Are You Looking For A No-code WordPress Automation Solution?
Are you tired of spending hours coding and troubleshooting your WordPress website? Look no further! Our video introduces you to the leading, no-code automation solution for WordPress Uncanny Automator.
Discover how to streamline your site management, automate repetitive tasks, and quickly boost productivity. Don’t miss out on this must-watch video that will transform how you work with WordPress. We discuss Uncanny Automator with one of its founders Ryan Moore.
#1 – What was the original driver for developing Uncanny Automator?
#2 – What key things do you feel people need to know about Uncanny Automator?
#3 – What are the main differences between Uncanny Automator and WP Fusion or Zapier?
#4 – Do you see solutions like Uncanny Automator as one of the leading ways that the flexibility of WordPress can be maintained but also deal with the need for reliable integration?
#5 – What have been some of the biggest online influences or personal mentors connected to your business career development?
#6 – If you return to a time machine at the beginning of your career, what essential advice would you give yourself?
We interviewed special guest Ryan Moore of Uncanny Automator.
This Week Show’s Sponsors
Sensei LMS: Sensei LMS
The Show Main Show Notes
[00:00:00.000] – Jonathan Denwood
Welcome back, folks, to the WP-Tonic this week in WordPress and SaaS. This is Everard, so 7.79. And we’ve got a great returning guest. We got Ryan Moore, Founder of Uncanny Automator. We’re going to be discussing all things automation, WordPress, running a successful online business in 2023, and the delights and the non-delights of doing that should be a great interview. I’ve got my great co-host with me as well, Kurt. Ryan, would you like to quickly introduce yourself to the listeners and viewers?
[00:00:54.920] – Ryan Moore
Sure, absolutely. My name is Ryan. I’m one of the co-founders of Uncanny Owl. I have another partner, Ken, and we have a team based in Toronto but spread out across the world. We started the company in early 2013, initially with a lot of focus on e-learning because I’ve got a bit of a 20-year history in eLearning, so focused on what was happening in LearnDash at the time. We built some plug-ins for LearnDash starting in 2015 that extended to automation in 2018. Right now, we’ve got eight plugins, about 65,000, and 70,000 sites running our plugins, and a pretty big team. That’s really where we’re coming from.
[00:01:40.670] – Jonathan Denwood
That’s great. I’ve got Kurt with me. Kurt, would you like to introduce yourself to the new listeners and viewers?
[00:01:47.410] – Kurt von Ahnen
Absolutely, Jonathan. My name is Kurt von Ahnen. I own a small agency called MananaNoMas. We focus largely on membership and learning websites, and I also assist WP-Tonic and Lifter LMS in mine.
[00:01:59.140] – Ryan Moore
[00:01:59.710] – Jonathan Denwood
Yes, thank you. Before we go into the meat potatoes for this great interview, I’ve got a couple of messages from our major sponsors. We will be back in a few moments, folks. Are you?
[00:02:12.420] – Ryan Moore
Looking for ways to make your content more engaging? Sensei LMS by Automatic is the original WordPress solution for creating and selling online courses. Sensei’s new interactive blocks can be added to any WordPress page or post. For example, interactive videos let you pause videos and display quizzes, lead generation forms, surveys and more. For a 20% discount for The Tribe, just use the code WPtonic, all one word, when checking out and give Sense a try today.
[00:02:41.930] – Jonathan Denwood
We’re coming back, folks. I just want to point out I’ve got some great special deals from the major sponsors, plus a created list of the best WordPress plug-in solutions. If you’re building a membership, eLearning on WordPress or anything else, you can find all these goodies by going over to wp-tonic. Com/deals, w-tonic. Com/deals, and you find all the goodies there. What more do you ask for? Probably a lot, but you’re not going to get anything apart from the superb offers and the curated list. Sorry to tell you that. Ryan, let’s start off. Can you give us a background? What was the spark? What’s the story behind Uncanny Automator? What made you decide, you and your team, that you were going to undertake this windy road of optimization with WordPress?
[00:03:47.670] – Ryan Moore
Sure, absolutely. As I mentioned, we started the company back in 2013. We were doing a lot with eLearning at the time. By 2015, we were pretty heavily invested in LearnDash Consulting, and we started to release plug-ins for LearnDash. It started with the toolkit and then other add-ons that made LearnDash more usable and extended it to an enterprise audience. There were a lot of capabilities we were adding. At the time, again, our focus was eLearning. We were looking for another plugin and a way to offer more enterprise-class features. One way of doing that was we were seeing that enterprise LMSs were offering—we’re starting to offer personalized learning paths and a way to customize learning content and flow based on performance inside courses. Originally, we were looking at, okay, how do we control LearnDash enrollments, and you just flow through LearnDash courses based on things like quiz performance and feedback from instructors and anything else, like how quickly they’re going through a course, things that might affect just how they get the best possible learning interventions and knowledge transfer. Originally, Automator was built around LearnDash as a way to personalize learning. Things like triggers would be when the user achieves a quiz score.
