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FrontRunners for Learning Management, January 2017

Powered by Gartner Methodology

This FrontRunners analysis is a data-driven assessment identifying products in the Learning Management software market that offer the best capability and value for small businesses. For a given market, products are evaluated and given a score for the capability (x-axis) and value (y-axis) they bring to users. FrontRunners then plots the top 25-30 products in a quadrant format.

In the Learning Management FrontRunners infographic above, the Capability axis starts at 3.7 and ends at 4.5, while the Value axis starts at 3.6 and ends at 4.6. Scales may differ between quadrants in order to capture the relative positioning of the specific products in each category.

To be considered for the Learning Management FrontRunners, a product needed a minimum capability user rating score of 3.0 and a minimum value user rating score of 3.0. So, all products that qualify as FrontRunners are top performing products in their market. The quadrant positions a product relative to its peers in the market. Each product falls within a designated quadrant based on their axis scores. Dependent on the specific needs of the software buyer, a product placed in any quadrant category could be a good fit. Each quadrant category has a distinct description for placement.

  • Upper Right = Leaders: Leaders are all-around strong products. They offer the highest value and capability in that market.

  • Upper Left = Masters: Masters may have fewer capabilities, but end users value those capabilities highly. Depending on the functionality needed, a product positioned in the Masters quadrant might be a better option to consider than products positioned in other quadrants.

  • Lower Right = Pacesetters: Pacesetters may offer a strong set of capabilities, but are not rated as high on value. For example, a Pacesetter might have a breadth of functionality at a higher price point.

  • Lower Left = Contenders: Contenders are strong-performing products that have not yet achieved the Value and Capability of the products in the other quadrants. For example, products in this quadrant may be more suited for companies that need more specialized functionality that comes at a price.

FrontRunners Methodology

The Basics

The FrontRunners methodology assesses and calculates a score for products on two primary dimensions: Capability on the x-axis and Value on the y-axis.

The Capability score is an overall weighted average of scores including:

  1. End-user ratings of one to five stars on the product’s functionality.
  2. End-user ratings of one to five stars on the product’s ease of use.
  3. End-user ratings of one to five stars on the product’s customer support.
  4. A score, relative to other products in the market, for the product's inclusion of key functionality for the software category.
  5. A score, relative to other products in the market, representing the number of other products that integrate with it.

The Value score is an overall weighted average of scores including:

  1. End-user ratings of one to five stars on overall satisfaction with the product.
  2. End-user ratings of one to five stars on how valuable users consider the product to be relative to its price.
  3. End-user ratings of one to five stars on how likely they are to recommend the product to others.
  4. A score, relative to other products in the market, for the size of the product's customer base.
  5. A score, relative to other products in the market, for the number of professionals in the market who have experience with the product (e.g., users, developers, administrators).
  6. A score, relative to other products in the market, representing the total number of user reviews across the three Gartner web properties.
  7. A score, relative to other products in the market, representing the average number of times per month internet users search for the product on Google.

Markets are defined by a core set of functionality, and products considered for, and included in, FrontRunners must offer that core set of functionality. Additional related functionality can contribute to the capability score for a product. To qualify for consideration in FrontRunners for a software category, a product must have at least 10 unique user-submitted product reviews across the three Gartner Digital Markets web properties: softwareadvice.com, capterra.com and getapp.com.

More Methodology Details

The FrontRunners methodology assesses products on two primary dimensions: Capability on the x-axis and Value on the y-axis. Products receive a score between one and five for each axis. Products that meet a minimum score for each axis are included as FrontRunners. The minimum score cutoff to be included in the FrontRunners graphic varies by category, depending on the range of scores in each category. For products included, the Capability and Value scores determine their positions on the FrontRunners graphic.

The Capability score is based on three criteria: user ratings on capability, a functionality breadth analysis, and a business confidence assessment.

    1. The capability user ratings criterion captures user satisfaction with the product's capabilities. The capability ratings score is a weighted average of the one to five star rating scores from three user ratings:
      1. Functionality.
      2. Ease of use.
      3. Customer support.
    2. The functionality breadth analysis is based on:
      1. The product's coverage of core software category functions.
      2. The number of other products integrated with it.

For each of these two data points, the methodology calculates the percentile ranking for each product relative to all other products in the software category that have qualified for FrontRunners consideration. That percentile ranking is then translated into a one to five score.

    1. The business confidence assessment is an indicator of whether the software company is likely to continue investing in the product for the next 12-18 months. The analysis is based on four data points:
      1. The product's current customer base.
      2. The annual growth rate of the product's customer base.
      3. The vendor's current employee base.
      4. The annual growth rate of the vendor's employee base.

