The Future of CRM: Enterprise E-learning

Training is dead. The old concept of shuttling employees into classrooms to feed them information on a product or train them on a new software program has been bypassed by technology. Instead, said David Park, an analyst with The Delphi Group in Boston, organizations will shift to an enterprise e-learning model, in which learning tools are integrated into knowledge management systems and value chains and delivered into bidirectional portals, sharing information with employees, suppliers and customers as they need it. In a new report on enterprise e-learning, Park predicts e-learning will become an integral component of CRM within the next 18 months to two years.

Think about it. The concept of traditional training is just in case – vast quantities of information are fed to employees on a preset schedule just in case they’ll ever need it. In contrast, enterprise e-learning is built on a just-in-time model where those who touch a company can learn a skill or study a new product right when they need that information. “We’re so inundated with knowledge these days we just have too much information to digest,” says Park. “With enterprise e-learning, when we need it, we’ve got it.”

An employee in a manufacturing company arriving at a process with which he is unfamiliar, for instance, could simply tap into the system and retrieve the information he needs in the context of where he is in the manufacturing process. “You, as a student, determine the agenda and pull the information,” says Park. Or consider how Sony is educating customers about AIBO, an electronic dog. Customers can go online to learn what the product is, how it works and get a demo of it. “You’re extending knowledge to clients,” Park explains. “Through that same channel you can get feedback from the market.”

Companies are just now starting to get it. “So far, we’ve just seen pieces [of enterprise e-learning] with custom and off-the-shelf content, but we haven’t seen it integrated into a knowledge management system and delivered into a bidirectional portal.” Still, the predicted rewards for those who complete the whole picture are promising. Companies that shift to enterprise e-learning, says Park, will move faster, innovate more quickly and do a better job of educating and retaining customers.