“It’s like the last two years never happened”.

Anon: LT 22 attendee

That is the most memorable quote from my conversations yesterday at the Learning Technologies 2022 Exhibition. (I was not at the conference but my, equally unscientific, polling suggests that it was a valuable two days). There are two ways to take that comment, and both were intended. Nothing much seemed to have changed in terms of the wares on offer; and it was great to get back to the event as it was remembered and enjoyed. The second sentiment was universal – everyone was really happy to see people, reconnect and properly catch up. Serendipity abounded in conversations across the floor, a well documented loss from our COVID experience.

The first sentiment bears a little investigation under the surface I think, and my warm take will focus there:

  • The market clearly remains focused on systems and content – this has been true for my ten years or so of attendance and remains so (does the market actually want anything new?)
  • Consolidation is visible in the bigger stands in the middle of the room – LTG is probably the most obvious example of this, aggregating brands across the main spending segments into a single presence (a clearly successful strategy)
  • That consolidation, including partnerships, has blurred the divide between platform providers and content providers – fuller service is a crucial competitive front it seems
  • If it’s a platform, it’s an LXP now, so the label has become redundant
  • Available funding for marketing is clear in bigger stands in the middle of the room – there has been plenty of investment over the two-year hiatus and LT remains the event to use to make a splash
  • Messaging is pretty generic and must be a real challenge for marketing directors
    • A sample: learning that works, agile lms that adapts at the pace of business, rethink people development, our xyz powers digital learning…, digital learning for your entire workforce, unlock your future through learning
    • My personal favourite, from Good Habitz: “online training”
  • What we might call heavy technology/engineering companies are quite rare in the show still – AI and data based services are starting to arrive, but are by no means the norm (despite many claims)
  • Action from the stands that caught my eye:
    • Data Camp created a data gathering queue of attendees signing up for a toy giveaway – good to see harvesting in action
    • Coaching services arrived this year at a scale I don’t recall seeing before – but what about the quality of interaction after the matching is managed?
    • Onboarding seemed to be a theme of many providers and a problem looking for a solution (still)
    • Akroo marketplace – a simple solution to sourcing freelance trainers and coaches and for them to find customers. Also, nice to see an early stage start up focusing on a known problem (that the founder had persistent experience of)
  • Conversation highlights:
    • Many people are looking for something new, or perhaps, something more than content and access/distribution
    • What hybrid means and the implications of new working patterns and practices is impossible to quantify and describe – beware of anyone claiming to know what will happen
    • Lots of curiosity to what is available and specific visits to stands on to-do-lists
    • Stand holders having many meaningful conversations around considered needs – less conversations overall but better ones than the before times

There is a thought ringing in my mind about AI, data and content/experience design which I have yet to wrangle into shape. Will save that for a cooler take.

Photo by Mikhail Nilov on Pexels.com

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