The mmb Industry Monitor “e-learning economy” 2018

As is tradition in the fourth quarter of the year when companies close the yearly accounts, the mmb institute has surveyed the German e-learning industry once again in 2018 and gathered extensive information on the sector. This makes the mmb study the only market survey focusing on this dynamic sector positioned in between the education and IT industry.

The latest study was published in February 2019. As usual, it is based on a survey among e-learning providers and depicts data for the two previous years, in this case 2016 and 2017. A total of 31 companies provided thorough and detailed information on their economic data in both years polled. This information was used to calculate the development of sales volume and the number of people employed in the sector, to determine the sales shares of the different business activities, and to give an overview on the key e-learning players in Germany.

The turnover of all polled companies together, extrapolated to an estimated total market size of about 250 companies, shows that the total annual turnover for the e-learning sector is getting close to the magical number of 1 billion euros for the first time this year.

And how does the turnover compare to the previous year? The current survey gives a positive answer to this, too. The turnover increased by nearly ten percent in the year surveyed. This means that “EdTech” – the education technology sector – ranks clearly above the overall economy which registered an increase of a mere 2.2 percent during the same time.

The most important business activity of the sector was once again “providing and selling digital learning content”. This is where the companies create most of their turnover. The biggest part of the money is no longer earned with the creation of content. This business activity ranks only in second place, like in previous years, followed by the increasingly important activity “selling and leasing of tools for e-learning and knowledge management”.

The e-learning sector is still mainly oriented towards projects rather than products. This we gather from the companies’ answers to our question about their dominant business models. More than three out of four e-learning providers say that custom-made products and services dominate their portfolio. This number has grown considerably in the previous years. Back in 2015, it was two out of three. Off-the-shelf (and therefore often more cost-effective) solutions only make up about 23 percent of the total number of e-learning products.

The results of our survey show that the development of the job market is just as lastingly positive as the industry’s turnover. Compared to the previous year, the number of professionals in the EdTech sector has grown by 6.5 percent in 2017. This means that the two-digit increases of the years before that could not be achieved anymore, but the bottom line is a clear increase in the demand for e-learning professionals.

Finally, the industry monitor once again provides empirically sound data on the structure of the e-learning job market. Just like in the previous industry monitor, software developers form the largest group, making up 14 percent. Customer-related activities such as support, consulting, and product management, are strongly represented.

This concludes my brief overview on the results of the latest mmb industry monitor „e-learning economy“. Further infomation – also on the ranking of e-learning providers and the conditions of participation for EdTech companies – can be found here (German only):

The video to this blog can be found here:


The mmb Industry Monitor “e-learning economy” 2018

About The Author
- Dr. Lutz P. Michel studied Slavonic linguistics, journalism and sociology at Münster University and earned his doctorate with a thesis on Russian literature and history of newspapers in 1980. For ten years, he was a research fellow at the university’s journalism institute and also taught at other public and private universities. He has been working in the field of applied media research since 1990, among others as managing director of infas Medienforschung GmbH, Bonn. In 1996, he founded the private research institute MMB – Michel Medienforschung und Beratung (today: mmb Institut GmbH), located in Essen and Berlin. He was the founder and long-term board chairman of the German e-learning network D-ELAN e. V and executive spokesman of the BITKOM work group Learning Solutions.


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