SumTotal: Greater Than Its Parts?By Baselinemag | Posted 2004-06-08 Email Print
SumTotal Systems was born from the merger of Click2learn and Docent, and customers generally see the move as a positive step.
The question always bubbles up when two technology companies with similar products merge: Which kid will be the new couple's favorite? Customers of Click2learn and Docent, which merged in March to become SumTotal Systems, generally believe the union is a positive stepthough some are reserving judgment until they see how it plays out.
"Certainly we have some concerns about whether there will be one system that gets preference over the other," says Craig Goodwin, director of training for pest-extermination chain Orkin, which uses Click2learn's Aspen system.
SumTotal says it has been combining the best elements of both systems since November 2003 to form a brand-new learning-management system, to launch later this year. Furthermore, the company says, it will support legacy Click2learn and Docent products through 2007.
Privately, however, SumTotal has told customers the new system will be based largely on Click2learn's platform, which is built on Microsoft's .NET software for Windows servers. The company says the software will also be interoperable with Java application server standards. Will that alienate former Docent customers, who had been expecting a Java-based version? "Our customers don't see it as an issue at all," says Kevin Oakes, SumTotal's president.
That's true for aviation-technology company Rockwell Collins, which uses Docent's learning-management system to oversee training for 15,000 employees. "I've seen their strategy, and I'm confident about where they're going," says Steve D. Junion, learning-technologies manager. "We're in a position to support both .NET and Java." Wachovia, another large Docent customer, also finds SumTotal's upgrade path agreeable. "The timing really works fine from our perspective," says Lisa Gary, senior vice president of learning-management services at the bank.
The Click2learn/Docent merger was preferable to the alternatives, says Steve Hellman, director of learning at creditor-reporting company Experian: "Frankly, we're pleased to see them getting aggressive at combining forces rather than getting swallowed up by a PeopleSoft or Oracle."
Ticker: SUMT (NASDAQ)
Before serving as chief executive officer of Docent, he headed ADAC Laboratories, a maker of nuclear-medicine and radiation-therapy planning systems.
Former president and CEO of Click2learn, which in 1997 acquired the technology-based training company he founded, Oakes Interactive.
Senior VP, Products
Was executive vice president of products and strategy at Click2learn, which he joined in 2001. Previously spent seven years at Microsoft, where he worked in the Windows and directory-services product development groups.
SumTotal Enterprise Suite, due in the second half of 2004, will combine the Click2learn Aspen and Docent learning-management systems. Features are expected to include activity scheduling and tracking, content management, virtual classrooms and performance measurement.
VP, Investment Education
Project: Mutual-fund company launched Web-based investment tutorials, hosted on Click2learn's Aspen, for its customers' 7 million employees with 401(k) accounts.
Steve D. Junion
Mgr., Learning Technologies
Project: Cedar Rapids, Iowa-based manufacturer of aviation electronics and communications equipment handles online and classroom-based training with the Docent system.
Mgr., Kia University
Project: Car maker's U.S. arm uses Docent to deliver online sales, service and technical training to 30,000 employees at Kia dealerships.
Senior VP, Learning Management
Project: Bank uses Docent to manage compliance, sales and other training for 90,000 workers; about 50% of its learning activities are available online.
Dir., Learning & Organizational Effectiveness
Project: Credit-reporting company provides 300 online courses to 4,000 employees in North America with the Docent system.
Project: Atlanta-based pest extermination company handles training registration at 400 field locations with Click2learn's Aspen.