[00:05:10.870] – Ryan Moore
Then based on that, we enroll somebody in a course. LMSs at the time were starting to offer things like that too. A similar model where there were triggers and actions inside learning. For Automator, for us, we started building that thinking, Okay, how do we personalize learning? But then, once we built the model of connecting LearnDash to these other plugins, we figured, okay, this is bigger than learning. Why stop there? With LearnDash, we started adding more integrations and more features. Now, a lot of people would compare it to Zapier or something where it’s an integration or automation model. It is more similar at this point, but originally it was built with learning and mind, not so much as an integration tool. Yeah, that’s where I came from.
[00:06:01.650] – Jonathan Denwood
That’s great. Over to you, Kurt.
[00:06:03.280] – Kurt von Ahnen
I love the idea that it started with eLearning because that’s a passion for me. But when I think about folks that might be wanting to use Uncanny Automator, could you just touch on what are some of the key things that people need to know about the product if they’re thinking about using it?
[00:06:21.750] – Ryan Moore
Sure. Automator itself is, of course, now a big product, integrates with a lot of platforms, plug-ins. It’s really focused around how do we connect things together to make workflows easier with WordPress, but also how do we automate routine tasks and how do we save development costs and reduce the number of plug-ins people need on a site and just customize the WordPress experiences people are having to make it easier to work with. There’s not really a specific audience necessarily. It’s not just Lifter users or LearnDash users that might benefit. It’s really anybody that wants to make WordPress easier to work with is doing routine functions sometimes, or that has workflows for users that they want them to go through. The basic model with Uncanny Automator is something happens, then we make other things happen, whether it’s on the same site and the same plugin or other sites, other apps. Common examples would be you have a new blog post and you want to share it on social media. Then the trigger in our example, like what starts an automation would be new blog post, and then we can share that with Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, whatever. But it’s not just that thing.
[00:07:41.970] – Ryan Moore
It could be, again, somebody in Lifter completes a course, then we want to record that completion for a reporting and air table. We can pass the completion record and the user data off to air table, so we can generate reports. Or it could be an admin function like everybody who has this CRM tag, we want to make sure they’re in a specific buddy boss group so we can run a recipe based on that or an automation. It’s really anything that someone might want to do on the WordPress site that they can automate, we try to make it possible for them to do that with an easy to use recipe builder.
[00:08:21.890] – Kurt von Ahnen
Awesome. I have a follow-up to that, if it’s okay, Ryan?
[00:08:24.980] – Ryan Moore
[00:08:25.490] – Kurt von Ahnen
As an outsider looking into product development, I think of making my own plugin as being like, Oh, my goodness, if I make the plugin, I got to constantly keep it updated. I got to constantly keep the new versions. And then you have a product that’s connecting to all these other products.
[00:08:42.780] – Kurt von Ahnen
So does that exponentially make your task more difficult? Or do you depend on the other power partners to keep their stuff up to date and yours is just there?
[00:08:53.690] – Ryan Moore
Yeah, we do hope that other partners don’t change too much maybe on their side. But I would say we don’t see a lot of that. We’re keeping on top of who we integrate with and what they’re doing and how are they supporting things at the API level. But we don’t see a lot of issues in terms of updates from other people affecting what people are doing. Just in terms of the example of creating a plugin or making things easier for developers, things can get outdated with custom plugins or even one-off plugins. We’re trying to use functions everywhere that are well supported by other plug-ins, API partners, whatever it is. There’s a lot we do with Webhucks too. By not only allowing the public plug-ins to integrate easily, but also we have… It’s easy to run custom functions or methods or WordPress hooks that you can hook in. You can connect any custom code to Automator too just to make it easier instead of building everything from scratch, that you can just build the pieces you need to and let Automator handle the other things so that there’s a framework in place that you can build on instead of starting over.
[00:10:12.650] – Kurt von Ahnen
I love that. Over to you, Jonathan.
