We recently came across a great infographic from the folks over at GetApp, a site that helps businesses find the right learning management systems for their needs, that answers one of the big questions we get all the time from members and clients: What is the best LMS to use? We were lucky to get a Q&A with Suzie Blaszkiewicz, their market researcher and content editor, and she spoke with us about some of the thought process behind compiling this infographic.
Your new report ranked the 25 Top LMS apps on the market today… What were the criteria you used to determine the list?
We use a five-factor ranking methodology to determine the list of the Top 25 learning management system applications: reviews, integrations, mobile app availability, media presence, and security. We use a combination of GetApp’s product listing data and third-party sources to collect data for the ranking. For example, reviews are based on the number and average rating of user reviews on GetApp, while integrations are calculated using the number of integrations listed within a product’s profile on GetApp. Mobile app scores are determined based on the availability of iOS and Android apps and their related ratings in the Apple App Store and Google Play, while media scores are pulled from the number of Facebook likes and Twitter followers that a vendor has. For security, we asked vendors to fill in a 15-question security survey based on the Cloud Security Alliance’s Self Assessment Form, which we then score based on their responses.
As a first assessment of cloud-based LMS software, I think it gives a good sense of the biggest players currently on the market and how they stack up to each other.
It’s interesting that security is one of the criteria that GetApp scores. Why do you think it’s important for businesses to understand how secure their LMS might be?
Security is always a point of contention when it comes to cloud-based applications, and LMS software is no exception. It’s not only important to ensure the safety of sensitive employee data that may be captured by an LMS solution, but also to protect a company’s learning materials and resources. Having a solution that offers different levels of encryption, different levels of access for different users, and options for data backup is essential.
On top of that, using an LMS that’s transparent about the security measures it takes to protect your data should be an important consideration for business owners looking for a new piece of cloud software.
Were you surprised by any of the results?
There were some surprises on the list. There were a few vendors on the ranking that many might expect to see higher on the list, but a handful of those have a relatively high cost and steep learning curve. These provide practical barriers to entry for small and medium-sized businesses looking for a solution that fits their needs. It’s important to remember that this ranking is for small and medium businesses who may not be able to affordably scale some of the more well-known LMS solutions to their business.
In terms of where the LMS marketplace is right now, are you seeing a growth in mobile apps? And if so, why do you think that is?
Mobile uptake has been slower for LMS solutions than for other SaaS products, but it’s slowly starting to pick up momentum. The trend among most LMS vendors has been to offer web-based solutions that are mobile responsive and offer full functionality on a mobile device. In general, however, the contrast between mobile app versus mobile web usage is stark– a recent study found 88 percent of time spent on mobile devices is spent using apps, as opposed to only 12 percent on mobile web.
In addition, mobile apps can take advantage of the devices themselves to provide novel functions not available in web-based LMS systems, like presence sensors that recognize whether someone is attending a class or not. Adopting a mobile-first strategy with native mobiles apps is quickly becoming a necessity. As employees become increasingly less location based, they’ll want access to their LMS solution from the comfort of their mobile device, rather than needing to be on a laptop or desktop.
As LMSs become more popular, are you also seeing a rise in how robust the features are? What might be a good example of this?
Generally speaking, LMSs continue to be standalone pieces of software, rather than being integrated as part of a full HR suite. With unique requirements, LMS software often includes a robust set of features that extend the usability and efficiency of the app. Two big trends are Extended Enterprise Training and xAPI. Extended enterprise refers to LMSs which are now set up with capabilities to train people outside of the company, including stakeholders, other vendors, and even consumers. xAPI, on the other hand (also known as Experience API or ‘Tin Can’), is an integration function that lets an LMS integrate with other software that can aid in the training process, like tracking and recording training videos being watched outside of the LMS itself.
As LMSs become more complex, it will be key for a business to be able to accurately and objectively look at the learning management system options on the market and compare them side-by-side so that they can identify which solution caters best to their requirements. Each business is different, so there’s no such thing as a ‘one size fits all’ LMS out there. That’s why it’s so important to know your options before making a purchase.
This infographic is just one way to help you come to that important decision. But what do you think about it? What learning management systems are you using? What features are shaping the decision in the LMS your organization uses? Share with us in the comments so we can see what conclusions you are coming to!