Learning & Talent System Buying on the Rise, Again!

Learning & Talent System Buying on the Rise, Again!

But Our Annual Readership Survey Notes A Decreasing Satisfaction In System Performance: Users Craving Broader Features.

Forty-five percent of organizations plan to add, change or replace their Learning or Talent system in the next 12 months according to the Learning & Talent System Buyer Survey conducted May 2012. Additionally, 83 percent plan to add, change or replace them in the next 24 months.

However, learning professionals will actually spend less this year (an average of $439,000 per organization) than last year ($590,400) on their systems.

This research — compiled from 245 respondents — provides a perspective on brand and product awareness, buyer satisfaction, must-have features, and a profile of new LMS and TMS buyers.

Talent suites are increasing in popularity. They now penetrate into 22 percent of the market, up from 16 percent in 2011. And an additional 41 percent of respondents say that they plan to purchase a new system, which will, in effect, triple the installed base. SaaS-based TMSs account for 19 percent, almost 200 percent higher than 2011, but enterprise TMSs account for 3 percent, 50 percent lower than 2011.

System satisfaction has dropped slightly (See also Chart 2.) LMS and TMS owners grade their current systems from 2.18 (Interoperability) to 2.85 (Reliability) on a four-point scale, indicating a lack of satisfaction across a number of variables. Last year, the range was 2.2 to 2.8.

The study reports 23 percent of LMS owners use an enterprise system (versus 26 percent in ’10); 38 percent use SaaS/Cloudbased LMS (versus 44 percent in ’11); and 7 percent open-source LMS (down from 8 percent). Seven percent now report Other, including custom, in-house or vendor supplied. (See Chart 1)



>> 82 percent of respondents have an LMS/TMS installed, level with 2011. Approximately 1.4 systems are deployed in the typical respondent’s organization.

>> For the second year, SumTotal Systems leads in brand ownership,  maintaining an 11 percent share. From there, a lot of shifts have occurred. Saba dropped from second to fifh. Custom Solution tied with Skillsoft at 7 percent,  followed closely by Oracle (second in 2011) and Cornerstone On Demand (fifth in 2011) at 6 percent share. SuccessFactors, Saba (second in 2011), Net Dimensions (11th in 2011) and Moodle (10th in 2011) all come in at 5 percent share. Blackboard, a top-five brand in the past, dropped to 2 percent share, the same as NetLearning, Meridian KSI, Operitel and Absorb. (See Chart 5)

>> 18 percent of respondents do not own an LMS or TMS.

>> Of non-owners, 26 percent do not track learning or talent assets, down from 37 percent in 2011; 22 percent use in-house custom tracking solution (up from 17 percent in 2011); and 13 percent use database application (up from 4 percent), while 22 percent use a spreadsheet to track learning assets (down from 42 percent in 2011).

>> 96 percent of future buyers indicate a platform preference for their next LMS
or TMS. Cloud/SaaS LMS accounts for 54 percent of future purchases.

>> 71 percent of TMS owners are using their system across multiple locations
versus 69 percent in 2011, and 31 percent support multi-national sites versus 37 percent in 2011.

>> While 84 percent of respondents use their LMS/TMS to support employees (versus 91 percent in 2011), 53 percent report supporting external constituents (versus 46 percent in 2011).


>> Buyers are seeking more capabilities, including Integrated Reporting (71 percent), Mobile Authoring (68 percent) and Social Network Tools (41 percent). New to the list is Cloud/ SaaS Systems (44 percent). (See Chart 4)

>> Talent system buyers’ top “must-haves” in their future systems are Performance Management (46 percent), Reviews (44 percent) and Skills Gap Analysis (44 percent).

>> Among important factors to consider when buying a new system, Price still leads, but Customer Service jumps to No. 2 over Quality. (See Chart 3)

>> Drops in importance are also reported for Interoperability (declines 13 points), Open Architecture (declines 4 points) and Reputation (declines 5 points). With increased cloud specification, interoperability becomes less  important. Awards increases 140 percent and SCORM Compliance increases 10 percent in importance for today’s buyer.


Eighty-nine percent of owner respondents can name their LMS brand, level with 2011. Seven percent of owners name multiple LMS brands. Fify-nine percent of TMS owners name their brand, down from last year’s 68 percent. Eight percent have multiple TMSs deployed in the organization, down from 11 percent in 2011. (See Chart 5)

>> Respondents were asked to name the top three LMS or TMS brands that came to mind, unprompted. Eighty-four percent of respondents could name at least one brand of LMS, down from 95 percent in 2011.

>> For the second year, SumTotal Systems leads in brand recognition, maintaining an 11 percent share.

>> Moodle (+47 points), SkillSoft (+47) and Blackboard (+33) lead in Improvement in awareness from unprompted to prompted queries. Saba returns to the top brand (unprompted), followed closely by Blackboard, which edges out SumTotal Systems for 2012. Saba drops in unprompted awareness, but at a slower rate than SumTotal, which declines 16 points in unprompted awareness in 2012.

>> Further consolidation across the LMS category results in significant loss of brand awareness for Taleo, Plateau and GeoLearning — now marketed under Oracle, SAP and SumTotal Systems, respectively. Tis creates opportunity for independent brands, including NetDimensions, Meridian KSI and others.

>> When furnished with a list of LMS brands (prompted), the top brands were Moodle (65 percent), edging out Blackboard (64 percent), with Saba (57 percent) dropping to No. 3.

>> Of owners, top TMS brands owned are: (1) Oracle 26 percent (versus 2011 with Peoplesoft’s 13 percent and Taleo’s 8 percent); SuccessFactors and Inhouse/ Custom-built tied at 10 percent; Cornerstone On Demand and Rypple tie at 5 percent share. ADP, Workday, Kenexa, Halogen, Meridian KSI and Silkroad are all at 3 percent.

>> With continued mergers and acquisitions within the learning supplier industry, we see many shifts in LMS brand ownership. The consolidation seems to have created a migration to independent LMS brands with Cornerstone On Demand and NetDimensions benefiting most.

>> In 2012, respondents had to specify a TMS (not an LMS) in the prompted responses. Some brand rankings suffered from this change in query.

>> Unprompted, 67 percent of respondents can name one or more TMS brands, down from 75 percent in 2011.

>> Consolidated brands do not retain 100 percent of brand awareness ratings from their acquired brands in 2011 or 2012. For example, if Oracle and Taleo are totaled together from 2011 scores, the combined ratings are 80 percent  unprompted and 124 percent prompted. In 2012, their scores were 76 percent and 38 percent, a combined decline for 2012.

>> TMS brands that improved awareness year over year are Cornerstone On Demand (+29 points) and Silkroad (+11).

>> Top TMS brands, when prompted, are: Oracle/Peoplesof (52 percent), Cornerstone On Demand (49 percent), Saba (40 percent), Taleo Talent by Oracle (38 percent) and SumTotal Systems (32 percent). All but Cornerstone On Demand and Halogen show declines in brand awareness since 2011, indicating loss of brand power of acquired assets and continued fragmentation of the market.


Elearning! and Government Elearning! magazines executed a 29-question Web-based survey to executive subscribers from corporate business, government, non-profit and educational institutions. During the data collection period of May 20 through June 20, 2012, participants were contacted through an email invitation with an embedded URL link to take the online survey. Magazine editors compiled and tabulated the results of 245 completed surveys.

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