Update on Academic LMS Market Slowdown

Given the LMS market slowdown in 2018 that we first commented on last summer to our LMS Market Analysis subscribers and in January in an e-Literate blog post, we’ve been watching for changes in overall activity. There are significantly fewer LMS new implementations (switching from one LMS to another, or selecting institutional LMS for first time) compared to a year prior, but is this a temporary change in activity or a longer-term trend? In particular, we’ve been tracking trailing 12 month (T12M) new implementations data, since that data removes the seasonality variances of the LMS market, in the four global regions we cover (North America, Europe, Latin America, and Oceania). As we approach our mid-year market analysis report as well as multiple LMS users conferences in July, we’d like to provide an update.The figure below tracks new implementations across four global regions from September 2017 through May 2019. Since we collect not just snapshots but historical data with our partners at LISTedTECH, the coverage per any given period grows over time as new implementations are detected. For this reason, we use static monthly reports as of the end of each period to make the year over year comparisons, enabling us to make more accurate year over year comparisons that inform observations about the direction of the market. The key issue here is data trends, not absolute values.Note: The following is based on institution counts and is not scaled by enrollment.

Some notes worth considering:

  • Even with T12M data smoothing, the trends are still somewhat lumpy, which is the nature of academic markets.

  • The market for implementations seems to have peaked at the end of the spring 2018 academic calendar and then dropped to current levels that represent a plateau rather than ongoing downward trend.

  • New implementations are trending slightly upward in the global market in recent months. December 2018 T12M data show 277 new implementations compared to 291 new implementations as of May 2019. Some of this uptick can be attributed to the Galileo institutions in Europe and Latin America that migrated to Blackboard earlier this year.

  • Using a separate metric of new wins (First Seen data), there has been an increase in June with some notable big changes.

The next three months are likely to shape the trajectory of the market for the rest of the year. The summer is when we are most likely to observe new institutional decisions made during the Spring academic term, it is also a peak for schools completing a migration, and it provides the opportunity for us to speak to large numbers of LMS clients at the vendor user conferences. For now, the slowdown continues, but watch for updates this summer. I’ll end with a quote from January’s blog post, as it remains true today.

Hopefully this data description of market activity hasn’t been too tedious, but there are strong arguments that company financial health in 2018 / 19 for the providers will continue to have an outsized impact on the future of LMS offerings.