Learning Technology: the Brand Report, 2014

Brand Recognition

Brand recognition, or aided recognition, is about being able to identify a company in a lineup. Although not necessarily top of mind, brand recognition as a brand measure in this study shows that a provider is identifiable as a learning technology or solution provider.

When presented with a list of leading LMS brands — apologies to Moodle, a leader in recall measures that was not included — along with a scale of familiarity options ranging from “I am a current customer” to “I’ve never heard of them,” here’s how LMS brands scored among our learning panel.

Figure D. Graph of most-recognized brands with “high degree” of familiarity

This chart shows what percentage of our respondents have a high familiarity with a brand, as either a close watcher or as a current/former customer.

The Starr Conspiracy’s Take

Given Skillsoft’s tepid showing in our recall measures, they absolutely dominate here, with a majority having a high degree of familiarity with them. Oracle’s family of brands — PeopleSoft, Taleo, and — also did well, as well as Blackboard and SAP/SuccessFactors. Again, we expected Cornerstone OnDemand to be higher given their early specialization in learning.

Figure E. Providers recognized as “premium brands”

This chart shows what percentage of our respondents thought a brand was premium.

The Starr Conspiracy’s Take

Saba, Skillsoft, SAP/SuccessFactors, and SumTotal score well as premium brands, and the combination of Skillsoft and SumTotal put the new company in a solid position if they can successfully integrate the two brands. However, there’s a little more insight here. Although there wasn’t a significant job-level split, they did so on the backs of those respondents at the manager level and below versus those at the director level and above (46 percent versus 30 percent). On the other hand, SAP/SuccessFactors scored much higher with those at the director level and above (41 percent versus 25 percent for managers and below). This shows that SuccessFactors’ positioning to executives paid off, while Saba has some room to grow in this area.

Figure F. Making sense of the connection between recognition and recall

This chart shows where each company fell in both recall and any degree of recognition measurements. The x-axis plots the recall percentage of the top brands, while the y-axis plots the recognition percentage of the top brands.

The Starr Conspiracy’s Take

For all those looking to take dominant mindshare of the learning space, you can look to that far upper right-hand side of the chart. Saba, Blackboard, SAP/SuccessFactors, and, to a slightly lesser extent, SumTotal are all fighting to be the top player in learning. Skillsoft and Cornerstone OnDemand both have strong recognition — Skillsoft exceptionally so — but they still have a ways to go to meet others on this list. Oracle’s products get a boost from their brand name, but clearly the market still doesn’t perceive them as strong learning players.

Inroads for Big Erps, but Learning Focus Still Premium

Premium status isn’t just about price — it’s a measure of perceived quality and functionality.

Skillsoft is clearly the recognition leader in learning, but it didn’t register very highly on our recall measures. Big ERP players like SAP and Oracle have good recognition, but Oracle in particular lacked premium status — and the other big player, IBM/Kenexa, failed to connect with our panel.

Learning-focused providers like Saba, SumTotal, Cornerstone OnDemand, and Blackboard can bank on that premium status in the minds of the learning buyer. That’s not just a measure of price, but a measure of perceived quality and robust functionality. That functional association is going to be critical as big ERPs try to move in on traditional learning management solutions’ turf.