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5 Types of Non-Employee (Extended Enterprise) Learning

Non-employee Training

Extended enterprise learning is a thriving segment in the broader human capital management space.  However, the discussion and coverage of non-employee or extended enterprise learning seems to have stalled due to the last three years of acquisition frenzy in the HCM space.   Many of the large LMS providers (Plateau,, GeoLearning, Certpoint),  previously focused on extended enterprise solutions were acquired and integrated into broader HR or HCM suites.  With the natural focus of these integrated suites being on the internal employees, the lucrative and business impactful specialty of extended enterprise learning was left behind in industry commentary and advancement.

The big integrated suites (Infor, SAP, Oracle, Saba,and SumTotal) still have the e-commerce capability and the domain management to support the extended enterprise from their historical LMS products, but there has been no new development, technological advances or thought leadership in this arena.  If 95% of the suite is intended for internal employees with a centralized Chief Human Resource Officer (CHRO) purchase point, it is easy to forget  the only groups that don’t fall under that common umbrella.

It is also difficult to have a meaningful conversation with the non-employee learning group if you don’t know anything about extended enterprise learning nor marketing.   As a result, a high percentage of 2014 extended enterprise learning initiatives are deployed as a stand alone in the Cloud and separate from internal LMS or Talent systems.Many of the non-acquired LMS companies (Net Dimensions, eLogic Learning and Expertus) and hundreds of start ups have tried to fill the void and still cater to different segments of the extended enterprise industry.

There are at least five different types of non-employee training although it could be argued there are more or less, but since this is our blog, five it is. Each of the below types have similar yet very unique sets of technical, integration, scalability, financial, service, content and functionality requirements.

  • Commercial Organizations:  Larger for-profit companies in technology, manufacturing, healthcare, financial, insurance, automotive, retail, franchise and many other industries have the need to train their extended channel and customers.   For these companies, training their channel and customers supports their primary business but is not their primary business.   Reductions in the time to certify the channel on a new product by days or weeks translates to millions of dollars of accelerated sales and a better educated channel sells your product better and more often.  Both scenarios and many more are easily measured.
  • e-Commerce Learning:  There are many organizations who are specialists in a topic, create content and certifications and sell in a variety of media forms from mobile apps, to e-Learning, virtual webinars, electronic files and live events in a e-Commerce LMS.  The e-Commerce content providers use the LMS solution to attract customers and build an audience that keeps coming back.  Very often these content providers have customers that are both organizational and individual users mandating robust and configurable e-Commerce and audience management features.  In this group, the sale of learning is their primary business.  As an example, an expert in pest control (or insurance, sailing, auto glass replacement, etc), could create courses, programs, tools and market them directly as continuing education or profession development of the pest control industry.  There are many low cost entry LMS solutions making the barrier to entry low.
  • Associations and Member Based Organizations:  Member based organizations have been adopting learning management technology in droves over the last few years.  For over a hundred years, associations generated the lion share of their revenue with annual membership fees as well as driving trade show attendance.  Over the last five years, associations have tapped the huge revenue well of certification, re-certification and content revenue that far eclipses traditional membership dues.  Associations have unique requirements such as integration into association management systems (AMS), sophisticated certification & accreditation requirements as well as deep e-commerce requirements.  Organizations as diverse as the Red Cross, Society of Actuaries, the Project Management Institute and thousand of other associations all provide LMS, e-Learning content in someway to their members or volunteers.
  • Public Organizations:  Public agencies from the largest global to the smallest local, encounter the need to educate their constituents. Sometimes the content is provided as a paid service, but most often it is a service provided as a tax-funded service to the community.  Public organizations at every level have stringent purchasing, IT, legal, integration and support requirements lending to a smaller subset of vendors with the needed expertise to support them.  Some examples of public extended enterprise include the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare who trains insurance providers and medical service providers nationally on how to submit claims or the FBI providing law enforcement education to local and state police organizations.
  • Academic Organizations:  Higher Education institutions utilize LMS solutions to monitor scheduling, registration, student-teacher interaction, class management, grading, and degree management.  From the University of Phoenix to your local community college, there are few students in America not actively engaged with some type of Academic LMS.  Requirements for this group tend to be the most specific requiring vendor specialists.

We will be providing more information, research, case studies and news on each above type of extended enterprise training in upcoming posts.

Thanks for reading!


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John Leh
About John Leh (98 Articles)
John Leh is CEO and Lead Analyst at Talented Learning, LLC. John is an LMS selection consultant and eLearning industry blogger focused on helping organizations plan and implement technology strategies that support extended enterprise learning. John has almost 20 years of experience in the LMS industry, having served as a trusted adviser to more than 100 learning organizations with a total technology spend of more than $50 million. John helps organizations define their business case, identify requirements, short list vendors, write and manage the RFP and negotiate a great deal. You can connect with John on Twitter (@JohnLeh) or LinkedIn.

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