[00:10:15.430] – Jonathan Denwood
Yeah, sure. Ryan, I’m going to say something really nice to you, Ryan. Don’t be too shocked. I know many in the WordPress community don’t link me with nice things, I say. But I actually think your product and you got some competition, but because of your background and you’ve been in the WordPress space and you’ve tried to do things the right way, I actually think it’s one of the most key products in the WordPress space because I think one of the things with WordPress is that people love the flexibility, ownership, digital authority that WordPress gives, all the good things we know about WordPress. But we know getting different bits to work together. There’s a temptation to build what I call a walled garden, which in my mind is the worse of SaaS combined with the worse of WordPress. You still got a host, you still got to update the plug-ins, and you have the confinement of what SaaS offers. I see you and your solution as one of the ways that enable people to integrate with other plug-in key Lego parts, as I call them, so they can keep the flexibility, but get the functionality that they would get with the SaaS.
[00:11:54.190] – Jonathan Denwood
Can you see where I’m coming from? Would you agree? Is that one of the key things that you’re trying to achieve with Uncanny Automator?
[00:12:06.620] – Ryan Moore
In terms of connecting ecosystems and maybe breaking some barriers, then for sure, as much as possible, we’re trying to integrate with as much as we can that users are asking for and where we can reasonably do so. Certainly, there are situations where maybe some plug-ins aren’t supportive and it’s harder for us to integrate. But usually plug-in partners and other partners are receptive. We want to make things easier for the end user as much as possible. Breaking those barriers helps, I think, in that regard. And we want things to be really flexible. Right now, Automator has almost 150 integrations. We’ve got over 2,000 triggers and actions, well over 5,000 tokens. There’s a lot you can do from a lot of different platforms to try to make that easier I.
[00:13:00.830] – Jonathan Denwood
Get a lot of people ask me, or regularly I get people ask me, what we offer and can you automate to this part of our hosting package and we love it. But we get a lot of people are and we also one of our other great partners is WP Fusion.
[00:13:20.270] – Ryan Moore
[00:13:21.210] – Jonathan Denwood
Get a lot of people ask, and then you’ve got something like another great partner, these fluent CRMs. I get regularly asked, What’s the difference between Ang and Cany Automated then WP Fusion or Fluent CRM? I’m sure you get asked this as well. How do you explain?
[00:13:45.600] – Ryan Moore
Yeah, and so does Jack at WP Fusion. We both have articles on our sites trying to explain, okay, how are they different? Because for us, I know a lot of users see that there are similarities. You’re building automations with both. How is that different? But for us, there’s huge stark contrast. Personally, on all of our websites, we’re running WP Fusion as well as on candy automator. Because there are things they do very differently. Wp Fusion, for example, it’s focused around a CRM. Everything happens through the CRM. The workflows happen through the CRM that it’s connected to. It’s got that dependency, and because it depends so heavily on the CRM, then it goes pretty deep. Wp Fusion has great tools for event tracking and tracking anonymous users and enabling some analytics. Even they have membership tools, front and short codes and content protection. There are membership functions available in the plugin too. That CRM focus and going deep with it, as well as some of the membership things, really work for when you’re doing things around a CRM. Whereas with Automator, everything happens in WordPress in Automator. It happens locally. We’re not passing the data off.
[00:15:11.790] – Ryan Moore
We can handle different scenarios. We’re having automations run based on multiple triggers instead of just having things tag-based or list-based. Also, we’re not just basing things around users. The example I gave before of when a post is published, share it on social, you can’t do something like that. It doesn’t fit with WP Fusion and a CRM, where it’s all very much around the user as the focus. We’re doing things with posts and users and integrating with other platforms like Google Sheets and Airtable, Slack, messaging, Twilio, Facebook, whatever. All of those things wouldn’t really be a fit for WP Fusion because it’s focused on contacts and users and profiling, whereas we go beyond that in different areas. Does that help at all? Both are somewhat automation tools, but theirs is focused on the CRM and the user and membership. We’re focused on complex automations and connecting things with Webhucks and other platforms and postdata and system maintenance functions, those kinds of things.
[00:16:22.500] – Jonathan Denwood
Honestly, I say to people that WP Vision is more about integrating with a native CRM.
[00:16:33.960] – Ryan Moore
[00:16:34.860] – Jonathan Denwood
We are a partner with Fluent CRM because they’re just fantastic people like you. And we say, Well, that WP Vision just provides more tagging power than what Fluent CRM provides. It just puts it on steroids. Then if you ever, for any reason and want to migrate to another platform, it’s going to be easier because you’ve utilized WP Fusion for that tagging, where we describe your product as the WordPress equivalent of Zapier. But I don’t know if you like that.
