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Tech Headlines for September 2014

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Skillsoft to Acquire SumTotal Systems in the U.S.

E-learning company Skillsoft recently announced a deal to buy SumTotal Systems from U.S.-based private equity firm Vista Equity Partners for an undisclosed amount.

SumTotal provides flexible, human resources solutions to 3,500 customers and 49 million users worldwide. Skillsoft officials said the acquisition will expand their solution portfolio and global reach.

Skillsoft provides electronic learning solutions to over 6,000 customers globally, including companies and governments. It uses cloud computing, which allows clients to reduce costs by ditching bulky local servers for network-based software and storage in remote data centers.

“We’re very excited about the opportunity to bring together the experience and strengths of two proven leaders in the cloud-based HR solutions market," said Skillsoft CEO Chuck Moran. “The integration of these complementary products—Skillsoft’s technology-delivered learning assets and SumTotal’s solutions for learning, talent and workforce management—will allow our customers to break new ground in implementing more comprehensive solutions for managing and expanding their workforce talent.”

“We are pleased to support the management team with such a significant and transformational transaction so soon in our tenure together,” said Frank van den Bosch, Partner at Charterhouse Capital Partners LLP, which acquired Skillsoft in April 2014. “Skillsoft’s acquisition of SumTotal brings together two of the most widely respected and experienced industry players and gives us the ability to present an exciting and compelling opportunity for the combined global customer base.”

“We look forward to joining the Skillsoft family,” said SumTotal CEO Hardeep Gulati. “This acquisition is a pivotal milestone in the 29-year history of SumTotal and a tremendous endorsement of our employees, as well as the differentiated solutions and services that SumTotal provides. I am very excited about the opportunity to provide more value to our customers, who now will benefit from a comprehensive content rich HR solution.”

“It has been our pleasure to work with SumTotal over the past five years to expand their portfolio of solutions and better serve their customers and the HR industry as a whole,” said Brian Sheth, President of Vista Equity Partners. “We are confident that SumTotal and Skillsoft together are well-positioned to deliver tremendous value to customers and we wish the company the very best during its next phase of growth.” As part of the transaction, Vista Equity Partners will maintain a small ownership stake in the combined company.

The closing of this transaction is subject to various conditions, including the expiration of the applicable waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act.

TrainingIndustry.com Announces Top 20 Learning Portal Companies List

TrainingIndustry.com has announced its Top 20 Learning Portal Companies List, as part of its mission to continually monitor the training marketplace for the best providers of training services and technologies.

Selection to this year's Top 20 Learning Portal Companies List was based on the following criteria:

  • breadth of functionality and capabilities
  • commitment to the corporate training market
  • industry visibility, innovation, and impact
  • number and strength of clients
  • geographic reach.

The Top 20 companies include (in alphabetical order, not in ranking order):

  1. 360training.com
  2. Absorb LMS
  3. Allen Communication Learning Services
  4. BizLibrary
  5. CGS
  6. CrossKnowledge
  7. DuPont Sustainable Solutions
  8. GP Strategies
  9. IMC-Information Multimedia Communication AG
  10. Intrepid Learning
  11. MOS-MindOnSite
  12. Mzinga
  13. NetDimensions
  14. Raytheon Professional Services
  15. Robert Bosch Engineering and Business Solutions Limited
  16. Skillsoft
  17. Technomedia
  18. Totara
  19. Xerox
  20. Xyleme, Inc.

“Our 2014 Top 20 Learning Portal Companies List showcases the continued innovation in the corporate learning marketplace,” said Ken Taylor, Training Industry Inc.’s Chief Operating Officer. “These companies demonstrate the breadth of services, tools and reporting, learning leaders need to support any learning program. In particular, the ease of customization to the client’s specific needs was a standout this year.”
“The Top 20 companies provide technology and services that have a lasting impact on corporate learning,” said Doug Harward, Training Industry Inc.’s Chief Executive Officer. “Their ability to personalize the learning environment to both the needs of the learner and the goals of the business give us confidence in the business impact of the programs they support.”

