The enterprise learning market witnessed another big consolidation event today as SumTotal Systems announced it acquired GeoLearning thus further positioning SumTotal as the largest platform provider for LMS and talent management solutions in the industry. According to leading analyst Josh Bersin, the combined entity will grow SumTotal's "total market share to 12.5% ... (and) makes SumTotal approximately 50% larger than the #2 LMS player (Saba), clearly establishing their leadership in the market." Interesting news indeed.
So, what does this move mean to the enterprise mobile learning market?
From my perspective, both companies have worked on "baking and serving up" a mobile learning strategy to one extent or another but both have placed a higher priority on building out their talent management suites rather than their mobility solutions -- for good reason too as that's where the money has been in recent years as mobile has been taking shape. SumTotal's ToolBook authoring tool, now in version 10.x, is a well crafted desktop-based application that we've used many times in the past to help design and produce mobile learning content that can be packaged for delivery with many different enterprise mobile learning platforms including our own, Intuition's and others. There are also nice hooks in place to allow mobile-ready courses to be accessed by mlearners via the SumTotal LMS using a mobile web browser but SumTotal has yet to take the leap from basic "mobile web" delivery into the more sophisticated and polished "mobile app" methods.
GeoLearning, on the other hand, has made solid strides in recent months with their GeoMaestro Mobility Solution to design and develop their own mobile apps (for iPhone, iPad, Android and WebOS/Palm-based devices) and provide a continuum of mobile authoring, delivery and reporting via their GeoMaestro suite to the benefit of their customers now considering mobile learning for the first time (and who isn't?). I certainly applaud their efforts to get into the pool but I can state with conviction that any "version 1.0" effort only represents the first steps on a long journey as we move into the highly complex arena of mobility with its vastly different technologies and delivery models when compared with delivering online content in the enterprise LMS space. In short, "getting a course on a phone" is relatively easy while the 250+ other things the enterprise is now concerned with represent the challenges that need to be addressed to ensure the learning experience is fully functional, appropriate, customizable, secure and fully scalable. But actually getting a version 1.0 out the door IS an important start! Geo's new "client-side" tools/apps may represent a key ingredient for SumTotal's push into the enterprise mobile learning market but, unfortunately, the official press release doesn't mention mobile in any shape or fashion.
SumTotal would be well served to take a quick and hard look at the GeoLearning tools and figure out how they can start to leverage them under the bigger umbrella this consolidation represents as it will serve their combined customer base well. And the increased visibility and adoption of mobile learning across the broader market is good news for everyone in the enterprise mLearning space as more and more companies seek solutions that can meet their current and future requirements.