The Best LMS Solutions – An Equine Perspective

With the new racing season starting in November, we thought it appropriate to look at the LMS market from an equine perspective. Our top tipster, David Patterson, will give us his view on the runners and riders, but first here’s a quick explanation of the learning management system categories:

Leading LMS Providers

Race Horses – US Based
Well-established thoroughbreds in the LMS market, leading the enterprise learning race, but who are advised to keep looking over their shoulders to stay in the game.

Dark Horses – from the UK
These UK LMS vendors are capable of becoming internationally recognised powerful contenders in the LMS race. They have strong points of difference but are yet not well known outside the UK. However, we perceive that this is about to change very rapidly.

All of these Dark Horses offer fully capable LMS that can meet organisational requirements, and in our view these are the ones to closely watch.

Trojan Horses
These springers are a surprise package, perhaps previously unfancied, but now packed full of innovation and new ideas, such as integration-led solutions. The Trojan Horses are gaining significant market exposure by being highly visible and full of potential! We expect the odds to shorten on these.

White Horses
Coming to the rescue (with some stand out solutions) of the Training Industry or to energise corporate training teams with solutions focused on learner engagement.

Our White Horse LMS vendors have seen this gap on the inside and are making very effective offers to allow training companies to provide effective and integrated e-learning solutions.

These LMS vendors are bringing new innovative, imaginative ideas and features, galloping in to the LMS race – sparkling and almost magic. They often specialise or differentiate in one particular area and bring significant value to the event.

Cart horses and Dead horses
The LMS vendors who have got it wrong. There are a few we all remember who jumped the starting line and went too early into too narrow a technology. There were others who failed to keep up with technology and are now no longer at the races.


They’re at the post – over to David in the betting ring for his review of the market.


Our LMS Race Horses

Saba, Skillsoft / Sum Total, IBM, Oracle, SAP 

Top LMS Companies in the US

Oracle (with platforms various) and SAP (with Success Factors) are hugely embedded within the organisation across various systems. IBM is a strong player with its various acquisitions and abilities in knowledge management.

Saba is successful and building out new solutions and Sum-Total / Skillsoft are purer play e-learning companies with increasing vulnerabilities, though we are yet to see the synergies of both becoming one integrated entity… It could be good.

These large enterprise solutions seek to differentiate by integration with ERP (Oracle and SAP), Talent Management (Oracle) and integration with HRIS as well.

Now IBM are differentiating with a focus on Knowledge management and a partnership with Apple, which may evolve in the learning market.

Heavily-backed, these favourites are a safe bet LMS for large corporations.

Will Microsoft enter the corporate market with an LMS, will Google enter the market, and where will LinkedIn take

Historically the UK has not had an LMS vendor that could be a front runner at the large corporate races, but we would now highlight some, our Dark Horses:

Dark Horse LMS Software & Vendors

Virtual College, Kallidus, Growth Engineering, Enterprise Study 

Dark Horse LMS Solutions

Virtual College offer a fully supported (at first line learner) service; an evolved LMS with a strong focus on competences, audit and reporting. With a track record of over 1.6 million learners, Virtual College has real thoroughbred potential.

Virtual College also has high quality in-house bespoke development capability and a large library of generic e-learning content. They will be a fast moving dark horse as they internationalise.

Kallidus is a powerful LMS with a fully comprehensive feature set, now backed up by a very effective development pathway and an in-house content development team. In addition to strong visionary leadership and excellent marketing skills, Kallidus are now a well-resourced organisation from which we anticipate a strong performance in the market.

They have a focus on Talent Management and have been quick to integrate an App for the LMS.

Growth Engineering is making serious inroads into the market with its slightly quirky marketing and its focus on gamification and the user interface experience. This is now backed up by Genie, a gamification learning authoring tool which is very good indeed.

This organisation sells on differentiation and is making serious in-roads into the market in the UK and overseas. The LMS is very highly regarded by industry commentators such as Craig Weiss and the in house learning expertise is really evident in what they do and the results deployments of this LMS achieve.