[00:17:17.600] – Ryan Moore
Yeah, it’s a fair comparison. It’s different. There are a lot of differences with the Zapier. That one is, I would say, a closer comparison because then we are doing more directly similar things. But Zapier is different. Certainly, it has way more integrations. It’s going to integrate with more SaaS products and apps than we ever could hope to. But they don’t go deep on the WordPress side. In terms of WordPress plug-ins, connecting WordPress sites, working with WordPress data, Automator is far, far ahead. Then there are considerations like data privacy, where if you’re using Zapier, of course, everything is going through Zapier. Whereas for any WordPress data and recipes, it stays in Automator on the WordPress site. It’s not going externally if it doesn’t need to. That’s a big consideration, for example, for a lot of our European users. The plugin itself is GPL and you can check the code, whereas Zapier is not like that. Everything is on their site. It’s a SaaS product. We have the free version too, where anything in our free version, any of the triggers and actions that are in there, you can use them as much as you want. No limits, anything like that.
[00:18:32.090] – Ryan Moore
Even with our pro version too, there are no limits on the number of recipes, the number of recipe runs, anything like that. Because of that as well, our pricing is vastly lower, where a moderately busy site would probably spend in a month on Zapier what they’d spend in a year for Automator. It’s a very different scale in terms of pricing too. Anyway, those are some examples.
[00:18:59.900] – Jonathan Denwood
Yeah, I see where you’re coming from. Just a quick follow-up for you, Christian, before we go for our break. One of the things, obviously, you’ve got different buckets of user base in WordPress, and I’ve noticed that you’ve got a really nice interface and you’ve spent a lot of time, energy, building up a lot of documentation, a lot of training, which isn’t always the case with other solutions, we leave it at that. But obviously, that takes a lot of time and energy. You seem to be not only aiming your product at the implement to the developer, the power user, but also the DIY that’s got moderate knowledge of WordPress. Did you want to do that? Because it would be easier just to aim at the power implemented developer, really, and not try and build all this out. Was that conscious decision that you were going to try and pitch it to all these different constancies?
[00:20:22.070] – Ryan Moore
I wouldn’t say it was intentional. Certainly, like Automator, we built as a tool that we would use ourselves and could use ourselves in a lot of contexts. As well, we did consulting for LearnDash sites from 2013 to 2021. For us, all of our plug-ins have always been based around how do we make things easier for our customers to use and get the features they need on their sites. The breadth is good in that it allows pretty novice WordPress users to build pretty powerful things without having to resort to hiring a developer. Because a lot of people, they’re using Automator for things that would normally require development, as well as the power users. Power users definitely can be harder to support. It’s surprising now how far people are taking Automator. It’s not unusual for us to get tickets with a recipe that might have five triggers and 50 actions and 30, 40 conditions in there. Then they’re like, Okay, it’s not working the way I expected. Can you trace why it’s not doing this? That stuff is challenging. Or like looking through somebody else’s API documentation and figuring out why the header security is not connecting the way they expect.
[00:21:42.720] – Ryan Moore
It’s good to see the breadth and how people are using it and just making sure that we can accommodate those various needs. Because in the end, we’re still trying to provide an automation tool and a simpler way of doing things for everyone, regardless of their skill level or what they need to do. That’s great.
[00:22:01.660] – Jonathan Denwood
We’re going to go for a break, folks. We’re going to delve in more into the world of this great product and Cany Automator and some of the business aspects as well. It should be a great second half. We will be back in a few moments, folks.
[00:22:18.780] – Ryan Moore
This podcast episode is brought to you by Lifter LMS, the leading learning management system solution for WordPress. If you or your client are creating any online course, training-based, membership.
[00:22:34.700] – Jonathan Denwood
Website, or any.
[00:22:35.960] – Ryan Moore
Type of e-learning project, Lifter LMS is the most secure, stable, well-supported.
[00:22:43.130] – Jonathan Denwood
Solution on the market.
[00:22:44.970] – Ryan Moore
Go to LifterLMS. Com and save 20% at checkout.
[00:22:49.330] – Jonathan Denwood
[00:22:50.410] – Ryan Moore
Code, podcast20. That’s podcast 2-0. Enjoy the rest of your show.
[00:22:56.580] – Jonathan Denwood
We’re coming back, folks. Just want to point out, if you’re looking for a great hosting WordPress partner that provides a lot more than hosting, is basically your backup partner. We’ve got some great partnership deals. If you’re a freelancer, a power user, you’re building websites on WordPress for clientele, we are somebody that you should look at as your hosting provider. To find out more about what we offer, you can go over to wp-tonic. Com/partners, w-tonic-partners, and find out the unique packages that we offer to our partners. I’m going to throw you over to Kurt. Over to you, Kurt.
