According to our sources, the e-learning market in the United States is expected to reach $30B by the mid 2017, and nearly $50B worldwide. This growth has been attributed to both academic and non-academic use of these tools to deploy content. There now is a plethora of established providers in this space including Lynda.com, Udemy, Coursera, Skillsoft, as well as a host of much smaller providers who have recently launched offerings in this growing arena.
Internationally, as smartphone usage has rocketed, making e-learning available on those devices is now a targeted deployment. With nearly 100 types of mobile devices – from laptops to tablets – it’s becoming easier and easier to reach new markets. Adding to this growth in devices is cloud computing where content can easily be stored and accessed. Companies like Amazon Web Services, the giant in the cloud marketing space, has passed along 52 price reductions to their customers in the 10 years of their existence. Those price adjustments continue to drive a strong case for using e-learning instead of traditional classrooms when employees are disbursed around the world.
There are three levels of content that is supplied into this market space. Viewed as a triangle cut into 3 parts, the base is made up of packaged, off-the-shelf e-learning courses. The players that dominate that space include:
- Open Sesame; and
LinkedIn made its biggest acquisition to date in 2016, by paying $1.5B for Lynda.com – a 20-year old e-learning company that offers courses on everything from coding to business skills. According to Elearning! Magazine and other associations that track use of e-learning, the top three content categories cluster around:
- Managerial and Supervisory Courseware;
- Professional or Industry-Specific Courseware; and
- Mandatory or Compliance Courseware.
On top of these trends, employers are also reimbursing employees for taking courses from suppliers like Coursera and Udemy, amongst others. Yahoo and 1-800-Flowers have been doing that since 2013, as long as employees can produce a course completion certificate. In effect, that pulls even more e-learning into the market.
But moving up the triangle of content value, the middle tier of content is a modified, company version of pre-packaged courseware. Usually this takes compliance type courses or project management type courses, and adding company-specific content to the courses. This is generally considered even more valuable to a company.
And at the very top of the triangle – the most valuable content of all – is 100% company specific. As these authoring tools become more ubiquitous, companies are doing training on company product launches, on-boarding, and other company-unique courses via e-learning platforms.
In short, we think this trend will continue to fuel an already rapidly growing market segment. This trend will continue to allow training to be shared more easily without the burden of facilities and travel weighing it down. And as the size of this training market continues, the growth for e-learning instructors and instructional designers seems to grow along with it.