Today, forward-thinking organizations are finding a fertile area for new growth in effectively reaching out to their extended network of customers, partners and members to develop new profit centers, increase sales, cut support costs and boost channel productivity. Key to driving value from your “extended enterprise” is taking advantage of learning and social media technology solutions to engage, educate and certify your customers and partners.
For years, organizations have leveraged the power of learning technologies to increase knowledge and skills and to improve the performance of their internal workforce. Increasingly, similar tools are being turned to the outside and are finding new uses and new audiences.
It’s more than just delivering product training and information. It’s about enablement and breaking down old walls.
Building “smart” networks to reach extended enterprise stakeholders can facilitate top-line revenue and bottom-line results, as well as a competitive advantage. In terms of revenue growth, extended enterprise technology can ensure that products and services are sold and adopted effectively.
Not only can this establish a “training as a profit center” business model, but it can help offset the costs of integrated talent management technology. Extended enterprise technology can also reduce costs, as educated clients require less support, and educated business partners can reduce time to productivity.
Offering technology support to the extended enterprise addresses many significant business challenges, including:
Product knowledge: Increase knowledge of your products and services in the marketplace and monitor your customers’ knowledge and aptitude.
Partner incentives: Motivate partners/resellers to move your products and services.
Brand loyalty: Build closer relationships with your customers to drive repeat sales and ensure that your partners are savvy ambassadors of your
brand in the marketplace. Stakeholders throughout the extended enterprise who believe that they understand your product or service are
more likely to articulate its value accurately and passionately.
Compliance and risk: Mitigate risks by, for example, following standard operating procedures within a franchise, managing large, globally
distributed reseller networks consistently or maintaining complex channel strategies.
Visibility and metrics: Correlate investments in training to business results and increase insight into the extended enterprise.
Best Practices for Enabling Your Extended Enterprise If you are considering implementing extended enterprise technology in your organization, keep these best practices in mind:
Develop a single point of access for global needs. A single access point allows you to leverage the full value of learning technology and content
you already have in place. You can increase quality and consistency between aligning internal and external learning initiatives. You can
also gain insight into the needs of customers and partners by monitoring user-generated content, such as discussion boards.
Use e-commerce to support cost recovery or to drive profit.
You may have acquired learning technologies and developed relevant content for your employees, but rolling these out to external audiences can make these cost-neutral or even profit centers for the organization. For example, tech companies generally earn 6 to 10 percent of total revenue from
Developing learning as a revenue driver can also help offset the costs for integrated talent management that are currently incurred by HR.
Leverage the power of SaaS. Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions allow you to access extended enterprise technologies through any Web browser, which eliminates hardware and IT maintenance costs, makes upgrades seamless and allows access from any location with a computer and
Internet access. Costs are far lower than for technology hosted on your own servers, and security is just as stringent. Track successes and fine-tune with thorough, centralized reporting.
With the proper analytics and dashboards set up to monitor usage, you can see how users actually prefer to learn, which enables you to provide more
effort and resources in these areas.
Establish social networking functionality thecore. A sensible social media technology strategy can also help power success of extended enterprise initiatives. Because people have become more comfortable with Web 2.0 technologies, they have come to expect a greater ability to collaborate and interact with online communities to gain knowledge.
= Cheers =