous place. Very good UI/UX on learner and administration side. Mobile is strong. Integrations are outstanding and so is the content marketplace.
#7 THRIVE – A very solid system, that continues to improve. I’d argue they are better suited under the moniker of a digital learning platform. UI/UX is good. Skill management features include skill ratings and the ability to create your own library of skills and definitions (on admin side). Coaching is okay and could use a few additional items (web cam coaching component for one). Marketplace is good. Mobile apps (iTunes and Google Play) exist.
#6 CK Connect – I recommend reading my review on the system –HERE. This is still a work in progress, but the potential just oozes. I still love the personality pre-assessment, especially since they have on their roadmap the ability for clients to upload their own personality pre-assessment to use instead of the one in the system. Clever. If someone says they can truly assign content that is personalized to you and can’t/doesn’t offer a personality pre-assessment, then it is not 100% truly personalized for you. System is not in FindAnLMS, but will be by end of June. System is a digital learning platform. And can be purchased as a standalone (i.e. you do not need to buy CrossKnowledge Learning Suite).
#5 Instilled LXP – What can I say but Ding Dong! Just a wonderful solution, especially if you are someone who has a lot of video content and want to tap into the playlists and all other standards you see in the LXP space. The UI/UX on the end-user side is quite good and on administration the UI is equally strong. The UX for adding content to your playlist on the admin side, still needs improvement. Auto-transcription with search is outstanding. Data visualization rocks thanks to Watershed LRS which is in the system. Mobile is quite good. I always liked this solution, and it continues to deliver. Still needs some things, but I think they are on the right path. Now, just change from LXP to DLP and you are set to go.
#4 Learn Amp – Very strong digital learning platform. If you are seeking a system with an eye towards assigned learning and all that contains within, then this is your system. Feature updates (coming soon) include a new home landing page for end-users which shows their stats including most popular day of the week. I personally loved the metrics they showed with the learner (they can see it). Skills management is good. This is a robust system, and learners can still select their own content (but you go to a screen on the system and it appears in a grid format, which IMO needs to change). System lacks mobile apps, a bummer. Data visualization on admin side, is good. MS Teams integration is coming soon. UI/UX is outstanding. Social is good, machine learning is equally good. System is ideal for SMB/SME (small-medium size enterprise) and mid-market. Can scale up to 10,000. Content marketplace is good.
#3 Origin Fractal LXP – An LXP on steroids is the best way to describe this platform. Not as well-known, in fact, I suspect most people will be like, “who?”. UI/UX is good. System has all the standards for the LXP market, but has additional items including e-commerce, a very strong coaching component, skills management is strong too – example: system can generate a playlist based on skill rating/skill level. Analytics include KPI option. They are one of only a few systems that can scan documents, courses, content, audio and video files and produce results, which interestingly enough is a very popular feature among folks seeking systems, as of late. Mobile apps are there for iTunes and Google Play, with on/off synchronization. System has classroom management too. Solid marketplace. Bonus – Your system can be live ready to go in less than two months.
The Top Two
#2 Degreed – Whoa Nellie! This is really a very strong LXP in the space. The new learner UI is a major upgrade over the previous version. UX as well. Admin side, well, with one of their views it is great, but they still show and outdated (for 2020) look with the analytics tied overall to the system. Data visualization exists, but sheesh, time to change here. Offers the assigned learning capability. Strong in that area too.
Skills management continues to be outstanding. Skill Ratings are still quite strong. Coaching is good, but could be better. Content marketplace is awesome. Social well, same ol same, that I see elsewhere. Playlists are very good. I’m not a fan of the option to add on their new HR solution to the LXP, as I feel it changes the whole dynamic of what the system is supposed to be about – learning/training, and turns it into this amalgamation of talent development with learning pieces. AKA as a talent management system. Mobile is outstanding. Capabilities you can do in mobile is quite good.
#1 EdCast – I know folks will compare Degreed to EdCast (and I recommend doing so on my FindAnLMS platform), and each system has their own strengths (future blog in June will do a true comparison of Degreed, Fuse and EdCast). Learner and Admin UI/UX is outstanding. Playlists and machine learning capabilities are elite. Their marketplace is fantastic and you can even search to find instructors and upload your own content and sell it to others (i.e. other clients in the system). Mobile is good. They just added classroom management, and manager features. System can play easily in B2B/B2C and association space. They offer a system specifically for SMB/SME called Spark, but between you and me, it is the exact same system as the EdCast platform itself, so you are not getting anything different. Skills management is solid, but needs some additional items. Digital coaching is solid, another area to improve upon. Data visualization and metrics you can capture – outstanding. Assigned learning is doable in the system, strong area. I still find the learner-centric piece to be really really good though.
There you go, the top 10 mid-year rankings of the LXP/DLP space.