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Report: Courseware, Learning Analytics See Most Acquisitions in Ed Tech Market

The ed tech market is restless. With vendors constantly acquiring and merging with other companies and startups popping up every other month, it can be difficult to keep track. Courseware, learning analytics platforms and constituent relationship management (CRM) platforms are the fussiest, with these market segments seeing the most consolidations. Cloud-based student information systems (SISs) are slowly being adopted, while adaptive learning and online program managers (OPMs) seeing the most growth at disproportionate levels.      

Those findings come from consulting and research firm Eduventures, which published its 2017 Higher Education Technology Landscape Report earlier this week. The firm provides ongoing analysis of the technology market to support higher education decision-makers tasked with choosing products from hundreds of vendors. Eduventures routinely asks institutions to provide a list of the vendors they have had prior relationships with, or are considering working with, within 40 market segments.

The firm only includes vendors that have a standalone product within a given segment, according to the report. Institutions also name which vendors routinely come up in competitive bids for institution-wide contracts. On the flip side, Eduventures ask vendors to provide a list of their most common competitors within each segment. The result: a map of vendors within each market segment that is continuously updated with “briefings from those vendors explaining their capabilities and benefits to institutions.” (A visual depiction can be found at the end of this story.)

Notably, the market segments with increasing competition include:

  • Student success and retention solutions;
  • Digital portfolios solutions;
  • Business intelligence and analytics platforms;
  • Online program managers; and
  • Social media platforms.

In terms of mergers, acquisitions and consolidations within the ed tech industry (and there a lot), Eduventures included nearly 500 vendors (boiled down from about 600 the previous year) whose products and services were sorted into 40 categories. Among these vendors, the following segments saw the most merger activity:

  • Learning management systems;
  • Textbooks, digital course materials and courseware;
  • Learning analytics platforms;
  • Constituent relationship management platforms; and
  • Online course providers.

In some of these segments, like online course providers and online program managers, “there were almost as many vendor options as there are academic programs or pedagogical models from which to choose,” according to the report.  

New entrants into the educational technology market are also highlighted in the report. “Eduventures has found that newer entrants to well-established market segments, such as learning management systems, student information systems, or learning analytics, tend to bring with them cutting-edge advances in technologies that meet the expectation of both students and staff better than incumbent brands,” the report stated. “Typically, this means a focus on accessibility, responsive mobile experiences, and support for real-time collaboration among instructors, students and peers.”

Digital portfolios, or e-portfolio solutions, are one particular segment seeing adoption outside of traditional academic use, according to the report. Institutions are finding new uses for e-portfolios in career advising services, admission applications and job placement.

Social media, CRM and analytics are poised for wider adoption as well. “Not only are these three technology platforms getting specific interest from institutions, but most vendors in the other technology segments are also showcasing their own social, analytics and engagement capabilities in a bid to stay competitive and relevant.”  

Cloud-based student information systems are fast approaching ubiquity in higher education. “Nearly every institution leverages some form of cloud-based service or infrastructure” for things like e-mail, educational apps and LMSs, and cloud-based SIS is “just now growing in adoption, as many institutions start moving critical operations and business processes to cloud providers.”

Market segments seeing disproportionately high levels of growth include analytics platforms, online program managers and adaptive learning platforms. “As OPM providers begin to unbundle their offerings to provide fee-for-service models, institutions will have greater flexibility in how they bring their courses online leading to an increase in online courses overall. Other vendors that have not traditionally been considered OPMs will now compete for this business by offering specializations in areas such as instructional design, enrollment marketing or learning relationship management services.”

Eduventures also noted that online proctoring is continuing to grow; the firm forecasts a market size of $450 million by 2020.   

To learn more, the full report can be requested on the Eduventures site.

Image Credit: Eduventures.

About the Author

Sri Ravipati is Web producer for THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at [email protected].

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