What magpie is not

By Marc Zao-Sanders

2 minute read


This is what magpie is. Sometimes it’s also useful to describe or define a thing in terms of what it is not.

So here’s the inverted piece with regard to magpie.


magpie is without a capital M. Not even at the start of sentences or paragraphs. Drives some people even in our own company mad.

magpie is not search. It includes search, for those users who have a clear idea in mind of what they’re after. But really we’re trying to push or nudge users to material they’re going to like, enjoy and find useful. Search is pull and recommendations are push. magpie = recommendations = push / nudge.


magpie is not compliance. Recommendations are a nudge towards something that might be useful but that you don’t have to do. Compliance you have to do. Sometimes we’re asked if magpie can accommodate compliance. Absolutely not. We don’t want to blur the line between the elective and the compulsory. magpie is about the elective, self-determination, a personalized experience, using data and technology and a deep understanding of content and skills to improve individual careers.


magpie is not command-and-control. Sometimes we are asked if L&D of managers can control what users are recommended. While there’s some flexibility, the point of recommendations is to improve the skills, productivity and fulfillment of the end-user - this is about individualism, autonomy, self-determination.


magpie is not a social tool. Our view is that people share and discuss and collaborate wherever they want: email, WhatsApp, Slack, Teams, SMS, Yammer, etc. We make the recommendations. If they are good, people will find their own way to share. Relates to not being command-and-control. We use Slack here and our most active channel is the learning channel where we share useful materials, as kindly as we can.


magpie is not content. The proposition is to substantively lift discovery by your workforce of useful content you already have. We add more value by taking content away and then prioritising the higher-calibre remainder. We preach less.


magpie is not a Learning Management System. LMSs are not all that well defined but they all have a long list of features. We focus on recommendations. Also, an LMS is a vast repository. magpie is the opposite - see above. magpie is also not a Learning Experience Platform, for similar reasons.


magpie is probably not your competitor. In 2018, we’re the only company focussing exclusively on this niche of learning recommendations. This means we work with one or several of the constituents of your current learning set-up (content, LMS, LXP, HR system, Unified communications software like Slack, Teams, Atlassian).


magpie is not anywhere, in particular. It can stand up on its own as a web app, it can integrate with a LMS or LXP, it can sit on top of a content library and through the API it can be delivered through any software.


magpie is not just AI. The nuances of adult education are hard. Machine learning brings a lot to the table. But making calls about roles and skills and content is very often best done still by human (often curation) experts, ideally between consultative teams. Humans remain in the loop.


That’s what it isn’t.

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