Extended Enterprise

Inside Out – Training the Extended Enterprise

With a large percentage of the workforce working from home during the pandemic, for the first time, many organizations are discovering the challenge of training and developing people not working in the same building. And some companies have been grappling with dispersed learning audiences and learners who do not even work for the organization.

The “extended enterprise” is a complex network of customers, resellers, channel partners, franchisees and more. It can be difficult to get a handle on governance, technology and accountability issues related to extended enterprise learning. It requires a cohesive, standardized strategy and the technology to get it right.

The challenge starts at the top. Who owns the extended enterprise? Is it marketing; reaching out to customers? Is it sales; training a network of resellers? Maybe it is operations,  who oversee franchisees or distributors. This fragmentation exists because there are too many disparate priorities across these groups, and it can often make sense for them to own their slice of extended enterprise training, even if it appears to be, on the surface, a learning process.

From a technology standpoint, however, these groups do not often have insight into the features and functionality of learning solutions and how they can be leveraged for the extended enterprise. There is an opportunity here for the learning function to partner with these other functions to develop an extended enterprise technology strategy and go through a selection process.  

In Brandon Hall Group’s 2020 Extended Enterprise Study, 79% of companies said that technology was, to a medium or high degree, the main reason for the effectiveness of their extended enterprise learning. And among companies that say their efforts are effective or highly effective, two-thirds use an LMS, compared to 54% of those whose efforts are less effective.

But not all LMS solutions are equal. It isn’t just about providing access to extended enterprise learning audiences. There are other considerations. Different audiences outside the organization may need unique environments requiring white-labeling or branding configurations. There should be a mechanism for accurately tracking and measuring all learning activity since the learners do not work for the organization. Additionally, extended enterprise learning represents an opportunity for the Learning function to generate revenue by selling training. This requires e-commerce functionality, something that is not available in every LMS.

The value created by providing learning opportunities to your extended enterprise will continue to expand as remote work becomes routine, markets become more global and the use of contingent and gig workers increase.

Begin your new year by joining me for a webinar with Patrick Devlin of Meridian Knowledge Solutions as we explore the extended enterprise and how technology makes it easier to reach more learning audiences. We strongly encourage any HR/Learning professionals to invite others from their organization who may be in marketing, operations, sales, or any other function that needs to communicate and train the extended enterprise.

David Wentworth, Principal Analyst, Brandon Hall Group


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