Four Most Common Applications for E-Learning
For those of you who have worked with me, you know much of my dissertation research connects organizational learning and competitive advantage. Couple this with the multiple discussions had with entrepreneurs, business leaders, and executives about the Chairman’s Academy launch and the benefits of e-learning, and one could definitely say that I have a comprehensive appreciation for why and how companies learn.
The most common question I get is from the executive team, asking “how does my competitor use e-learning?”
My inner monologue always says that if you have to ask, you’re probably trailing the competition in more ways than e-learning and training (but kudos for asking).
My actual answer depends on the size, industry, and business model of the company. But, here are a couple boiled down, generalized applications. My hope for those reading this blog is that you pat yourself on the back for those use cases that look familiar to you, and you get together a plan to implement those you are not currently including in your e-learning strategy.
Here are the four most common uses for e-learning:
1 Onboarding and basic HR compliance. Stated differently, companies digitize the onboarding process to make sure that new employees understand the content that is asked to read and abide by during their time with the new firm. Yes, it is easy to drill into a few key areas of the employee handbook or HR sensitivity training with assessment tools built into e-learning applications and make sure the employee reads and understands the content. This helps to keep the onboarding process smooth and retention high.
I borrowed these facts from Christine Marino from Click Boarding. She composed an interesting blog post on the value of properly onboarding employees, and conversely, the cost of playing this by ear and allowing a poor or inconsistent process to impact an employee’s introduction to your culture. Just look at the facts Christine uncovered and considered how e-learning could streamline your onboarding strategy and help you manage the reality in her data points:
- 69% of employees are more likely to stay with a company for three years if they experienced great onboarding;
- Up to 20% of employee turnover happens in the first 45 days;
- New employees who went through a structured onboarding program were 58% more likely to be with the organization after three years;
- Organizations with a standard onboarding process experience 50% greater new hire retention;
- The average cost of replacing an employee is between 16 and 20% of that employee’s salary;
- The organizational costs of employee turnover are estimated to range between 100% and 300% of the replaced employee’s salary;
- Nearly 33% of new hires look for a new job within their first six months on the job;
- 23% of new hires turnover before their first anniversary.
2 Sales Optimization for Channels and Distributors. For those organizations that rely on a go-to-market strategy that includes the end mile with customers handled by distributorships and channel partners, you must employ some communication and e-learning initiative to help those resources sell your product and service like you would sell. Don’t get me wrong; it is often smart and efficient to use a channel for distribution. The trouble is you are then one of many possible many products and services and the people talking to your clients may not know or understand how to represent your unique offering. Market leaders in this space create training and incentive programs to optimize the understanding and effectiveness of their channel.
3 Firm-Specific Training. If your firm’s competitive strategy is differentiation (remember Porter’s Generic Strategies Model? Competitive Advantage gained from cost leadership, differentiation, or focus). Assuming you’re not a focused, boutique shop or a cost leader like Walmart, you are probably competing based on differentiation. E-learning provides a platform to train employees on the unique aspects of products and services. The assessment tools embedded in e-learning applications allow the firm to appreciate the competency level of each employee on each topic. As a result, customer service representative, salespeople, and other customer facing resources can all be easily trained and educated on how to communicate the value of your product.
4 Selling Information and Knowledge Content. Today knowledge and information (when reliable) is valuable. Thousands of businesses are competing today to position their information as the missing link to an ineffective or slow moving business opportunity. Today Executive Coaches, Authors, Infopreneurs, and other knowledge curators make millions in profits from positioning themselves as problem solvers and thought leaders. This business model can fall into a state of anemia if face to face interactions are necessary every time a client pays for the knowledge exchange. E-learning platforms that are customized with e-commerce options can be the perfect, secure environment for this learning exchange.
Of course, there are some incredible, truly unique use cases for e-learning in the marketplace. Smart, forward-thinking companies use e-learning to increase the effectiveness of the following functions:
- Product/Service enhancements
- Brand evolution and equity
- Product launches
- Company culture
- Employee wellness and wellbeing
The key is to first use e-learning to communicate knowledge in a smart and consistent manner. If you are not using e-learning at all, consider the inefficiency in your organization. You may want to rethink… certainly, your competition is using e-learning to get and stay ahead. Keep this stat in mind:
The online corporate market is expected to grow by 13% per year up to 2017. Today, 77% of USA companies offer online corporate training to improve the professional development of their employees (source)
Are you ok being in the last twenty-something percent to use smart technology to train and enhance your best asset, your people?
By: Bridgette Chambers