Training Of External Teams Goes Mainstream
By Catherine Upton And Jerry Roche
If you use software like salesforce.com, or bank online, you have probably used their online training. Delivering this type of training to an organization’s extended enterprise is commonplace for most organizations. In 2014, almost half of learning organizations now deploy extended enterprise training (EET) according to Elearning! magazine’s recent E-learning User Study.
EET is the delivery of training, certification programs and knowledge assets not only to employees but also to customers, partners, suppliers, channel and distributor networks, franchisers and franchisees, association members, independent agents, contractors and volunteers — in short, any stakeholder who does not work directly for the organization.
EET initiatives are recognized by many companies as being integral to customer satisfaction. For some companies, the extended enterprise is the face of the organization. For others, product development or distribution is the only way a client might measure the quality of the supplier-user relationship.
Extended Enterprise Training Usage
Almost half of organizations, (45.7 percent) surveyed by this publication had an extended enterprise training initiative in place. Of these organizations, 77.9 percent were focused on the customer community while 64.2 percent are focusing on supply chain and affiliate channels. And 37.4 percent indicated that their extended enterprise initiatives were critical and a top priority for them.
Extended enterprise training is widely adopted by both the corporate and public sectors. Heavy corporate users — health care/pharma, financial services/banking/real estate, manufacturing and software/ Web/development — account for approxi- mately 40 percent of deployments. Educa- tion (schools/colleges), non-profits and government are heavy users in the public sector, accounting for 45 percent of deploy- ments. Organizations of all sizes deploy EET, with 41 percent having fewer than 1,000 employees.
To deploy EET, the various technology elements needed — including a learning management system (LMS), online courseware and e-commerce — are integrated. Given the focus on customers, many organizations leverage community and social networks to engage with customers. About 40 percent use an on-demand LMS, where training can easily be developed and delivered to external audiences. The software- as-a-service (SaaS) model only requires users to have Internet access to complete their training, providing a very flexible and scalable solution. However, 43.5 percent of organizations use an enterprise LMS hosted behind the firewall.
EET platforms can be simple or robust depending upon the capabilities, accessibility and content delivery modes preferred. In the E-learning User Study, more than 35 percent of EET systems offer video, mobile learning, collaboration and multiple content libraries to their customers, supply chain and affiliates.
Benefits Of Eet
>> Stimulate customer success by promoting best practices so customers get maximum value for products and services
>> Increase sales, especially among well-trained customers
>> Decrease customer questions about a product or products
>> Increase customer satisfaction and loyalty by building engagement and investment in products
>> Strengthen the organization by certifying its partners, vendors and clients, thereby increasing efficiency and recognition
>> Potentially increase revenue by actually selling existing courses and certification programs
>> Provide another profit center by adding e-commerce to the list of an organization’s capabilities
>> Track all financial data and integrate it into your financial system via accurate measurement
>> Reduce training costs for everyone involved while accelerating time to market
>> Display available content in an online catalog without requiring the user to log in
When hosting an EET initiative, it is important to note three key lessons.
1. Listen to customers: Significant emphasis must be placed on adequately understanding customers’ needs and building solutions that satisfy those requirements. Customer training may need to address a diverse audience, so it must be designed with customer input to optimize revenue and value.
2. Keep it simple: From the LMS user interface to the ease of on-demand system delivery, organizations should make it simple for customers to access the training.
3. Focus on flexibility and scalability: As an EET program grows and expands, needs will change. So think ahead. For example, working with experienced vendors that has experience in delivering EET domestically and globally will have the ability to guide your organization through e-commerce challenges related to languages, currencies and international taxes.
Extended enterprise learning can both increase the bottom line and raise customer satisfaction. An educated value chain is better prepared to support a company in developing, building and delivering a product, and in offering and supporting the product to the end customer. And, in today’s competitive environment, training programs shouldn’t stop with a company’s internal workforce. Whether the goal is to build a new profit center from existing training programs or drive partner effectiveness in selling products, an organization needs the right technology, content and supporting services.