Monday, July 18, 2011

Blackboard Client Exodus

Last week I sort of attended the D2L Users Conference (D2L11), also called FUSION, in Denver, Colorado. I love Denver and the surrounding area, but since I grew up in Cheyenne I've never been too impressed by the whole "Mile High City" stuff. Cheyenne is over 6000 feet in elevation, which I believe is higher than one measly mile.

I was a presenter at the Unconference (emceed by Kyle Mackie) that preceded the main conference, and I closed the evening with a little ditty titled "If I had a Beer..." This unconventional presentation was half-serious and half not-so-much. The basic premise was that a nickle is not really worth very much, so the whole "If I had a nickle for every time I've heard that" thing just doesn't seem to add up for me. However, if I had a beer for each of those times - then I'd really have something of value.

For example - the bit started with the following.

  • If I had a beer...
  • for every stinking time I've
  • clicked a link on the INTERNET
  • only to find that it was a link to a WORD document,
  • then I'd have a whole boatload of beers.
That was followed by a short rant about how stupid it is to put non-web documents on the WORLD WIDE WEB when it's just as easy and much better to put up a web-friendly document instead. There were about 10 of these little snippets of things that either make me crazy or make me go "huh?"

The final little snippet of the evening was a little shot at Blackboard, the recently acquired former-juggernaut in higher education. It went a little something like this, although there were graphics included: (BTW, these were not intended to rhyme, nor did they do so)
  • If I had a beer...
  • for each of the Blackboard clients,
  • that is currently looking elsewhere,
  • then I'd never go thirsty
  • with at least 300 beers in my fridge.
Later that evening, someone highly placed in the LMS industry told me that my number seemed a bit too low. Their research has indicated as many as 700 Bb clients are currently considering a switch to a different LMS.

Seems to me that 300 is a really big number when it comes to potentially lost clients. Clearly 700 is an incredible number. It's also true that Blackbeard won't lose all of the captives (err, clients) - but it begs the question of what percentage of these clients are they likely to lose? If the past few years are any indication, my guess is that they will lose over 50% of the customers who evaluate BlackAngel's offerings in comparison to the competition.

The pic shown below is a view of part of the enthralled audience at the Unconference.

No comments: