Thought Industries Cognition 2023 Recap: Experience the Business of Learning

Thought Industries
November 7, 2023

Customer, Partner, and Professional Learning Leaders Gather to Discuss How to Adapt, Innovate, and Scale in a Competitive Market.

BOSTON – November 02, 2023 – Thought Industries, the leading external enterprise learning platform for customer, partner and professional training, recently completed its annual enterprise learning conference, COGNITION 2023, a chance for leaders and practitioners in customer, partner and professional learning to immerse themselves in four days of in-depth sessions, fascinating keynote speeches, illuminating roundtables and essential networking. Here are the key events and takeaways from the conference.

Customer Awards Recognize 5 Trailblazers in External Learning

Thought Industries annual Customer Awards have become a powerful and inspirational part of the annual COGNITION conference, drawing attention towards customer success stories across various industries that have used the Thought Industries platform to build and deliver exceptional learning experiences. 

Congratulations go to: 

  • Exterro for the Power Launch of their learning platform, including in-person, online and on-demand software training,
  • Educate 360 who won our Business Impact award, highlighting their new revenue stream that has already made more than $80k through in-platform revenues, 
  • Enverus for Innovation, using five different learning options for energy professionals,
  • ITI (Industrial Training International) for Learner Experience, increasing subscriptions by 520% in just a single year, and
  • Celonis, winning the Overall Excellence award, after a year focusing on continuous education, localization, and a robust certification program.  

Day 1: Three Superb Keynote Speeches

CEO Barry Kelly opened Tuesday with a powerful keynote speech that looked back on a decade of Thought Industries. He shared the story of how the company has grown over the past ten years, founded on two critical pillars, the ultimate respect for the learner, and learning business optimization. With 21M active learners on the platform, 51M course completions, more than 20M certifications earned, and more than $1B managed on the platform, the company has become synonymous with powering the business of learning. In particular, Barry called out Panorama, Thought Industries’ multi-tenancy solution that supports B2B learning at scale. 379 of the Fortune 500 currently use Panorama, and customers have used the platform to generate more than $1B in learning license revenue. 

Barry then looked to the future and made some specific predictions for where learning experiences are headed. In particular, he pointed to new functionality designed to aid comprehension, and the way that AI will move the needle across all areas, from tools that improve learning delivery, to a leap forward in how content is created, and a true revolution in how the impact of learning is measured. 

Donald Clark then took the stage to discuss the future of AI in society and in learning technologies. There’s no doubt that AI is a huge opportunity but there are risks. Donald shared how AI will fundamentally change how we learn, why we learn and even what we learn, and provided practical examples of how to think strategically about AI. 

The third arm of the keynote tripod was given by Raghu Viswanathan from MongoDB University, discussing their integration with Thought Industries. The session discussed the age-old dilemma: how do you leverage out of the box functionality to achieve scale, while still customizing the experience for multiple audiences that require different content? MongoDB University used the core Thought Industries platform to serve multiple audiences with Panorama, created 16 out-of-the-box and custom integrations, and delivered a personalized, custom learner dashboard using Thought Industries’ headless framework, Helium. 

Additional Day One Highlights:

  • Julie Cochrane from Charles River Development discussed how they use TI to boost efficiencies through Event creation, Certificate delivery, Learner notifications, Scheduled reports and more. 
  • Donna Weber, Customer Success thought leader and author of Onboarding Matters, shared her thoughts on how to create an exceptional customer experience. 

Day 2: Thought Industries Announces Expanded AI Capabilities 

Wednesday began with some exciting product announcements from Thought Industries Chief Product Officer, Todd Boes, and members of the Product team, focused on how generative AI is going to enhance the TI platform. Mr. Kelly commented, “We see the opportunity to give our customers some new super powers, including time saved creating content and designing courses, the ability to offer near real-time, personalized feedback and content recommendations that will help set a new standard in the creation and delivery of modern, exceptional learning experiences.” 

Thought Industries will incorporate generative AI into its platform in four important ways:

  1. Accelerating Content Generation: Adding a generative and prompt-based element to make content creation even easier in the Ti platform, accelerating content production timelines for training materials & assessments. 
  2. Decreasing Operational Friction: AI-powered site design and building will dramatically reduce development and production time. This no-code building functionality means customers can easily optimize web and mobile experiences solely through an AI-powered prompt interface.
  3. Personalizing Coaching at Scale: With AI-powered video assessment, all learners can receive speedy feedback and coaching that is truly helpful (including notes on soft skills), while experts and instructors spend their time only in the areas where they will have the most impact.
  4. Serving Highly Relevant Content: Thought Industries has always worked to make learning as relevant, personalized and close to the moment of need as possible. Ti’s recommendation engine and machine learning algorithms are a critical part of this vision. 

Later in the day, Paul Merrylees, VP Content and Product Marketing took the stage to discuss the Power of Partnership. He shared the TI maturity model, which tracks five discrete stages that organizations go through as they become more mature with their customer learning. This correlates with greater business impact and more concrete wins. This imperative to mature and differentiate is now too important to ignore. 

Paul’s session was a fantastic opportunity to ask the hard questions about what’s holding back your own learning function, and discover what’s possible with the help of technology like Helium, Thought Industries’ own headless framework. 

The final spotlight was on Chief Customer Learning Officer at Scaled Agile, Daniel Quick, and his keynote on Learning at Scale. Daniel went through the Four Cornerstones of Scale, and shared how these can be used as guiding principles when looking to scale learning for a global audience. How can you build systems with flexibility in mind from day one? How can you accelerate the flow of work to get more done in less time? What’s the best route to meeting diverse needs of global learners? Daniel answered all of these questions and more to provide a blueprint for how organizations can deliver relevant, engaging and impactful learning experience while driving true business value.

Additional Wednesday Highlights

  • Dave Derington shared his insight on the power of training, during his session, ‘How 1+1=3: De-mystifying Outsourced Services,’  “People often hesitate to invest in training, and it often gets cut. However, what many fail to realize is that without proper training, you can’t fully leverage the product’s potential.” 
  • Track II enjoyed a roundtable on how winning learner experience can translate to business impact in EMEA, hearing from five education leaders who continually deliver high-impact learning experiences, and their visions for the future. The session was hosted by The Fosway Group and featured learning expertise from Avado, Education & Training Foundation, Celonis, and more. 

Day 3: Introducing Project Relay and Understanding Customer Alignment

The first keynote of the day was with Thought Industries’ Jill Sawatzky, Chief Customer Officer, and Jon Synnott, Senior Director Customer Success. Discussing customer alignment, the pair introduced Project Relay, encouraging collaboration across departments and facilitating information sharing in the service of customer value. Just like a relay race, each team passes on the baton of information to the next. 

The session was a practical discussion of how to harmonize with customers’ needs, expectations and goals, and how to build stronger ties with customers by focusing on their definition of success.

Philip Cahill, Thought Industries VP of Customer Experience then followed up to discuss the customer journey, breaking it down into four major parts. First, organizations need to find the right solution, before implementing it, maintaining, and scaling its impact. At its core, this session was also all about customer alignment, and how teams can find a solution that supports the whole business across various departments by understanding the importance of the customer journey.

Additional Thursday Highlights

  • Assessments is a huge topic, and we loved this panel discussion led by Ben Hartfield from The Hackett Group, discussing what certification means for the industry, and providing a deep dive on all things credentialing. 
  • Led by customer education leader, Evan Hall, a panel discussion on AI allowed a rockstar group of experts to discuss how they are already leveraging the benefits of AI, without getting distracted by the bells and whistles. This roundtable shared tips for how to grab hold of AI at scale, and support teams with learning the right skill sets at the right time.  
  • The day closed off with an exceptional roundtable with enterprise learning leaders from Google, Mastercard, Dell and Hewlett Packard Enterprise, who discussed how to build and scale a high impact customer learning organization. They discussed technology, the power of AI, and some smart strategies to get that all-important alignment from the C-suite. 

About Thought Industries 

Thought Industries powers the business of learning with our industry-leading learning technology. We were founded in 2013 around the core belief that online learning experiences should be modern, intuitive, engaging, and scalable. Today, our growing team builds and maintains the only learning solution with completely native tools and integrations that drive higher engagement, learner proficiency, and retention rates for our customers. Headquartered in Boston, Thought Industries has offices across North America and Europe. For more information, visit and follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.


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