[00:23:49.740] – Kurt von Ahnen
Thanks, Jonathan. Ryan, I don’t know if you know, but Jonathan has another show, The Membership Machine show, and they do a lot of comparisons about WordPress and SaaS and all those things. Our next question deals with the flexibility of WordPress. What is it about Uncanny Automator that you believe is one of those leading ways that WordPress can stay flexible and give people the freedom to build what they want? And to extend that question, to keep it reliable?
[00:24:22.440] – Ryan Moore
Yeah, reliability is key. I’ll come back to that one maybe. In terms of flexibility, again, we’re trying to connect with as much as possible, give people all the triggers and actions and conditions and tokens and other features that they need to build whatever they want. That’s what they are doing with Automator. There are no walls there or we don’t really treat any plug-ins preferentially, either anything or discount any. It’s really based on what we see from users, both what they’re using and what they’re asking for and what we see in the market. For us, we’re just trying to give people as much as we can of what they want and can use. In terms of reliability, that’s a big one. For us, that’s been such a focus since day one, making sure that everything performs consistently. Because with automation tools, if something breaks, it’s bad, you can have data loss. We do not want to see data loss from any automator sites or bigger issues. Our process has gotten really strict and also expansive. Every release, we’re testing against PHP 5.6, 7.4, 8.2. We’re testing in a variety of hosting environments. We have hundreds of automated unit tests to make sure that everything is working as expected.
[00:26:00.380] – Ryan Moore
For communication with API servers, this would be Slack, Google Sheets, Airtable, whatever. Then we have an API server in place handling all of those things, making sure no single user, because certainly we see some heavy users and some users that are exploiting things, like a lot of spam sites. Automation is pretty attractive for spam sites. We’ve got so much in place for rate limiting and making sure that for as many good users as possible, that things run extremely reliably. We’ve had to deal with situations where a malicious site would send half a million Facebook group posts in a day. How do we make sure that we don’t affect other automated users? There are a lot of controls like that in place and we don’t really see issues if another site is down, like another common use for Uncanny Automation, where you have multiple WordPress sites connected together. A common scenario here is you have a marketing site with Google Commerce and then you have an eLearning site with Lifter or something. You’re passing data based on the purchase over to the eLearning site to give them access. If the learning site happens to be down or something else is down, then we have to make sure that there is a way that people can, for example, resend activity or handle deviations.
[00:27:34.430] – Ryan Moore
That’s a focus for us going forward too. Right now, a lot of things like if Facebook API is down temporarily, then you can resend that attempt from the log files. In future, we’ll do things like automated retries. Making sure that everything works and continues to work is definitely very important. For that, we do rely on integration partners a lot, off topic, but we had a related ticket this morning where one of our users hadn’t noticed that Zoom was deprecating their Jwt app. Somebody had an automated… They had an updated Automator for two years and ignored all of emails from us and from Zoom about it. Luckily, it’s only one user, but there are situations that come up where other partners will change something and we’ll try to make sure we proactively let people know and that there’s a solution in place to make sure everything migrates transparently. But yeah, that situation can be hard to deal with sometimes and requires a lot of planning.
[00:28:44.930] – Kurt von Ahnen
Well, the Zoom thing bit a couple of us.
[00:28:47.560] – Ryan Moore
Out here. Oh, really? Well, I.
[00:28:50.440] – Kurt von Ahnen
Sent all the notices you said, but I didn’t get clients that read all the notices just like you said.
[00:28:55.530] – Ryan Moore
Well, we tried like… We sent a notice in November. As soon as Zoom announced it, we built the OAuth system into our plugin. We sent three email reminders out earlier in the year. We had an in-plug-in notification. We changed all our knowledge-based articles, really as much as we could do without breaking sites. Still, we had hundreds of people using Zoom. Seems like it’s only one person affected since Zoom turned it off on the eighth. Relatively, it’s not bad. But you have to stay on top of notifications and what other apps are doing sometimes.
[00:29:37.980] – Kurt von Ahnen
Yeah, absolutely. Jonathan, over to you.
[00:29:42.770] – Jonathan Denwood
I’m a question that’s not planned, but don’t worry, Ryan. What’s been one or two business challenges with this journey with Uncanny Automator that surprised you the most that you didn’t participate on this? How long have you been building up Uncanny Automator? It’s been about four or five.