Enterprise Study is an LMS vendor with ambition, which has created an interesting and innovative place in the market reflecting its heritage as providing Training Management Platforms. It continues to leverage this by integrating training providers into its workflow to offer full online and offline training management solutions tightly integrated to budgets and departments in complex organisations with multiple stakeholders such as NHS trusts.

Enterprise study is building out the Extended Enterprise offer and provides a comprehensive workflow enabled solution specifically for organisations with complex and devolved multiple budget holders.

Trojan Horse eLearning Companies

Docebo, Moodle / Totara Partners, Adobe, Netex, Cornerstone, Instructure 

Trojan horse elearning companies

The aspiring, ambitious LMS vendors who are making a determined and very public effort to enter the larger size corporate market are Docebo and Cornerstone. While they do not offer the full enterprise suite of Oracle or SAP, they are able to integrate their solutions very effectively into the corporate infrastructure. This is a fast growing requirement.

Indeed, in our view the learning interface from an LMS such as Docebo when well integrated is a superior learning experience to many of the Race Horse solutions. Docebo is a fully loaded LMS with a commitment to integration and innovation. Perhaps its most interesting innovation is its flexible pricing model, but this should not overshadow the continuing commitment to technical and learning improvement.

Moodle and Totara LMS partners are another iteration of Trojan Horse providers, bringing the power of Open Source Moodle (and Totara) to the corporate market. They are changing the way an LMS is procured by using a pricing model which takes organisations away from a price per learner payment plan.

There are various Moodle / Totara partners operating in the corporate market with differing degrees of success and ambitions, and pushing open source pricing to differentiate. Providers include Webanywhere who are UK Moodle and Totara Partners (now also doing very well as Moodle Partners in the USA), Learning Pool, C&G Kineo, Mind Click and US-based Paradiso among others.

Another company moving strongly from education to the corporate world is Instructure (providers of Canvas for HE/FE), who have entered the running with Bridge and have raised considerable amounts of money with a view to being a frontrunner. Bridge is maturing and will soon make an impact in the market. We expect them to be at the races quite rapidly.

Adobe (a leading player in authoring content with the Captivate elearning tool) which has launched an LMS into the corporate market is also making a very public statement of intent to enter the market. We see this as an aspiring Trojan Horse with some evolving features.

The Netex LMS is an interesting platform that features in-built content creation and curation tools and focuses on allowing training teams to assemble and build courses from re-usable digital assets – often Open Content. The in-built authoring tool allows rapid production of courses from existing assets or the creation of new digital assets.

Netex now also provides some market leading social learning features. This platform is in our view likely to become a very serious contender in the market as it is a well thought through solution that will be a pleasant surprise to many.
These Trojan Horse vendors are following different development pathways with integration, extended enterprise, gamification, user interface and pricing models. All are attempting to deliver differentiation and enter the market in a disruptive manner. They are packed full of surprises.

White Horse Learning Management Systems

aNewSpring, LearnUpon, SCORM LMS, Create eLearning, Nimble 

White horse learning platforms

The UK and increasingly the EU training market has finally woken up to the need to show that they too can do e-learning!

In the UK (unlike the USA) the training industry had historically moved to block e-learning wherever possible, for understandable reasons.

This objection is of course no longer permissible in the eyes of many learners or organisations, In short, is it any longer possible to hold the tide back?

Consequently, many training companies have to innovate and show their wares. Our White Horse LMS vendors have seen this market and are making very effective offers to allow training companies to deliver e-learning in effective and integrated ways.

In addition, we see our White Horse LMS riding to the rescue of training departments charged with rolling out learning programmes quickly and effectively to meet operational needs by quick and effective learner engagement.

Examples would include aNewSpring with its feature rich LMS incorporating an authoring environment, LCMS features and some neat Adaptive Learning. This is one of the most comprehensive learning platforms targeting the training market with many features taking it beyond the LMS. It very effectively delivers support for trainers in creating and delivering effective training while focusing on providing very high levels of learner engagement.

