In an economic downturn it is essential to demonstrate value to prevent budgets being cut. Today, many internal learning budgets are under increased scrutiny and pressure. The charts below from the two most recent Fosway Group Digital Learning Realities Surveys show that the pressure on spend is increasing.
But there is a group of learners who are so important that you really need to invest in their knowledge and skills to maximise your company’s bottom line. Their training and education is so critical that you can’t afford to ignore it. That’s the training of your company’s customers, partners, and resellers. In other words, your extended enterprise. They are crucial! Without their success, it’s even harder to deliver your own success.
Why training your extended enterprise is so important
Stakeholders that extend beyond the company payroll are a primary source of bottom-line success. So, providing relevant product training for your customers, and those selling to your customers should be a priority. In reality, it’s an important extension of the product itself. Happy well-trained customers use your product more, need support less, extend their contracts and become advocates for your company.
The benefits of excellent training are measurable and quantifiable in this context. However, historically measuring the impact of learning interventions has been a challenge for internal learning teams. From the interim results of the Fosway Group – DL Realities Research 2023 only 22% consider themselves advanced in measuring their value add:
That should not be the case for these externally focused teams where the sales function can often most readily prove ROI from learning. Intentionally targeting these audiences, developing the metrics to prove the extended enterprise training is successful, and therefore your value, will mean you are more likely to weather the economic storm both as a learning team and as a company.
Of course, none of this is new! Training has always been important and delivered to customers as they need it. The delivery started in the classroom and for many it stayed there, until relatively recently when the digital revolution happened, instigated by the global pandemic.
How it can become more efficient and scalable
As we know, during the pandemic everything then had to go online! It was painful, seemed unnatural and many couldn’t wait to get back to ‘normal’. Then came the realisation that actually if it was done correctly there were huge benefits for the learner, the trainer, the company and the planet. By investing in a purpose-built Learning System, the process of training your extended enterprise can be made efficient and scalable. The benefits of using technology includes automation of the whole process, just-in-time delivery of relevant content, and consistency in quality.
Real-time data makes it possible to measure the impact of the learning by combining it with business evidence. If the results are in dashboard format, then regardless of the volume of people, events or modalities there can be the real-time availability for analytics, demonstrating impact. It still requires some effort to combine data, unless there is integration between the learning and CRM systems.
Currently there are more learning teams aspiring to this outcome than have achieved it but the whole industry is maturing nicely in this respect!
And how can you maximise extended enterprise training performance?
Having put the technology in place, it is time to look at how we step-up to another level of maturity. Just going digital is no longer a differentiator – everyone has done it. If you are using trainers in-person again, it should be an intentional design requirement for that part of the course rather than just slipping back into the old ways. Also recognise that online live delivery is very different from in-classroom. Trainers need to be trained specifically in the facilitation of virtual classrooms and provided with the right equipment. This way, the audience has a great online learning experience and does not succumb to digital fatigue.
Personalisation is a massive requirement these days in all aspects of our personal digital experience. From a learning perspective it is easier to deliver a personalised experience digitally rather than in-person. Unless, of course, it is face-to-face coaching which obviously is not practical at scale. However only 2% of our survey responders said their eLearning courses were very personalised.
Adapting the training so that an individual is delivered ‘what they need to know’ minus ‘what they already know’ is what eLearning has been promising for over 20 years but failing to provide. Finally, it is beginning to be delivered in certain situations, and this will increase as the use of AI grows. And 43% of respondents said personalisation is a high priority to enhance the learning experience in the coming year.
Accessing the training on any device is also something that has been possible for some time. But now, with changes in internal IT policies, it is as acceptable in the workplace as it has been for the consumer for many years.
In summary, when choosing a learning system to train your customers and partners ensure the learners experience is personalised, configurable and accessible. But also check that the current innovations with AI have been adopted already or are at least on the roadmap.
Fosway Group is Europe’s #1 HR Industry Analyst focused on Next Gen HR, Talent and Learning. Founded in 1996, we are known for our unique European research, our independence and our integrity. And just like the Roman road we draw our name from, you’ll find that we’re unusually direct. We don’t have a vested interest in your supplier or consulting choices. So, whether you’re looking for independent research, specific advice or a critical friend to cut through the market hype, we can tell you what you need to know to succeed.