[00:30:09.030] – Ryan Moore
Years now, isn’t it? Yeah, Automator will have its fifth anniversary in two weeks. It’s been a little while. In terms of surprises, I don’t know. It’s interesting that we started this space in 2018. Zapier was around, but nothing comparable was in WordPress. 2018, 2019 were quiet. Again, we were focused on LearnDash users then because that was our focus and that’s where a lot of the integrations were with the plugin. But then in 2020, then we started seeing other people thinking it’s a good idea, maybe being influenced, we’ll say, by us and the rise of challenges there. It’s been interesting. I’d say one of the things we should have done differently was not focus on that as much. We haven’t. Since 2021, it’s been an afterthought. We don’t really compare what we’re doing with what anyone else is doing at this point. It’s just development based on what users are asking for and what we know the market needs. I don’t know how we’re… I know we’re far ahead in the market of everyone that’s come after and that other people will name their plug-ins after ours and Automator is a common term now. Whereas initially we released it and we called it Automator because there was nothing with that name.
[00:31:42.510] – Ryan Moore
Uncanny was just like the branding we use for all of our plug-ins. We’ve got Uncanny, Toolkit Pro, Uncanny Groups, Tinkani, and Cany Codes. That’s just how we branded plug-ins, but we call them whatever their function is. That’s one, for sure. Not getting as focused as we have in the past on some competitive challenges. I don’t know. A hard one for us, too, as a company, was I think moving away from consulting because it’s what allowed us to build the plug-ins in the first place. It gave us the funds to do so and then also a way to test the products and make sure it was going to be what the market needed. It felt hard, I think, to let that go. We allowed it to take longer than it should have, maybe. Because really transitioning away from consulting for us took about two years to wrap that up, which was hard because we were dividing our time between LearnDash plugins, between automation plugins, and then consulting as well. It was a lot for the team because we weren’t that big a team. For most of that period, we would have been about 10 people. It was hard to like, we can’t devote anyone really to one particular product.
[00:32:57.820] – Ryan Moore
We have to split their time and then it’s competitive. Now that we have focused on the plug-ins and the automator in particular, it’s allowed us to do a lot more with it with that extra focus.
[00:33:12.270] – Jonathan Denwood
Fantastic. I’ve seen you, Kurt.
[00:33:15.880] – Kurt von Ahnen
Well, I guess I’ll bring it up with what have been some of the biggest online influences or personal mentors maybe, that are connected to your business career development and how you guys have chosen to grow or maybe follow somebody else’s footsteps a little bit. Sure.
[00:33:33.030] – Ryan Moore
I’m lucky to have a partner that I started the company with back in 2013. Ken and I have always been able to bounce things off of each other and make sure that we were both in a good place and supported. I would say shortly after COVID hit 2020, and then we had some competitive pressures, that’s when we started having a harder time figuring out where to go forward. We did a fair bit of coaching with Corey Miller at the time. Early on in automated development, certainly I’d say he was a big influence and we worked with him a fair bit. After that, in late 2020 then, we did partner with Syed Balkey, with also Motiv and other companies, where he meets with us and we talk about what we’re doing and changes in the market and our plug-ins and things like that. Having that sounding board and feedback is also very helpful, I’d say. Cool.
[00:34:43.060] – Kurt von Ahnen
Over to you, Jonathan.
[00:34:46.360] – Jonathan Denwood
Obviously, because you’ve got such knowledge in the learning management system, where do you think e-learning is and where WordPress is? I think it’s got gone three, four major learning management plug-ins that are very competitive. Where do you see the scene at the present moment?
[00:35:14.770] – Ryan Moore
It’s always very competitive. I don’t know. There are a lot of players now too. Not just LearnDash, Lifter, and Tutor, but Sense and Learn Press and Master Study and so many different platforms. We support a lot of them with Automator. We do see what people are doing. I think the discussion right now about standardizing data is interesting and the architecture that’s happening in wider WordPress for LMS plugins will be interesting to see. I’m hoping we can contribute further to making learning more personal and effective. Just what we’re doing withwhat we’re doing in Automator and making that easier for people and allowing them to develop more interaction and personalisation. For us, too, like with our LearnDash plugins, we’re doing a ton with H5P and XAPI and Scorm. It’s nice to see that integration too. I know someday maybe we’ll extend that to other plugins so that there are less expensive alternatives for the other LMS plug-ins that can use that data and take interactivity and feedback to the next level. I don’t know, that’s the stuff that’s interesting right now.