LearnUpon which is rapidly showing what a solid and well designed platform it is as more and more training companies harness its e-commerce features, multiple languages, App, cloning and white label giving training companies a powerful solution to enter the market.

We have curated and provided a number of great online training courses using this learning management system and course store. This White Horse is moving beyond the training industry where it has been hugely successful to date, such has been its success in the US we should award it stallion status.

SCORM LMS is designed for the smaller organisation, with a powerful and impressive set of features. The User Interface is one of the most impressive on the market and reporting is powerful while remarkably easy to use. This is niche and very neat indeed for training teams and tactical deployments.

Create elearning, a new entrant, is doing very well indeed with an elegant and attractive LMS. Create elearning is providing a platform allowing training companies to show their wares. This LMS has a really modern interface and is feature rich indeed, while offering exceptional value for money.

Nimble Author from e-learning 247 is another organisation we see as a White Horse riding to the rescue of many organisations with training needs and is a really neat solution. Nimble Author offers a simple to use content authoring environments that produces some really stylish learning coupled with a nice LMS. It is proving hugely popular amongst corporate training teams charged with rolling out learning quickly and effectively.


Looop, WillowDNA, Kokm, ThinkZoom, Tugaru 

Unicorn learning management systems

Looop are a very new next-gen LMS vendor on the scene who are moving away from the ‘classic’ style of SCORM-led e-learning. Their LMS is designed as a collaborative platform which leverages the experience of professionals within an organisation to create courses which are relevant to learners within that organisation.

The pedagogical approach is based upon the ‘Google-style’ of learning, whereby learners find the information they need at the point and time of need when they have a requirement.

Key features of the Looop mobile learning system include an extremely elegant and easy-to-use interface, and app creation. Looop also works by seamlessly creating apps which learners can then use to experience the same content on their mobile devices as on their computer. This is a platform that allows for the taking of learning beyond its current bounds.

WillowDNA make a strong claim to offer a unique LMS with its focus on learning pathways and knowledge management. The Pathway Cloud LMS platform is an example of a learner centric solution designed to support organisational effectiveness. This is truly one of the true innovators backed up with exceptional understanding of how learning works by the expertise in the team.

Kokm are another new next gen LMS vendor who are using a unique and innovative feature: social collaboration. Their LMS enables learners to contribute to the resources which constitute courses with their own ideas, articles, videos, picture etc. This really differentiates Kokm in the LMS market as an LMS thrives, but also relies, on social collaboration.

ThinkZoom is a cut down LMS and curation platform from ej4. Designed to host SCORM and other e-learning materials ThinkZoom allows for the contextualisation of the learning by the addition of user created commentary such as video capture and video creation.
With a simple and effective interface this is making learning part of a dynamic communication led approach to organisational improvement in real time.

Tugaru is a relatively unknown LMS from TellonLine, but one that we have followed closely for some time. Tugaru is developed to utilise the power of the Kentico CMS (which powers many large organisations web presence) and consequently is configures to deliver a surprisingly high level of marketing automation to the learner experience.

Tugaru is all about engagement and in applying the lessons of marketing to learning the learning results are hugely impressive indeed.

Cart horses and dead horses

KTango, Knoodle 

The cart horses are LMS to avoid

We have named 2 pretty dead horses but there are quite a few cart horses out there, so be careful!

It is very easy for LMS vendors to get it wrong, go too early into a technology as also-rans KTango or Knoodle did with mobile and video respectively, and consequently not succeed.

Some vendors have fallen and allowed their platform to ossify, failing to follow the learner trends in the market. Other vendors have focused too much on self-limiting industry sectors.

Who’s Your Favourite?

The Best LMS

With over 600 LMS vendors and more, it is important that organisations do not procure a Cart Horse or soon-to-be dead horse.

Look at our Dark Horses or Trojan Horses if you are in the mainstream corporate L&D market and at our White Horses if you are a training company or a smaller company embarking upon an e-learning project. If you have more specific needs, a Unicorn is our tip.


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