I’m excited to head to Orlando, Florida next week for our annual conference, BbWorld, which brings together nearly 2,000 educators, administrators and education thought leaders from around the world to share best practices, hear about the latest hot topics in education, and also learn about how our technology can help solve their many complex challenges. The conference is always an energizing and inspiring time for me as we hear about the direct impact we’re having on expanding access to education and driving student success in partnership with our clients.
This year, I’m especially looking forward to sharing updates to our business and how we’re delivering a broad set of capabilities that work seamlessly through our edtech platform. I’d like to preview some of what I’ll talk about next week.
While we’re already delivering most of our products to thousands of clients via SaaS, we’re now focused on bringing our SaaS expertise to Blackboard Learn. We’re seeing strong interest from many of our clients in moving to SaaS deployment for Learn and the momentum keeps growing. We are working in partnership with hundreds of institutions around the globe to explore whether moving to SaaS deployment makes sense for them today. While we have 383 clients who have made the transition already, the cohort of clients planning to move to SaaS this summer grew 70 percent from the cohort that moved in the spring. We couldn’t be more pleased with that direction!
Learn Ultra Update
Once clients move to SaaS, the door is opened to Learn Ultra, our feature-rich next-generation learning management system. This past year Ultra came to life and we are thrilled by the response from our clients. Hundreds of clients ran pilots over the last year, and we’re hearing really positive feedback. We have 61 clients on Ultra and another 35 running active pilots. In addition, 117 clients participated in our last Ultra cohort, which are multiweek sessions with Blackboard where clients learn about and plan for the Ultra experience for Learn.
Working in partnership with our clients, we’ve added features and functionality that are most important to many institutions, including attendance, SMS notifications, cloud storage integration and more. And we’ve also increased the velocity with which we are adding features. If you haven’t experienced Ultra in the last few months, the time is right to take a fresh look! We think you’ll be impressed.
The LMS is at the core of our business and remains a significant priority for us around the globe. And we’re proud that we are serving more clients in more countries around the world than anyone else in the market. But our portfolio of solutions is much broader than the LMS. Our clients are dealing with a range of complex issues in this rapidly changing education market, and an LMS is not enough to solve those challenges.
Instead, our focus is on something much bigger – something no one else in the market can deliver. We are focused on delivering an integrated, flexible edtech platform, architected through open standards to enable our clients to evolve their ecosystem as they choose.
Through our platform, we are able to provide our clients a unique connected experience, bringing together Learn, Blackboard Collaborate, the Blackboard app, data analytics, Blackboard Ally accessibility tracker, SafeAssign plagiarism detector, attendance tracker, financial payments, security solutions and more. And we’re seeing healthy growth of those products, as well as our services, in both the U.S. and other countries.
Proven Operating Model
We’ve made significant progress in executing our strategy over the past few years, and I’m proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish in a short period of time. We’ve been able to execute on those plans and invest in our products because of our profitable operating model coupled with our ownership structure. We have the capability and flexibility to focus investments on long-term, market-driving opportunities that meet the evolving needs of our clients, well beyond the LMS. We benefit from the strong financial backing of our private equity investors and their belief in Blackboard’s strategy as illustrated by their investment of hundreds of millions of dollars in the company over the past 2 years.
In summary, the strength of Blackboard stems from our operating model, the breadth and depth of our portfolio, and the talent and passion of our team.
I look forward to sharing more details on our strategy as a company next week at BbWorld18! See you in Orlando!