EPISODE 52: TRAINING AUTOMATION
I’m sure many of you are familiar with today’s guest, but you may not be aware of his most recent venture. Over the years, Rich Bartlett has made a huge impact on the learning systems industry as Co-Founder and CEO of CD2 Learning. Now, he is moving to a whole new level by leveraging workflow management capabilities for training automation.
This is significant because, only 10 years ago, organizations that wanted to support diverse internal and external learning audiences through a single system had to invest a million dollars or more to make it work. But through training automation, C2D is reducing the cost of these sophisticated learning solutions and opening the door for small and medium-sized business clients.
Join me as I talk with Rich about this unique methodology and its benefits for learning organizations.
TRAINING AUTOMATION – KEY TAKEAWAYS
- CD2 Learning is not just an LMS vendor. It’s also a technology systems consultancy that uses its own experience in building training businesses to help other learning providers succeed. This unique perspective is shaping CD2’s next-stage business strategy.
- For nearly two years, CD2 has leveraged its expertise in defining and building onboarding workflows to help its clients embrace training automation.
- Typically, the broader your reach, the more complex and costly it is to scale sophisticated internal/external learning solutions. But training automation can dramatically reduce the cost and complexity by leveraging common content to serve diverse audiences.
TRAINING AUTOMATION – Q&A HIGHLIGHTS
Why don’t we start with a bit of history about CD2 Learning?
Sure. In 1997 my wife and I founded an online nursing education company called ATI Testing, which leveraged early-stage SaaS technology to train about 3 million nurses around the world. Then in 2008, we sold that company because we felt called to philanthropy.
So we rewrote a lot of the code in the SaaS piece of the LMS and founded Catholic Faith Technologies to help kids engage in relevant faith-oriented education through online and mobile learning experiences.
And when did CD2 Learning come in?
Well, next in 2008, we morphed that SaaS LMS into a complete, cloud-based learning platform to serve corporate clients through CD2 Learning. Now, our roster includes about 25 very large organizations. These are recognized public companies, and we’re fortunate to serve them.
But actually, we specialize in the small-to-medium-sized business market, which we define as organizations with 500-5,000 employees. And we serve hundreds of these SMBs.
Overall, we’re in 150 countries across those three sectors – faith-based organizations, large corporations, and SMBs – including those who just want to leverage our LMS so they can do it themselves.
And now you have an even bigger mission?
We do. During the COVID outbreak, when kids weren’t able to attend church or private schools, the faith-based education side of our company nearly tripled in size.
So now, through Nelnet Community Engagement, we’re helping faith-based organizations grow. The Nelnet parent company is known for higher education loan processing, but now they’re going after the education technology market space. They want to expand their offerings while staying in their niche. So we’re helping with that aspect.
So CD2 Learning is still the brand?
Yes. In the corporate learning space CD2 is its own brand. And while we do serve large companies, we really focus on small-to-medium-sized businesses. But we’re not just a platform provider. We’re also a technology partner.
I say “partner” because we actually interview our clients as much as they interview us. That may sound crazy, but we want to make sure we are the right fit.
There are over 600 LMSs in the world today. So if we’re not the right choice, we have no problem helping a prospect understand that and helping them vet other systems. In fact, John, I send a lot of folks in your direction to help them find what they really need.
We want to be a true technology partner. We want to help organizations scale training. We want to help them embrace training automation by leveraging onboarding and other workflows.
So, because you’ve created multiple instructional content businesses, you reuse that technology to help other small businesses essentially do the same thing?
Sure. Say a client wants to put a certification process in place. As a technology partner, we want them to have the best possible results. And our training automation history helps us.
That’s because we can provide the full spectrum, from just a standalone LMS, to an LMS with an embedded content management system to house learning assets. Or we can handle all the workflows needed to support extended enterprise requirements.
So, what are SMBs looking for in a learning solution?