If the company's size and product's customer base are both significant and growing, then the likelihood that the business will invest in the product is higher than in the alternative scenarios. For each of these four data points, the methodology calculates the percentile ranking for each product relative to all other products in the software category that have qualified for FrontRunners consideration. That percentile ranking is then translated to a one to five score.

The overall one to five Capability score is a weighted average of the scores for user ratings, functionality breadth and business confidence.

The Value score is based on two criteria: user ratings on value and product adoption.

    1. The value user ratings criterion captures users' satisfaction with the business value provided by the product. The value ratings score is a weighted average of the one to five star rating scores from three user ratings:
      1. Overall ratings of the product.
      2. How likely users are to recommend the product to others.
      3. How valuable users consider the product to be relative to its price.
    2. The product adoption data analysis assesses if the product is positioned in the market as more of an industry standard with higher adoption (thus earning a higher score), or as an emerging competitor with more limited adoption (thus earning a lower score). The product adoption methodology analysis for each product is based on four data points:
      1. The size of the product's customer base.
      2. The number of professionals in the market who have experience with the product (e.g., users, developers, administrators).
      3. The total number of user reviews across the three Gartner web properties.
      4. The average number of times per month internet users search for the product on Google.

For each of these four data points, the methodology calculates the percentile ranking for each product relative to all other products in the software category that have qualified for FrontRunners consideration. That percentile ranking is then translated into a one to five score.

The overall one to five Value score is a weighted average of the scores for value user ratings and product adoption.

Data

Data sources include user reviews and ratings, public data sources and data from technology vendors. The user-generated product reviews data incorporated into FrontRunners is collected from submissions to all three Gartner Digital Markets sites (softwareadvice.com, capterra.com and getapp.com). As a quality check, we ensure the reviewer is valid, that the review meets quality standards and that it is not a duplicate.

The business confidence and product adoption data comes from public sources, collected by either a third-party data provider or by Gartner associates. As a quality check, we compare this data against data submitted by the providers. We use this data to calculate a product's percentile ranking, which allows us to determine how products compare relative to one another rather than determine an absolute number.

The functionality breadth data is collected from the technology providers. We check the data provided and challenge data that seems inflated or unlikely. We use this data to calculate a product's percentile ranking, which allows us to determine how products compare relative to one another rather than determine an absolute number.

See FrontRunners frequently asked questions (FAQ) for more information on the methodology.

External Usage Guidelines

Providers must abide by the FrontRunners External Usage Guidelines when referencing FrontRunners content. Except in digital media with character limitations, the following disclaimer MUST appear with any/all FrontRunners reference(s) and graphic use:

FrontRunners scores and graphics are derived from individual end-user reviews based on their own experiences, vendor-supplied information and publicly available product information; they do not represent the views of Gartner or its affiliates.

by Brian Westfall,
Market Research Associate
Last Updated: February 23, 2017


A learning management system (LMS) automates the administration, testing, tracking and reporting of learner progress through online courses. This guide will help you navigate the LMS software market so you're armed with everything you need to know in order to make an informed buying decision for your organization. Watch the video below for a 1-minute breakdown of LMS functionalities featuring product demos and continue reading for more in-depth descriptions.

 

Here’s what we’ll cover:

What Is a Learning Management System?
Common Features of Learning Management Systems
What Type of Buyer Are You?
Learning Management System Pricing
Market Trends to Understand
Recent Events You Should Know About

What Is a Learning Management System?

LMS software helps educational institutions and businesses better manage their online learning programs—which can be an incredibly effective way to improve employee engagement and retention while increasing employee skill levels. Rather than having to manually manage and track all of the workflows that are involved with ensuring employees have access to and complete learning programs, LMS systems help automate the entire process, from start to finish. Functionality includes:

  • Creating curricula and learning programs to educate students and/or employees in specific areas of knowledge or to teach them certain skills.
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  • Tracking the completion of such programs to ensure students and/or employees are staying on schedule.
  •  
  • Allowing students and/or employees to demonstrate competencies or gain certification in areas relevant to their role.
  •  
  • Providing analytics and reporting functionality to give organizations more insight into the success of their training or learning program(s).

