Training providers have been around since the early days of the PC revolution some four decades ago. As computing began to 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 maximize the use of the emerging computing tools.
Generally, training was manageable and lucrative when companies were launching products on two- or three-year cycles. The content had a longer shelf life, and training providers used a multitude of delivery methods to maximize the potential of their intellectual property, including in-person training, books, videos and CDs.
As the internet swept the globe and multimedia could be delivered anytime and anywhere, training providers began to feel the heat from a plethora of emerging options. On one hand, they had to compete with free, often lower-quality training options via YouTube channels and the like. On the other hand, they were being squeezed by the higher end of the market: the large technology vendor learning portals, particularly the ones catering to the enterprise license space.
What used to be a vibrant ecosystem of training providers has been dwindling, and with the COVID-19 crisis all but obliterating any in-person sessions, some have pronounced the end of the road for training companies. Is it, though? For any that are insisting on offering the age-old basics, it may be. Computing has become so ubiquitous and consumer-oriented that most people no longer need basic training on how to use their phone, PC and word processor any more than they need it when they purchase a car, TV or fridge or use Facebook or Netflix. The most basic onboarding will do. In fact, most business-to-consumer (B2C) tools now focus on making their products (hardware and/or software) intuitive enough for users to learn on their own.
But what about the higher end of the market? Unlike the consumerization of information technology (IT), the global rush for digital transformation is making training ever more necessary. Some organizations are breaking world records training their employees with massive scale-ups. Why this difference? More importantly, how can training companies take advantage of it?
Let’s start with the three reasons organizations are scaling up enablement like never before:
1. The “What”
Time to market is now counted in days rather than months or years, which has two implications. Firstly, organizations don’t have the luxury of lengthy trial and error and need to move quickly. To enable this speed, they need training support. Secondly, and as importantly, if they don’t move rapidly, others in the market will quickly overtake their level of knowledge, putting revenue at risk. Therefore, the opportunity for training providers is to speed up training for their customers and, crucially, keep it up to speed.
2. The “How” and the “When”
The organizational requirements for training delivery have changed over the past 18 months, and they may never return to what they were before the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizations that had not yet experienced it are now familiar with the effectiveness of remote learning in any mode (on demand, instructor-led or blended).
What has become more important than the learning content form factor is how often an organization can deliver it and how well it can customize it to the needs of the organization and its entire ecosystem. For example, at the height of the pandemic, a large technology provider produced videos that organizations could churn out regularly without many bells and whistles, rather than waiting months to produce SCORM courses. The objective was rapid-fire scalability instead of a simmering approach.
3. The “Where”
Connectivity has, perhaps, become the most important feature of all. Organizations need knowledge, and they need it quickly — but they are not willing to take on any compliance risks. They don’t want outside platforms that diminish their user’s overall experience. Instead, they want to keep their users on their own enablement platforms and pull in what they need rather than pushing users outside of their organizational walls to find it.
For the most part, the old paradigm for developing and deploying training has all but expired. It is too slow and static to meet the dynamic transformations happening in the market today. Training providers will have to adapt by offering dynamic training that is scalable, continuously updated and, perhaps most importantly, connected seamlessly to the organization’s own platforms rather than the provider’s.
To do so, training companies have two options. The first is to build everything (content, platform and connectivity) in house and keep everything up to speed in a rapidly changing environment. This option is a hurdle for training providers, as many are struggling to make ends meet. The second is to plug into an ecosystems enablement network, a cloud platform whose sole purpose is to connect organizations for enablement purposes. The network provides the necessary infrastructure and native application programming interfaces (APIs) to delivery any content and process at a fraction of the time and cost. That way, the training provider can focus on creating and dynamically updating the content.
The second option not only gives training providers a more affordable solution at a greater scale (eight times the footprint, on average). Equally importantly, it also provides organizations with standardized connectivity to give their users an optimal learning experience while affording their administrators a more compliant, integrated, dynamic and visible training environment.
Ultimately, because enablement networks are more integrated into the enterprise legacy systems, the training provider will be able to establish, from the outset, a stronger relationship that translates into a larger footprint (by a potential factor of eight times). Simply said, enablement networks mean more training business, at ecosystem scale!