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Brighton, United Kingdom, 2006/01/21 - On the eve of the UK Learning Technologies conference Kineo has issued a new briefing on the UK e-learning market. According to Kineo there are two e-learning markets in the UK, and they’re heading in opposite directions.
Steve has considerable inside knowledge of the e-learning industry, having been a director of one of its biggest players. In the free 5 page briefing, he notes that while LMS players consolidate, the bespoke e-learning market continues to fragment.
Steve thinks LMS consolidation, such as Saba’s acquisition of Thinq and Centra, is on balance good news for customers. “It potentially makes LMS suppliers more financially viable and stable - key considerations when buying an LMS as you want your vendor to be around for a while.” However, keep an eye on the alternatives such as open source Moodle and Sakai which are moving into the mainstream. One of the largest LMS implementations in the UK is for the National Schools Strategy and they are using Moodle.
What about the bespoke e-learning market? It’s heading in the opposite direction. Kineo’s report lists over 30 active bespoke e-learning providers, several of whom weren’t in the market three years ago. Acquisitions and mergers are few and far between and they are being outpaced by the new entrants.
This is good news for buyers but poses some significant challenges for the e-learning companies themselves. Steve notes that “as e-learning trends move from the big, formal 20-hour e-learning course to short, sharp interventions and smaller projects, being small could well be an advantage – you can mobilise and innovate faster”.
And is the price right? It is if you’re buying. With offshore players like Brainvisa and Tata, whose daily rates are significantly lower than what you’d pay for a UK resource, the heat is on. The established providers can’t compete on price, Steve explains, so they’re playing a defensive game, emphasising the importance of cultural understanding, close working and reliability as reasons to stay loyal. But he predicts that will only work in the short term. “There are cultural issues and issues with offshoring, certainly, but as offshore companies become more sophisticated they will partner with UK companies and grow UK front-end teams, they could become a major part of the UK e-learning industry”. And if they can’t beat them the UK e-learning vendors are likely to join them with quite a few now developing their own offshore production teams.
Looks like it’s going to be an interesting year for UK e-learning….
Kineo is a leading consultancy practice providing advisory services, research and niche e-learning products to support learning and development teams in the public and private sectors. Founded in November 2005 by Matthew Fox, Mark Harrison, Steve Rayson and Stephen Walsh, Kineo is a limited liability partnership with offices in Brighton.
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