Since it was founded in 2013, Learning Technologies Group (LTG) has been consolidating training businesses with the aim of creating a full-service agency. With its latest acquisition, NetDimensions, it seems to have accomplished that goal.
NetDimensions offers a talent management platform that includes an LMS, agile performance management, online assessments, analytics and a mobile learning app. With over 4.4 million active users in 40 countries, NetDimensions is LTG’s largest acquisition to date. With what Jonathan Satchell, LTG’s chief executive, calls an “extremely elegant, well-engineered solution,” it closes the final gap in the content development cycle offered by LTG’s companies.
LEO is a custom content company, gomo learning is a SaaS multi-device authoring tool and Rustici Software is an e-learning software standards expert. Preloaded is a games studio, and Eukleia focuses on governance, risk and compliance training. Satchell says that LTG is interested in acquiring other industry-specific or niche companies after the NetDimensions integration is complete by the end of the year.
Now that NetDimensions is part of LTG, its portfolio companies are starting to offer joint solutions to clients, and NetDimensions CEO Jay Shaw says that they already have some clients in common. “The thinking behind” the acquisition, Shaw says, “is that a portfolio of learning products and services can both sell independently” and be “fully integrated into what is really a next-generation learning platform.” For example, most of NetDimensions’ clients are not only looking for a talent management platform, but they also need an authoring platform; gomo learning can provide that missing piece for those clients.
Satchell says that LTG looks at potential acquisitions from three perspectives:
- Does the business add a capability to the portfolio?
- Does the business bring a new “sector specialization” to the portfolio?
- Does the business enhance or add a geographic area to the portfolio?
In addition to adding the talent management platform to LTG’s portfolio, NetDimensions enhanced LTG’s offerings for high-consequence and highly regulated industries (for example, health care, life sciences, financial services and transportation). It also expanded its presence in North America and added Asia to its geographic reach.
Meeting Business Needs with Technology
Satchell says that LTG’s goal is to help training organizations provide their learners with “contextualized performance support” that demonstrably “makes a difference to business outcomes.” In the fast-moving world we live in, our brains can’t possibly hold everything we need them to. By moving away from linear courses and toward on-demand, chunked training content, organizations can provide “instant gratification of knowledge.”
This trend is perhaps especially important in the industries in which NetDimensions works. For these clients, Shaw says it’s important to ensure “that large workforces of knowledge workers are able to find and share information in ways that are safe and self-correcting.” This user-generated content is “not a free-for-all à la YouTube, but more a semi-controlled environment with quick and useful corrections.”
Technology makes this possible. Artificial intelligence is part of “just about everything” NetDimensions offers, combining content curation with machine learning that draws on usage patterns to anticipate “next steps on the part of users.” With xAPI, Satchell points out, it’s possible to correlate learner data with business results; the LMS provides training managers with data on what employees have learned and the skills gaps they need to fill, and then managers plan the training accordingly.
LTG’s revenue has grown from £7.5 million (about $9.3 million) to more than six times that number in just three and a half years, and Satchell anticipates strong growth and profitability to continue. With its £53.6 million ($66.5 million) acquisition of NetDimensions, closing the content development gap in its offerings, it’s off to a good start.