Web-based management training company, CrossKnowledge, has published the first in a series of distance learning management programmes developed with the Open University.


The French based company, which began in 2000 and now has more than 1m users of its products worldwide, recently opened offices in London. This move was aimed at serving the UK e-learning market, which is said to be the second largest e-learning market in the world.


In addition to the UK, CrossKnowledge has a presence in France, Belgium, Canada, China, Japan and Spain. Its strategic partners include business schools, such as the Open University and Manchester Business School, and training and coaching organisations, such as Mercuri International and Krauthammer International.


Comment: London might have had a glimpse of the Tour de France a few weeks ago but the French have more than just bicycles with which to invade these shores.  As the international e-learning business consultant Carl Kleman has said: “Of all the European countries, the UK’s e-learning producers have experienced the greatest competition from the US not just because of the (relatively) common language but also because the UK represents a ‘first landing zone’ for the Americans.


“As a result, UK e-learning companies are generally lower valued than other European e-learning companies. This helps to keep the UK e-learning industry generally small and fragmented – because producers have no real incentive to sell their businesses, thus keeping the status quo.


“In Europe, an e-learning company will sell for between one and a half and two times its annual revenue. A major company might be sold for its annual revenue with an ‘earn out’ for the old owners. By UK terms, this is generous.


“This means that competition among e-learning producers is stiffer in the UK than in the rest of Europe. Of course, there are no barriers to entry into the e-learning industry anywhere in Europe – so it won’t be long before producers will need to watch out for competition from the ‘emerging’ members of the EU, such as Romania.”


In the meantime, UK producers will be facing increasing foreign competition from closer to home.