[00:36:38.930] – Jonathan Denwood
Kind of, when it comes to… Because obviously there’s the internal world of WordPress competition, but then there’s the bigger picture, isn’t there? The external competition. For obviously understandable reasons, those that are inside the WordPress commercial bubble concentrate on the internal competition, but then you got the bigger picture, the external. What I mean when it comes to learning management systems is you’ve got a whole plethora of SaaS-based learning management systems. I’ve talked about most of them on my other show. But what surprised me is how indifferent most of them are. Really, there’s only 2-3 SaaS learning management systems, Kajabi, maybe, and I can’t think of another one that comes straight in my mind, but there’s a lot out there. But most of them are quite indifferent. Is it just really very hard to build a really good learning management platform?
[00:37:51.540] – Ryan Moore
We don’t follow it as much anymore. I know that a couple of years ago, the last time we tried to do a big survey, we were close to 700 LMS platforms.
[00:38:03.530] – Jonathan Denwood
[00:38:03.990] – Ryan Moore
My God! Yeah. We’ve looked pretty closely at ones like Dochibo and TALON, LMS, Litmos, those kinds of things. This was, again, early on with Automator planning, what are they doing and how can we elevate things with WordPress because they can’t do this stuff? We can connect more and do more. How do we take advantage of that? We don’t follow them as much anymore. I know they’re still not doing as much related to automation as we would. But I will say from the platforms I referenced, we don’t see people moving from them as much as we used to. It used to be on a cost basis. The per-user pricing for a lot of SaaS LMSs was just too high, whereas WordPress was far more cost effective at scale. Especially once you got to 500,000 users, there was no comparison. WordPress is going to be cheaper for simple sites. The feature set is not comparable, but we see less migration, I would say. A lot of the people that are looking at those platforms as well as WordPress, they’re probably going to be more price conscious. Whereas if they’re just looking for Simplicity or Higher End Training Systems or very few users, they’re probably going to start with the Cloud LMS search and SaaS products.
[00:39:25.750] – Ryan Moore
I don’t know, we don’t see a lot of migration back and forth between them. Usually, I don’t know, we see people get focused on one and then go down that path and usually stay down that path.
[00:39:40.060] – Jonathan Denwood
Well, the other thing that occurs to me is learning management system. It’s a bit like a CRM. It’s such a broad term now that it’s got slightly devalued because if you’re a entrepreneur looking to build a business, you’re using Kajabi or WordPress, it’s very different to a large organization that’s looking for an internal training platform. Isn’t that the case with a CRM? You’ve got CRMs that like Active Campaign or Fluent CRM that are active campaign or fluent CRM that are marketing automation platforms. With other CRMs like Salesforce or Zoho CRM that are more sales-orientated CRMs, is that part of the problem as well?
[00:40:28.860] – Ryan Moore
Yeah, it could be. We do see maybe these products take on additional features that leads to more overlap. Even with Automator, initially it was focused on an integration tool, but increasingly, if you’d asked me two years ago, How are you different than Flu and CRM? I’d say, Well, they’re completely different. Flu and CRM can do so much with contacts that we can and would never do. But now we can. There is more overlap. I know other products are doing the same thing. Now someone can submit a form, for example, with Automator, and send a notification to everyone with a particular meta value or tag or membership level in one step, where in the past you would have normally needed a CRM for that. I think as these different platforms do evolve and look for ways to satisfy their users, then they’re offering features that maybe would have required different platforms in future. I don’t know. Increasingly, though, I’d say there’s more overlap. And so, yeah, we see things evolving.
[00:41:35.540] – Jonathan Denwood
Back over to you, Kurt.
[00:41:37.730] – Kurt von Ahnen
Well, Jonathan, please don’t hate me, but Ryan said something in his last response that I want to go back to.
[00:41:43.470] – Jonathan Denwood
I’ll fall you by.
[00:41:48.330] – Ryan Moore
[00:41:49.270] – Kurt von Ahnen
My positions in the past, I’ve had the ability to see the insight of corporations and their decisions on eLearning paths. Like you had just said, people weren’t migrating like what you would expect. For instance, I once worked with a company that had some weird Oracle customization thing that was an LMS that they called it. It barely worked, but they were paying $400,000 a year to host this.
[00:42:16.650] – Ryan Moore
[00:42:18.170] – Kurt von Ahnen
2,500 users. I was like, for 10 grand, I can build.
[00:42:23.640] – Ryan Moore
You a site that works.
[00:42:25.440] – Kurt von Ahnen
They literally said, we’re just not ready for that change yet.
[00:42:29.550] – Ryan Moore
[00:42:30.050] – Kurt von Ahnen
Yeah. And that’s not the only instance where that happened. And I was just wondering if you had any insight.