Common Features of Learning Management Systems

lms common features

 

Certification and compliance management Includes setting up, tracking and managing certification programs for industries that require employee certification to perform a specific job duty. This also manages compliance training, which could be a need for any industry.
Learning management Helps users organize and simplify training or learning administration, which includes processes such as distributing content, managing user information, scheduling and overseeing course enrollment.
Virtual classroom Many LMS platforms include video conferencing functionality, enabling instructors to lead live, remote classes and trainings through the platform.
Course library Some vendors partner with training content creators to provide a pre-made library of training courses for generic training needs, such as those on sexual harassment policies or management techniques.
Extended enterprise Allows organizations to train or teach external users, such as channel partners or customers. E-commerce functionality may be included here, as well, to allow training courses to be sold externally.
Proficiency testing and reporting Allows users to administer tests to gauge employee/student knowledge or skill. Analytics and reporting functionality helps determine proficiency and identify learning gaps.
Content authoring Gives users the ability to author their own content and design and deliver courses within a LMS. E-learning authoring tools are often part of an LMS; learning content management systems (LCMSs) that facilitate the creation and storage of course content can be integreated into an LMS package as well.

What Type of Buyer Are You?

Before purchasing a system, you should assess what kind of buyer you are. The majority of buyers fall into one of these categories:

Education-industry professionals. Perhaps the most obvious buyers of learning management software are those from schools and universities: organizations where the entire purpose is facilitating the spread of knowledge. Many courses at university levels—and, increasingly, even at the K-12 levels—offer students access to syllabi, assignments and testing information via Web-based LMSs created specifically for the education industry. Education LMS products can be purchased on their own or as a core component of many K-12 software solutions, along with other applications such as school accounting and student information systems (SISs).

Corporate training professionals. LMSs also have a strong presence in the corporate training sphere. This is especially true in highly regulated industries where employees need to maintain specific certifications or licenses to comply with industry or government standards, such as aviation or food preparation. Just as there are LMSs designed specifically for use in schools and universities, there is also LMS software specific to the needs of corporate trainers, which might include functionality for performance reviews or e-commerce. Corporate LMS products can also be purchased on their own, or as part of a more comprehensive human resources (HR) suite.

Learning Management System Pricing

LMS software is usually priced based on two factors: the number of users and the functionality included. The more people you have using the system and the greater the depth and breadth of functionality, the higher the price.

As an example, many vendors offer tiered pricing plans. With the first, most basic tier, buyers might pay a monthly fee so a small pool of users would have access to basic functionality and services, such as content creation, course enrollment and limited email support from the vendor.

As the price scales up, buyers can add more users to the system, while receiving more advanced functionality or services on top of what is provided at the lower tiers. These additional capabilities might include reporting and analytics or live phone support from the vendor.

In some cases, users can buy a license to own the software in perpetuity. More commonly, though, users can expect to pay a monthly or annual subscription fee for the software.

Subscription pricing is more common with cloud-based systems (where the LMS is accessed via Web browser), whereas perpetual licenses are more common with on-premise solutions (those installed by users on local servers). Most LMS products today fall into the cloud-based, subscription-priced category.

Market Trends to Understand

Workday announces Workday Learning. In September 2015, HR software vendor Workday announced they were entering the LMS market with Workday Learning, a new application as part of their human capital management and financial management suite offerings. Workday Learning will be made available to customers later this year.

The rise of the MOOC. MOOCs, or massive open online courses, represented a big area for employee training growth in 2015. These ongoing online courses that can be started and completed by employees at their own pace are part of a bigger trend to allow employees more flexibility in their training outside of a classroom.

Cornerstone OnDemand partners with TED. In June 2015, LMS vendor Cornerstone OnDemand announced that they were partnering with popular nonprofit TED to deliver the organization’s popular TED Talks to Cornerstone clients. Users will have access to curated TED Talk Playlists within Cornerstone Learning designed to enhance employee training efforts.

Recent Events You Should Know About

RenWeb launches RenWeb Learning Management. RenWeb, a school administration software provider for private K-12 schools, launched RenWeb Learning Management in July 2016. The new LMS supports classroom collaboration, which blends learning instruction and school information system (SIS) integration.

Epignosis LLC releases eFrontPro version 4.5. Epignosis LLC, makers of the eFront Pro LMS platform, released version 4.5 of the software in August 2016. Major features introduced in the update include learner skills gap testing and native integration with e-commerce service FoxyCart to sell e-learning courses externally.

Docebo and OpenSesame announce partnership. LMS vendor Docebo and e-learning course provider OpenSesame announced a new partnership in November 2016. Through the partnership, Docebo customers can now purchase OpenSesame courses directly from within the Docebo platform. OpenSesame currently offers over 20,000 courses in areas such as business skills, certifications and technology training.

Free Download:
Learning Management Systems Pricing Guide

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