Coined by the Chrysler Corporation to help establish relationships between members of the supply chain, the term “extended enterprise” has since been used in various industries and sectors. Over the years, the term has matured to encompass relationships that companies develop beyond the enterprise, involving both customers and channel partners.
Partners and customers are crucial to a company’s success, so educating the extended enterprise proves to be productive and profitable for businesses that want to scale up. The revenue driven by extending training efforts beyond employees is a product of increased awareness and refined knowledge of an organization’s products, services and brand.
What Are The Benefits of Training the Extended Enterprise?
According to a 2011 study directed by University of Alabama professor Alexander E. Ellinger, supply management firms - or those that adopted the extended enterprise concept - consistently outperformed firms that did not.
But even as the extended enterprise concept makes its way into online training, a user study performed by Elearning! Magazine in 2012 found that only 53% of corporations use their learning management system (LMS) to reach channel partners and customers. This means there is still room for the corporate LMS market to expand into the extended enterprise learning space.
Editor's note - Other reading on channel partner training you may be interested in:
- Learn From These Award-Winning Channel Partner Incentive Campaigns
- Overcoming Resistance To Channel Partner Training
- A Beginner’s Guide to Building Online Channel Partner Training
As companies embrace creative solutions to drive revenue, this is an opportune time to recognize the potential benefits of the extended enterprise in the online training space. Extending learning efforts beyond employees means helping channel partners and customers gain a better understanding of your product through certifications and compliance training. Doing so can result in increased profits and lower support costs through more efficient partnerships, and even helps companies attract customers that become brand evangelists with greater lifetime values.
What Kind of Company Benefits from Extended Enterprise Learning?
Though the idea of growing your company’s training efforts beyond internal training to increase revenue may seem far-fetched, it's actually applicable to a wide range of businesses. Here are three key ingredients you can use to discern whether you're ready to train your extended enterprise:
Expertise—A company’s success can be attributed to its knowledge in the field, which is the first step to penetrating the extended enterprise space in online learning.
There are many organizations that fall under this umbrella of experts in the field. Examples of non-employee learning types are identified by Talented Learning’s John Leh as commercial organizations interested in training customers or promoting e-Commerce learning, as well as non-profit associations, public sector organizations, and academic institutions.
Content—Training, especially eLearning-based training, requires quality content. As a thought leader in your field, you and your employees can serve as subject matter experts for content creation.
For instance, you may already have excellent internal training content you can adapt to train channel partners or customers. Furthermore, you can even hire an instructional designer to help optimize these eLearning experiences.
Customers and/or Channel Partners—Like expertise and content, customers and channel partners are extensions of thriving companies. Extending training to customers and channel partners offers an opportunity for branding, knowledge sharing, and collaboration.
From a high-level perspective, expertise, customers and channel partners are attributes that prosperous organizations share, which extended enterprise learning takes to the next level. To speed that process up, organizations should carefully choose the right learning platform to fit their business’s training goals.
Choosing the Right Learning Platform
Armed with content, customers and channel partners that are hungry for learning and have a desire to be more successful, the next step is selecting the ideal learning platform to design and build extended enterprise learning.
To do so, remember that extended training is often not regulatory in nature. This supplemental underpinning means that enticing learners to take your training course must go beyond the confines of plain text content and PDFs. Make sure you choose a learning platform that enhances the learner's experience by underscoring usability on both the user and the learner's end.
Next, while you're likely creating exceptional content, you need a platform's help to make it more interactive. A meaningful learning experience requires self-paced learning options, coupled with a course builder that supports multimedia content, assessments and other engagement tools.
This way, you can begin quantifying increases in customer satisfaction by helping your customers use your product, and you'll see a high return on investment across your channel partner relationships.