[00:42:38.330] – Ryan Moore
[00:42:38.680] – Kurt von Ahnen
To what we see as a clear cut economic, logical decision does not happen at the corporate level? And what is not scaring, but what is keeping them from making the leap to affordability and flexibility at the same time?
[00:42:56.630] – Ryan Moore
There are a lot of things. I spent 10 years at a bank doing e-learning before Uncanny. Some similar challenges. Yes, we’d spend a million on a system that somebody could probably build for 50,000. But what support team is there behind it? How does it pass procurement? Is the team big enough? Do they have the financials? Have they done similar projects at scale? Then two, they’re not looking at smaller vendors. They’re looking for people they’ve worked with, like companies, larger companies they’ve within the past that also have the insurance and other things to back it up that would allow them to fulfill this type of project. Risk aversion, I think, is a big one. The unknown. In the past, when we’ve done some larger e-learning projects, certainly some got rejected in the late stages related to GPL. That’s another big issue. We’re not taking on a project where there’s GPL code, where we can’t own it and control what happens. We’ve seen that with LearnDash too, where there was a project we pitched probably in 2015 where it was big, but it came down to, Well, if you can’t say we own LearnDash, then we can’t go forward with this project.
[00:44:14.250] – Ryan Moore
I don’t know. It’s a lot of contributing factors, but at that enterprise level, a lot of it comes down to risk aversion and the procurement process.
[00:44:23.910] – Kurt von Ahnen
That’s great feedback. Thank you.
[00:44:26.650] – Jonathan Denwood
Thank you. I live in America, but I am English, or in temperament and accent. I was a great fan of Doctor Who and The Tildest. If you had your own time machine and you could go back to the early days of your career, what would you like to tell yourself?
[00:44:54.450] – Ryan Moore
I think we covered some of them just with not focusing on some of the setbacks. There were a few times where we’ve really focused on the negative and not on how we keep pushing forward. I think that’s a big one. Again, dragging things on longer than we should have necessarily, instead of just making a decision, being firm with it. I don’t know. We could have moved forward with something more aggressively in the past, some of the decisions we’ve made. I think it could have helped the success of the company just by being better decision-makers and not having… It’s important to have contingency plans, but not to the point where you’re following every path and investing resources in every path, but just figuring out what’s the best one and putting everything behind it. I don’t know.
[00:45:53.750] – Jonathan Denwood
Yeah, I’ll follow that.
[00:45:56.190] – Ryan Moore
For us, too, it took us three years to get any traction in the company. For sure, for the first three years, it was hard just to keep pushing through and believing in the vision and having family, staff, whoever, also supporting that. It’s hard. If for three years you’re not seeing any return then it’s not known what’s going to happen next. It did take us ten years to get to this point. I guess patience again and just believing in the plan and pushing forward.
[00:46:32.300] – Jonathan Denwood
Right. I think we end it now, Ryan. Thank you so much for coming on the show. It’s been a pleasure discussing things with you. What’s the best way to find out more about you and Canny Automator?
[00:46:44.540] – Ryan Moore
Sure. Our website’s uncannyautomator is at automatorplugin.com. Uncannyowels@uncannyowel. Com. Anyone’s welcome to reach out with any questions about our products, the company, or whatever it might be. That’s great.
[00:47:01.700] – Jonathan Denwood
Kurt, what’s the best way for people to learn more about you and what you’re up to?
[00:47:06.600] – Kurt von Ahnen
Well, MananaNoMas. Com is my agency. Feel free to find me there or connect with me on LinkedIn. I’m the only Kurt fan on them on LinkedIn. I’m easy to find
[00:47:16.010] – Jonathan Denwood
I’ve got a couple of favors to ask, tribe, really, to support the show. Why don’t you go and join us on Facebook and join the WP-Tonic membership machine show Facebook group? It’s totally free, and you’ll be an inside member. And also subscribe to the W. P. Tonic YouTube channel. We’ve got a ton of content on that. That would be really appreciated if you could do that. We’ll see you next week. We’ve got some great interviews coming up. It should be a blast. We’ll see you soon. Bye. Hey, thanks for listening. We really do appreciate it. Why not visit the Mastermind Facebook group? Also, to keep up with the latest news, click W. Cp-tonic. Com/newsletter. We’ll see you next time.
WP-Tonic & The Membership Machine Facebook Group
Why don’t you sign up and be part of the Membership Machine Show & WP-Tonic Facebook group, where you can get all the best advice and support connected to building your membership or community website on WordPress?