Today we have a prime example of how Blackboard has been failing by not succeeding fast enough. The company issued a press release announcing “availability of new SaaS offerings.” After last year’s BbWorld, I wrote a post about how badly the company was communicating with its customers about important issues. One of the examples I cited was the confusion around their new SaaS offerings versus managed hosting:
What is “Premium SaaS”? Is it managed hosting? Is it private cloud? What does it mean for current managed hosting customers? What we have found is that there doesn’t seem to be complete shared understanding even among the Blackboard management team about what the answers to these questions are.
A week later, (as I wrote at the time), the company acted to clarify the situation. We got some documentation on what the forthcoming SaaS tiers would look like and how they related to existing managed hosting options. Good on them for responding quickly and appropriately to criticism.
Now, half a year after the announcement, the company has released said SaaS offerings. Along with it, they put out an FAQ and a comparison of the tiers. So they said what they were going to do, they did it, and they said what they did. All good. But half a year later?
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In my recent post about Blackboard’s new CEO, I wrote,
Ballhaus inherits a company with a number of problems. Their customers are increasingly unhappy with the support they are getting on the current platform, unclear about how they will be affected by future development plans, and unconvinced that Blackboard will deliver a next-generation product in the near future that will be a compelling alternative to the competitors in the market. Schools going out to market for an LMS seem less and less likely to take Blackboard serious as a contender, which is particularly bad news since a significant proportion of those schools are currently Blackboard schools. The losses have been incremental so far, but it feels like we are at an inflection point. The dam is leaking, and it could burst.