e-Learning surveys

25 November 2002 - According to a new report by Screen Digest, suppliers and commentators exaggerated the size and short-term growth prospects of e-learning markets during the Internet boom.

The report estimates the corporate market in the US at $3.5 billion, and $5 billion globally. This is just a third of what many have predicted. But the urgent need for better approaches to learning and knowledge management - together with the considerable gains in effectiveness and cost made by just a few early adopters - point to a $50bn market by 2010.

"Companies worldwide currently spend approximately $250bn annually on training. Much of this will shift to e-learning and other ways of networking knowledge," says Kieran Levis of Cortona Consulting, author of the report. "However, the claims made for learning management systems and catalogue content were seriously over-stated, and the market forecasts outlandish."

Levis argues that many companies have experimented with e-learning tactically, but the systematic use of IT to enable widespread formal and informal learning has so far been confined to a few early adopters, mainly in the ITC, financial services and consulting sectors. The outstanding examples include Cisco, Dell, IBM, Skandia, Merrill Lynch and Shell. What these companies have in common is that IT and knowledge sharing are critical to competitive success driven by the continuous need to brief large numbers of people on new products and processes.

European markets are much less developed than their counterparts in the US, mainly because the IT industry in Europe is much smaller and levels of Internet access and usage lower. There are also important linguistic and cultural differences, which make it difficult to standardize and sell content globally. European markets will grow faster over the next two years, as IT and knowledge-intensive companies catch up.

The markets that grew fastest up to 2001 were learning management systems and off-the-shelf content, which promised rather more than they actually delivered. Whereas in the future, growth will be higher in integrated systems, customized courseware, portals aimed at both learning and knowledge sharing, and hosted ASP services. The market share of a few large suppliers will rise significantly, but these markets will remain fragmented and it is unlikely that a small number of suppliers could dominate them. And although companies will continue to outsource a growing part of their training, they still need to control their own learning and knowledge strategies. The most valuable content is not generic but rather is frequently drawn from the company’s own knowledge base.

However, there is a massive need for better approaches to learning and knowledge management. Screen Digest expects global corporate spending on e-learning to reach 20% of total training budgets by 2010, creating a worldwide market worth $50bn annually.

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April 17 2001 - SkillSoft Corp., a major provider of business skills courseware for e-Learning solutions, released the results of an independent benchmark survey on e-Learning in the USA and Canada. Directors and senior managers responsible for human resources and training organizations in 300 public and private organizations were interviewed in January and February 2001 by Taylor Nelson Sofres.

Main survey findings included:

* 43% of businesses involved in the survey were in the process of implementing e-Learning initiatives or had already done so.

* 85% of these businesses planned to increase investment in e-Learning during 2001.

* Of the entire sample, 19% of businesses were already using e-Learning for business skills training and 39% of large businesses (10,000 or more employees) were delivering business training via e-Learning.

* An increase of 79% was projected in the number of organizations expected to use e-Learning for business skills in the coming year.

* The main benefits cited by businesses that used e-Learning were: improved workforce effectiveness (67%); reduction in training (60%>; and improved workforce retention (45%).

"We commissioned this survey to get a clear assessment of the use of e-Learning for business skills training. In addition to verifying the rapidly growing demand for business skills content, this survey shows that companies now using e-Learning for business skills training are seeing positive impact on business performance as a result of these implementations," said Chuck Moran, president and CEO of SkillSoft. "This survey also clearly shows that these companies plan to expand e-Learning initiatives into additional business content areas."

A free copy of the white paper e-Learning in 2001: An Industry Snapshot of Adoption and Projected Investments, including detailed study findings is available by e-mailing jdrew@skillsoft.com.

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