Learning providers have existed since the first days of the PC revolution about four decades ago. As computing spread, organizations around the world needed to teach people the basics, from how to program and calculate using a spreadsheet, to how to network and make the most of new computing tools.
Typically, training was managed and profitable when companies launched products on two- or three-year cycles. The retention period of the content was longer, and the training providers used a variety of delivery methods to maximize the potential of their intellectual property, including personal training, books, videos and CDs.
As the Internet spanned the globe and multimedia could be delivered anytime, anywhere, learning providers began to feel the heat from a host of new options. On the one hand, they had to compete with free, often low-quality learning options through YouTube channels and the like. On the other hand, they have been pressed by the upper end of the market: large portals for training technology providers, especially those that provide the enterprise’s licensed space.
What was once a bustling learning provider ecosystem has shrunk, and with the COVID-19 crisis virtually extinct any personal pursuits, some have announced the end of the road for training companies. However is that so? For those who insist on offering age-old foundations, this may be the case. Computers have become so ubiquitous and consumer-focused that most people no longer need basic training in using a phone, PC and word processor than they need when they buy a car, TV or refrigerator or use Facebook or Netflix. The simplest adaptation will do. In fact, most business-to-consumer (B2C) tools are now focused on making their products (hardware and / or software) intuitive enough for users to learn on their own.
But what about the highest market category? Unlike consumer information technology (IT), the global drive for digital transformation makes learning increasingly necessary. Some organizations are breaking world records by training their employees through mass expansion. Why such a difference? More importantly, how can training companies take advantage of this?
Let’s start with three reasons why organizations are empowering like never before:
The time to market is now considered days, not months or years, which has two consequences. First, organizations do not have the luxury of long trial and error and need to move fast. To enable this speed, they need training support. Second, which is also important if they do not move fast, others in the market will quickly shift their level of knowledge, risking profits. Thus, the opportunity for training providers is to accelerate the learning of their customers and, very importantly, to support it.
2. “How” and “When”
Organizational requirements for training have changed over the past 18 months, and they may never return to what was before the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizations that have not yet experienced this are now familiar with the effectiveness of distance learning in any mode (on demand, under the guidance of a teacher or mixed).
More important than the form factor of learning content has been how often an organization can deliver it and how well it can tailor it to the needs of the organization and its entire ecosystem. For example, in the midst of a pandemic, a major technology provider created videos that organizations could release regularly without much fuss, rather than waiting months to create SCORM courses. The goal was rapid scalability instead of a boiling approach.
Communication has perhaps become the most important feature of all. Organizations need knowledge and they need it quickly, but they don’t want to take risks of compliance. They don’t want external platforms that reduce the overall experience of their users. Instead, they want to keep their users on their own platforms and pull what they need, rather than squeezing users out of their organization to find it.
For the most part, the old paradigm of developing and deploying learning is almost over. It is too slow and static to meet the dynamic transformations taking place in the market today. Learning providers will need to adapt by offering dynamic learning that is scalable, constantly updated and, perhaps most importantly, seamlessly connected to the organization’s own platforms rather than providers.
Training companies have two options for this. The first is to create everything (content, platform and connection) in the house and keep everything at speed in a rapidly changing environment. This option is a barrier for training providers as many are struggling to make ends meet. Second, it is a connection to an ecosystem inclusion network, a cloud platform whose sole purpose is to connect organizations for security purposes. The network provides the necessary infrastructure and native application programming interfaces (APIs) to deliver any content and process in a fraction of the time and cost. This way, the learning provider can focus on creating and dynamically updating content.
The second option not only gives training providers a more affordable solution on a larger scale (on average eight times more). Equally important, it also provides organizations with standardized connectivity options to give their users an optimal learning experience by providing administrators with a more compatible, integrated, dynamic, and visible learning environment.
Ultimately, because inclusion networks are more integrated into outdated enterprise systems, the learning provider will be able to establish stronger relationships from the outset, leading to more volume (potential factor eight times). Simply put, inclusion networks mean more learning business on an ecosystem scale!