To learn more, view the 2014 Top 20 Learning Portal Companies.

Galaxy Note 4 Offers VR Helmet

Samsung’s Galaxy Note 4, its latest flagship phablet (big-screen phone), will offer the coolest accessory to date: the Gear VR, which is an Oculus Rift-style headset.


Here’s how it works: Simply, insert the Note 4 into the facemask and the phone automatically enters VR mode. When docked, the Gear VR uses the Note 4 display and its processing power for full-immersion games and movies.  Built-in lenses with a 96-degree field of view sit between your eyes and the screen, and there’s a touchpad on the headset’s right temple for navigating on-face menus. The sides of the mask also host volume controls and a menu-back button, and there’s a focus-adjust wheel on top. Velcro straps will hold the mask to your face.

For content, Samsung has inked a partnership with Oculus that will make games and movies downloadable for the Gear VR setup through the Oculus Store. Not all Oculus content will be compatible with the Note 4/Gear VR tandem; games and videos will need to be optimized for mobile in order to work.

All reviews seem to agree that it's a completely immersive experience that detaches you from your real environment.

In other words, phablets just got real…

Bersin by Deloitte Anticipates Global Spending on LMSs to Grow More Than $2.5 Billion in 2014

Bersin by Deloitte has announced new research that anticipates spending on learning management systems (LMS) will grow 21 percent to more than $2.5 billion in 2014, an increase of 52 percent over spending levels of just two years ago.  Detailed findings are included in Bersin by Deloitte’s new research report, The Definitive Buyer’s Guide to the Global Market for Learning Management Solutions.  

The research shows that the global LMS market is growing rapidly in all geographies and segments, led by increased sales in North America and driven by an expanded role for the LMS in most organizations.  

“The big story here is rebounding growth of LMS sales in larger organizations in North America, which accounts for 63 percent of the top 30 providers’ revenue overall,” said David Mallon, head of research, Bersin by Deloitte, Deloitte Consulting LLP. “In the U.S., 15 percent of training spending in 2013 went to learning technologies—the largest percentage it has been since we began tracking this metric.1 A key reason for this is that the LMS is evolving to become a system of record to support the integration of talent management processes, as well as social and informal learning, while also providing a hub for knowledge management, communication and collaboration.” 

Study insights include:

This is a global market that is highly fragmented. With more than 650 LMS providers worldwide, LMS buyers now can look beyond the top providers and find many other easy-to-implement SaaS-based systems with flexible pricing models and fast implementations. The research anticipates 15 percent growth in the Asia-Pacific region, where Australia, for example, has seen several new providers enter the market in response to increased demand; 25 percent growth in the rapidly-growing Latin-America/Caribbean markets; and 10 percent growth in Europe/the Middle East, Africa, reflecting the region’s slower economic growth.   

The user experience comes to the forefront. Learner-driven functionalities such as the profile and career management, and innovations in learner-focused content such as massive open online courses and video are coming to the front, while traditional functionalities including e-learning and classroom management are becoming less prominent. This represents a significant shift toward building learning opportunities around the learner, instead of around a course or event.  

An increased focus on career management and development planning. As the LMS has become more and more integrated with broader talent management processes, functionality related to development planning and career paths has risen in profile and importance. These features, with the learner profile, are overtaking the course catalog as the face of these systems. 

Mobile and social capabilities to play a larger role in selection criteria. Only 19 percent of LMS shoppers say that mobile is a primary consideration and only 17 percent say as much for social features. However, demand for mobile learning support is increasing, and organizations that understand the most effective social applications for their learning strategy will be equipped to select next-generation providers as they integrate these capabilities. 

To learn more, download the complimentary WhatWorks market brief

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About the Author

Ryann K. Ellis is an editor for the Association of Talent Development (ATD). She has been covering workplace learning and performance for ATD (formerly the American Society for Training & Development) since 1995. She currently manages ATD's Community of Practice blogs, as well as ATD's government-focused magazine, The Public Manager. Contact her at rellis@td.org. 

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