Often, they don’t know what problem they’re trying to solve. As a consultative technology partner, that’s what we help them solve.
Employee training makes up about 60% of our customer base, while extended enterprise adds another 40%. Many of our clients initially focus on staff training, but when we start looking at what they’re really trying to achieve, we find that many are looking for a next-level process.
We usually see them start by migrating something like sales training or leadership training. Or maybe it’s internal ops training to satisfy some certifications.
Once we help them achieve that goal, we can land and expand pretty fast.
In SMBs, I see many scenarios where customers are more important than employees. What are you seeing?
That would be accurate five years ago. Today, it’s much more transactional. It’s really tough to recruit and hire now. And employees are as sophisticated as ever, so employers have to support that. It’s not just about what an employee can do for a company, but also what the company can do to help employees along in their education path and career growth.
So that’s why we work with employers to unpack questions like, “What does training mean to your organization? What is the culture around your training? What is your content strategy?”
In the past, organizations were simply looking for an LMS. Now, training is a direct reflection of the organization, for employees as well as clients. Training represents the professionalism of an organization and its brand.
For instance, with sales training, it’s not just about preparing your internal team to market new products. You may also be pushing it out to resellers. To serve clients effectively, those resellers need to know as much as your own sales organization about the product they’re selling – if not more.
That’s where the extended enterprise piece usually comes into play.
Sometimes they monetize it. Sometimes the dealer network runs through our e-commerce system and they actually pay for the content. This way, training becomes budget-neutral for the company, rather than an expense.
Makes sense. So let’s talk about that in more detail. You’ve built a better mousetrap for training automation. How is that different from a training path?
To us, a workflow is more of an onboarding process. So, say you have collaborative assignments or activities involving more than one person. For example, a manager is responsible for a new employee who needs to complete a series of tasks at various touchpoints in a workflow.
Can you illustrate this workflow capability you’ve built? How is this kind of training automation different from a training path?
Sure. Think of something like new hiring training that begins with the introduction to a task.
Let’s say new-hire assignment documents need to be uploaded within the system. A manager and an HR contact need to review this within the HR system. Or it needs to be transferred through an API before the new employee receives it.
So that workflow task requires some collaboration. In other words, the manager can provide feedback like, “Hey, this looks great, but can you add a few things here?”
Or here’s a sales training scenario. Let’s say a sales representative uploads a video of a “pitch” for a manager to review. We need to support the collaboration aspect of that activity.
So think of that process as a workflow, where information moves back and forth within the system. So this is not just static training.
Say the manager asks for a meeting about this. They can schedule meetings inside of that task. So collaboration is taking place within a specific workflow process.
For example, the manager may say, “Hey, we should check in about this next Wednesday. I’d love to have, X, Y, and Z video segments of this pitch completed by then, so we can review and discuss it.” Or, “After step 1 is complete, I’d like documents A, B and C transmitted so they can be backloaded within the system.”
So, this is what we should expect from your training automation solution?
Yes. It’s a system of record, as well as a workflow process. The communication channels across different roles – from email messages, to texts, to system notifications that track the status of that process – it’s all there in a robust reporting-type view.
That means dashboards are easy to integrate. It also means individuals, upline managers, HR or corporate leaders can make data-driven decisions based on internal workflows. Or in an extended enterprise context, it can involve customer-focused decisions.
Wow. Great stuff.
That’s a lot to digest about workflows. But it’s a model that can be leveraged for many different scenarios. Most folks think of it as an onboarding process. But in our consultative role as a technology partner, we work with clients on these workflows to reduce friction in these business processes, so they can upskill employees, resellers and others more efficiently and effectively.
So, if an organization hasn’t yet tried workflow automation – or even training automation – what would you say their first step should be?…
…FOR COMPLETE ANSWERS TO THIS AND MORE QUESTIONS ABOUT TRAINING AUTOMATION, LISTEN TO THE FULL 30-MINUTE PODCAST!