What it means to be an organization is changing. It is no longer defined just as a rigid, hierarchical structure of employees. The ways in which we organize and work together are now much more fluid, intertwined, and porous. The advent of the gig economy and the ease of working remotely, across borders and jurisdictions, means we are becoming more loosely associated.

In 2018, it was reported that of Alphabet Google’s 170,000 workers, 50 percent were full-time employees (FTEs) and the other half were temps, vendors, and contractors (TVCs). Many modern organizations have grown rapidly by taking advantage of this new flexibility—Uber and Deliveroo arguably could not exist without it. Other sectors, such as fast food and retail brands, have built networks of partnerships, franchises, and other relationships to access new markets quickly, while balancing business risks and rewards.

At its heart, technology plays a powerful role in how we experience these new structures. Learning and orienting people around shared objectives, skills, and behaviors is more strategically important than ever before. Indeed, learning is now a critical tool for engaging with stakeholders that sit outside the normal confines of the organization itself. Contractors, resellers, partners, and even customers themselves all need orientation to build trust, confidence, and advocacy in order to achieve a successful, large-scale coordinated effort.

The business benefits of extended enterprise learning

Defining and supporting your extended enterprise ecosystem can bring significant benefits to your organization. These benefits include improved profitability, efficiency, quality assurance, and customer advocacy. With all stakeholders operating to common standards of service provision, production and delivery, and speaking with a unified brand voice, then your market presence will become demonstrably amplified.

Achieving this requires a learning and performance support solution that makes it easy for individuals to complete training to common standards, and to keep aligned and up to date with new developments in work practices, products, and services offered. This could also include regulatory obligations, which may differ depending on region and jurisdiction.

According to a 2017 Brandon Hall Group study, the top five objectives of an extended enterprise learning initiative are:

? Increased awareness of products/services (60%)

? Reduced training costs (58%)

? Improved customer relations (55%)

? Reduced training travel time (54%)

? Meeting compliance requirements (52%)

What’s next for extended enterprise learning?

Talented Learning’s John Leh, an expert in extended enterprise learning, identifies three trends to watch out for in the extended enterprise space.

  1. Firstly, personalization. It will become increasingly important to tailor learning content to learners outside the organization, such as resellers, third-party vendors, or even the general public. External learners won’t voluntarily engage with content unless it’s hyper-relevant, timely, accessible, and easy to consume—making personalization vital.
  2. Secondly, integration is becoming a crucial element of extended enterprise platforms. Historically, only large companies with hefty IT budgets could afford to develop pathways for data exchange between systems. But now, standardized application programming interfaces (APIs) make it affordable to automate data sharing and workflows across multiple systems, including the LMS, CMS, HR system, e-commerce platform, and more.
  3. The final trend to watch is analytics. With so much data available from so many new sources, extended enterprise learning leaders face a fresh challenge—how to focus on the most useful data so they can make better business decisions. Fortunately, promising new data visualization tools are emerging to help organizations more easily track and understand learning metrics in combination with sales, customer support, and other operational data.

It’s clear that extended enterprise learning platforms will become an increasingly important element of learning programs in the years to come. Is your learning platform flexible enough to cope?

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