What if we lived in a world where the services and products we purchased offered even more? What if even required purchases came with something extra that could help us work faster or more efficiently? In many respects, this is precisely what is at the heart of extended enterprise elearning.
By definition “extended enterprise” is a concept that recognizes that every company is comprised of more than its employees, board members and executives. Extended enterprise recognizes that every company is also comprised of its business partners, its suppliers and even its customers. The success of any enterprise, then, relies on all these people and component groups. This also means that all these people and components require a certain amount of information for a business to operate effectively.
To illustrate, it is helpful to think about extended enterprise learning management in relation to an entirely different field.
How Education Expands Markets
Imagine for a moment that you work in agriculture and not in sales, manufacturing, technology, health care, finance or any other sector. Now, imagine that after many years of growing a single crop—let’s say, carrots—you are faced with the need to rotate your crop. Most other crops that work in your specific environment are not ideal options because the market is either already saturated, or they can only be harvested by hand rather than machine and will thereby significantly drive up your staffing cost. There is, however, one other option—parsnips.
If you compare the market for parsnips to the market for carrots, there is no question which vegetable is the winner. Carrots can be found in everything from high-end cuisine to baby food. You can use carrots in cakes, eat them raw or cooked, and mash, blend or puree them. By contrast, for most consumers, even foodies, parsnips remain a bit of an outlier on the food spectrum. To put it bluntly, for most consumers, they are nothing but curious-looking albino carrots with a pungent taste and limited fan base. On the upside, they sell at much higher prices than carrots, but can you create a market for these unpopular veggies? If you’re serious about following through on your crop rotation plan, the answer is yes. First, you find a way to educate customers about this curious outlier of a vegetable. You start attaching recipes for roasted parsnips and mashed parsnips and parsnip chips to your produce. You also start a blog and Youtube channel to circulate your recipe ideas more widely.
You give your customers the education needed to embrace something they may otherwise never even think about buying.
Sound crazy? It’s not. In recent years, the food industry has marketed a wide range of new products as well as some well-known yet unpopular ones, and they have done it by adopting precisely this strategy. Accompanying the rise of parsnips and kale and return of a few reviled veggies (think about the recent rise in popularity of Brussels sprouts) have been a series of educational campaigns—many developed by growers and others by distributors—to help consumers expand their palates. In a nutshell, these campaigns have been successful because they have not only asked consumers to try something new but also given them the education needed to do something with otherwise unfamiliar or unwanted products. The pay back is obvious.
But enough about vegetables—how does this apply to contemporary business and what does this have to do with extended enterprise elearning?
How Extended Enterprise eLearning can Support Your Business Growth
While your product may appear entirely transparent, whether you are a supplier of CRM software or home health care products or bike accessories, it is important to recognize that your service or product may not be as transparent to your customers or other people in your supply chain (e.g., distributors) as it is to you. Indeed, your product may be as mysterious as a parsnip to some customers and people in your supply chain, and this is where extended enterprise can help.
The goal may be to simply help subscribers use your software more effectively, or your goal may be to help people in your supply chain better appreciate and talk up your services or products. Whatever the intent, however, adopting a learning management system to engage in extended enterprise learning is a certain way to guarantee that your services and products will not remain outliers.