EPISODE 53: AUSTRALIAN LMS TRENDS
Blake Proberts, Founder and Managing Director, Pursuit Technology
If you attended our annual learning systems awards webinar, or you’ve read our related Top 40 LMS blog post, you may already be intrigued about Australia’s fastest-growing learning solution—Acorn LMS by Pursuit Technology.
While researching this platform for our awards, my interest was certainly piqued. So I invited Pursuit’s Founder and Managing Director, Blake Proberts, to discuss the current and future state of online learning and the Australian LMS market in more detail.
Join us as we dig deeper into learning systems challenges, solutions and trends Down Under. Tune in now or read on…
AUSTRALIAN LMS TRENDS – KEY TAKEAWAYS
- The hot new Australian LMS market sector involves customer education and external audience training.
- Recent business issues such as the Great Resignation have profoundly shaped Australian LMS trends. This parallels the U.S. market in multiple ways.
- Acorn is capitalizing on these trends as a technology partner that is local, nimble and customer-focused.
AUSTRALIAN LMS TRENDS – Q&A HIGHLIGHTS
You have a unique story about founding Pursuit Technology. Could you start with that?
Basically, while I was at university with a childhood friend, we started building websites and mobile apps. At first, it was for family and friends, but then it grew into a viable small business. And eventually, a public servant in Canberra was impressed with what we built for him, so he asked us if we’d ever thought about learning management systems.
Of course, we were more than happy to have a crack at it. So when some tender contracts came out, we responded, and we won. Then we actually had to build a system. So we looked around at the market and found that Australian LMS platforms were pretty lackluster. Don’t get me wrong, the market is very different now…
It’s OK. Go ahead, tell us what you really think…
Well, there just weren’t any good Australian LMS platforms. They were archaic. It was like the Land That Time Forgot.
It was weird. LMSs were just not very nice to users. So we put one together that probably didn’t have all the functionality that other systems had, but it was really easy to use.
Also, we really cared. When people called, we literally would pick up the phone and ask, “What’s the problem? We’ll fix it.” And that ethos has stayed with us.
We’re about eight years old now, give or take. But within 12 months of taking on our first client, we were servicing about 36 federal government agencies. And we’ve kept every client since then.
So we have 100% client retention, 100% client satisfaction, and our average support desk response time is 15-minutes.
That’s how we grew—very organically—until the last couple of years, when we started to look at reengineering the system. That’s when we started to look around outside of our vacuum.
We learned from asking our clients, “What do you want? What do you need? Is this just a symptom, or is it an actual problem?”
We looked closely at their answers, diagnosed issues and worked them out. Then we started building features and functionalities to solve those issues.
By last year, we had about a million users.
We’ve come a long way. And we’ve developed a lot of scar tissue along the way. But we’re really proud of how far we’ve come.
That’s a great story. So let’s look at the corporate side of the market. Where are Australian LMS solutions in terms of business adoption?
Over the past five years, it has ramped up quite a lot. Previously, it was quite common for business clients not to have any system in place. They were looking for a solution.
But the pandemic escalated that. Many started to look because compliance training drove them to find a learning platform that could reach people who were working remotely.
The pandemic also made organizations rethink their overall tech stack. They knew they had to deliver to a remote workforce. And that meant the user experience had to be solid, whether it be for onboarding, professional development or whatever.
So the pandemic has been a big factor in propelling the Australian LMS market?
Yeah. It really escalated things over here. People have stopped taking their learning systems for granted or thinking of them only for general compliance purposes. Now it’s turned into much more of an employee value proposition.
As the rate of change escalates, organizations are saying, “We really need to train our people because all the stuff that they knew last year is changing so rapidly now.”
So rather than aiming for transformation, organizations are realizing they just need to stay current. They want to make sure they don’t fall behind in bringing everyone’s skills up to standard and keeping them there.
So the Australian LMS market has evolved a lot because of the pandemic. But I think it really just accelerated what was going to happen, anyway.
Yep. That seemed to happen around the world. So, do you see interest in customer education now?
To be completely honest, I think customer training is exploding. Reaching outside of the organization and training other stakeholders is something that wasn’t really at the forefront. But now that’s changing very, very quickly.
Obviously, employee training is critical, and organizations are focusing on that. But they’ve also realized that, if they spend some time training customers, they won’t need to invest as heavily in employee training and other things.
Plus, customer training ROI is very easy to calculate, and it’s very transparent. So it’s easy to win executive buy-in for it.
Actually, I think the explosion in customer training is tied to the Great Resignation. It’s hard to recruit staff at the moment. Businesses don’t have the resources to spend as much time supporting customers in various ways. It makes sense to train customers upfront to better understand their products and services.
Yep. It makes sense.
It’s not just businesses driving this change. The market is also moving towards self-service. Customers always wanted to help themselves. But now both companies and customers want it, so the rate of uptake we’re seeing in customer training is just like, wow.
That’s great to hear because customer training is the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. market.
Yeah. Whereas at the moment, internal training it’s much more around employee retention. Companies are focused on keeping their staff because the market for talent is so competitive.
Employees want career pathways. They want clear opportunities to grow. They generally don’t want to just spin like a cog in a machine. They want to learn and experience new things. So that’s a valuable approach for employers to attract and retain talent.
I didn’t realize the Great Resignation applied all over the world, and you’re dealing with the same shortage of workers in Australia. It’s an interesting business parallel.
We have the hottest labor market we’ve had in 50 years. I think our unemployment rate in Australia is somewhere below 3%, which is almost TOO good.
Yes, it sounds too good. But whenever it’s too good, it’s great for our industry. Because when it’s about retaining and growing folks, that’s when our industry really shines.
So what’s the state of the Australian LMS market from a content perspective? For example, what’s happening with bandwidth and its impact on mobile and online learning…?
…FOR COMPLETE ANSWERS TO THIS AND MORE QUESTIONS ABOUT ONLINE LEARNING AND AUSTRALIAN LMS TRENDS, LISTEN TO THE FULL 30-MINUTE PODCAST!