Content still rules digital learning – $1.5bn worth of it.

An unfolding consequence of COVID and our shift in working patterns is the amount of investment in various businesses aimed at supporting digital learning. Or rather, businesses aimed at supporting the delivery of what we tend to call learning – elearning content. There is plenty of growth out there if private equity fund investors are any indication.

Despite conference line-ups, thought leadership and industry commentary (this blog included, perhaps), the reality of the corporate learning world is one of SCORM-wrapped course creation served via LMS. The injection of $1.5 billion into Articulate is the clearest signal I have yet seen of this phenomenon. The arrangement values Articulate at $3.75 billion. I am no investment analyst, but that is a large number. A deal like this offers some nuggets of market data we rarely see in a learning industry so reliant on survey data. This is a very successful business which, until now, has not required any external funding. 106,000 customers across 161 countries and all of the Fortune 100 on the books.

Learning = training = course

This is the reality of the learning technology market. Despite what might be indicated as a COVID inspired pivot to digital, the market is actually locked in to a channel switch from the classroom to the screen. “Articulate is well positioned to be the one-stop shop for organizations transitioning from instructor-led training to the online training that is so critical in the new world of work”. It is refreshing to see this described as a training market. Learning = training = course has been the model for as long as I can remember and makes good business too.

This is what the lions share of customers are looking for, a new, or improved, channel for the delivery of existing services. There are many other demands out there and the market is changing in many respects, but not in this one. To my mind digital transformation, however it plays out, requires data, connection and a prioritisation of user experience. This market development rests on a very narrow view of each.

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