Measuring the ROI of Enterprise Learning for Customers, Partners and Professionals

The Three Key Pillars
of Learning ROI

As the learning industry matures, one question comes up time and time again in our conversations with customers about their learning programs. “How do we measure the business impact of external enterprise learning initiatives?”

With our experience across multiple learning segments, from professional training and customer education to partner enablement and more, we’ve isolated three key pillars that describe the value of customer learning, and, alongside real-world examples — the metrics you can track to prove ROI in each of these critical areas.


Core Business Impact:
Building and Retaining Revenue

Regardless of your use case, learning can have a significant impact on core business impact metrics, such as revenue and customer retention. For organizations who see training as their business, using a platform specifically designed for external audiences can help accelerate revenue growth. For companies that rely on subscription revenue, and train their customers on a complicated product, education is a proven way to improve renewal and upsell rates.

For Industrial Training International, a worldwide leader in industrial training courses and certification for construction use cases, investing in their learner experience had an immediate impact. Their direct training revenue grew 260% in the first 12 months on the Thought Industries platform, along with a 520% increase in subscriptions in a single year.

On the ITI Learning Hub, learners can access a wide range of professional training including VILT courses, customized learning paths for different segments, and even full industry certifications. Not only is this a better learning experience for employees, having all of their training content in one place, it allowed ITI to quadruple the amount of training content it was offering. “We’ve always had disparate systems for enrollment, grades, and course delivery. The opportunity to bring everything into one location is amazing. It’s hard to explain how valuable that is to us,” said Christina Lanham, Managing Director, UK & Manager of Information Systems.

The results of a robust learning program can be just as impactful even when training is not a direct revenue driver, for example in customer education. A leading Enterprise GTM SaaS company has seen a 10-15% increase in logo renewal when just one user in any given account completes a course in their online University, hosted on Thought Industries. They also found a 5-10% increase in closing upsells.

Each of their 30,000 customers benefits from a dedicated space and their own bespoke training across all of their subscriptions, all from one University. On the back end, the company has an executive dashboard where they can see all their customer data in a single screen across multiple products and channels, allowing them to analyze this information, and cross-reference it to pull out the data insights that help the team to prove value.


Product Adoption:
Accelerating Onboarding and Driving Engagement

The next pillar is centered around learner engagement. This starts by acquiring customers through educational assets such as whitepapers and webinars, but continues along a journey where you deepen the relationship with these customers and transform them into champions of your brand.

For the Linux Foundation, investment in their training and certification experience has resulted in a multi-million dollar revenue source. They moved from a mixture of home-grown and external systems to the Thought Industries platform, and were able to drive deeper engagement and adoption of their professional training for more than 200,000 users worldwide, administering more than 40,000 certifications across 19,000 companies.

The breadth of content that the Linux Foundation needed to support led to the business onboarding a number of different training tools, both homegrown and external, all intended for different use cases. The foundation has a catalog of more than 125 courses that cover topics from system administration to AI and blockchain. In addition, training content was deeply blended, covering in-person training, videos, labs, and written certification exams. Today, the company uses a single partner, Thought Industries, to author content and update the curriculum, manage sales and e-commerce functionality, and conduct tens of thousands of certifications, tailored where necessary to specific business needs.

Creating a more immersive, engaging product experience was good for their learners and for the business. “With our previous system, it always felt like we were living on the ragged edge of disaster. Thought Industries provides an integrated system with built-in authoring, e-commerce, and multi-tenant delivery capabilities that we needed to continue our growth. It’s a much more elegant solution than we had before,” said Clyde Seepersad, Senior Vice President for Training and Certification.

Supply chain management software company Arrowstream turned to a learning platform to try to speed up the time it took to teach new customers how to see value with its food service product. As a result, the company has seen a 74% reduction in the time spent onboarding and training. While some industry leaders worry about a drop in customer engagement levels when learning moves online rather than face to face, Arrowstream has maintained a 100% renewal rate since the launch of their learning platform, and has seen a 182% increase in customer log-ins, a powerful validation of their strategy.

Arrowstream was deeply focused on scaling onboarding and training, and took advantage of the interactive features available on the Thought Industries platform to create engaging learning paths for their learners. By guiding them through a sequence of milestones, they could support a greater number of users in getting up and running quickly, without the reliance on customer success or support teams. Once the on-demand training is completed, live training is available to discuss more nuanced use cases or get granular about specific business context, a much smarter use of employee’s time.



Boosting Productivity and Lowering Support Costs

Ultimately, however impactful educating customers, partners, and professionals has proven to be, if you can’t scale training then you’re left increasing headcount to grow the number of learners you can support. That’s why this final pillar is about scaling your support operations through self-service and automation, to deflect the number of support tickets and allow your CS or customer-facing team to limit the repetitive conversations they have on any given day.

Software company Onshape understands the challenges of scaling professional training better than most. Before they deployed the Thought Industries platform, the CS team was only able to serve dozens of customers at any one time — engineers and developers who were tasked with learning Computer Aided Design (CAD). Today, they can serve thousands.

By upgrading its learning platform, Onshape can now allow students from more than 170 countries to access content from any device with a seamless and consistent user experience. Previously, training content was scattered across different platforms, and customer information was held in multiple databases. This made it impossible to measure value. A single learning platform made it much easier to quickly and effectively scale customer onboarding, and track and report on training behaviors to improve the program.

As part of the project, Onshape knew they had to deliver an exceptional user experience that their customers would embrace. “One of the challenges of bringing a new product to market after 25 years is that we faced a very entrenched market,” explained David Katzman, Vice President of Strategic Accounts and Business Development. “So, one of the big obstacles we needed to address was onboarding, or bringing people up the learning curve as fast as possible so that they could use our software effectively.”

Seismic was also focused on driving its ability to scale, and has used customer education to return 6,500 hours to the Customer Support team, and add hundreds of certified users, achieving consistency in product training and ensuring the high quality of the education being delivered to the end users.

Finding that the differences between individual team and department training styles were leading to inconsistent learning experiences, Seismic onboarded a customer education platform in order to reduce unnecessary confusion and friction. Business goals included empowering its extended enterprise and conveying a consistent and exceptional educational experience across its customers’ entire lifecycle.


The More Mature the Learning Function… the Deeper the Benefits Become


Through our industry research with IDC, we’ve found that the more mature companies are in their enterprise learning initiatives, the greater improvement they see in these essential metrics, across all three pillars.


More Maturity Means More Success
Across the Customer Life Cycle



Companies who have reached stage 5 in the maturity model see a 263% increase in the number of brand champions, a 236% growth in customer satisfaction, a 178% boost to demand generation efforts, and a 52% improvement in product and feature adoption. They can onboard customers 43% faster than their peers, and see a 31% quickening of time to value.

The results are in, and no matter what organizational goal you’re looking
to achieve — customer learning is moving that needle.

Ready to take your training potential through the roof?
Let’s schedule a time to walk you through the Thought Industries Learning Cloud.