Today’s learning ecosystem is expanding. Whereas ten to fifteen years ago the vast majority of our training solutions were web-based courses built with common HTML-type languages, Flash, or the major authoring tools, today’s modern learning solutions have the potential to take many shapes, blended and uniquely crafted for the business problem they propose to solve and the people that they support. In the past, there was a proliferation of providers capable of producing these web-based solutions, but that’s no longer adequate to serve the market.
Fast forward to today.
The technical advancements of the last decade offer exciting new ways to deliver content and create truly innovative solutions: social networking, search engines, portals, data analytics, xAPI protocols, advanced mobile, augmented and virtual reality, and the list gets more and more interesting.
The simultaneous advancement of instructional techniques has opened the door to alternative approaches to building effective and engaging learning experiences: micro, adaptive, games and gamification, learning paths, advanced performance support, and even artificial intelligence. All terribly important to address today’s workplace and (in the words of so many thought leaders in our industry), finally get it right.
Download my Learning Ecosystem Map for an illustration of these technologies and techniques and the relationships between them.
Here’s the problem.
There is not a single company who can provide all these capabilities, and do so at the highest level of proficiency. Many companies dabble in several, but each has their strong suit. This puts the customer in an unenviable position of using multiple providers to get the full solutions they seek. I recall one case when a massive technology company was about to execute their largest software release in their history. They had more than 85,000 sales reps across 32 roles that needed to be educated prior to the launch. They needed a solution that was both instructionally and technically sophisticated; it needed to adapt to the role of the learner. The solution required two vendors to work together: one to build the technology and one to build the content. After eight months the project was on the verge of failure because the providers could not consistently align. The company had to seek an emergency solution. My team was fortunate to be that solution, but that’s a story for another day.
This highlights the problem. Not only does a customer need to choose multiple providers, but then they have to manage them and hope that they can all work together. The use of disparate providers is wrought with risk if these providers are not aligned strategically.
This mandates Alliances.
An Alliance is a strategic partnership between multiple providers. This is not a referral agreement, resale agreement, or even a traditional partnership arrangement. A strategic Alliance is multiple companies aligning themselves at the executive level, at all points across the sales cycle, and the systematic alignment of their resources. It requires trust, rules of engagement, incentive programs, bulletproof revenue share models, and a clear definition of the complement of the capabilities. Did I mention Trust? It also requires that the companies genuinely “like each other.” Failure in any of these requirements generates behaviors that prevent the solidarity needed to make the Alliance thrive.
The value for the customer is a one-stop-shop for complete solutions.
It means that the conversation can start with the problem that needs to be solved, knowing that the full armament of talent is on hand to produce any solution you could dream up. It means one account manager and one core team that work in concert. This is the future; the way the industry will be forced to move. It would be highly ineffective, inefficient, and improbable for any service provider to attempt to gear up and build the mastery across the full ecosystem, but with the right Alliance they can build their capabilities by aggregating providers who specialize, research and test, and have proven success with the capabilities the customer needs.
Look me up to learn more about our success establishing our eLearning Alliance, perhaps the first alliance to span the entirety of the ecosystem, and its benefits. If you missed my recent webinar about the eLearning ecosystem, take a look at the recap.