A shake-up of providers has been predicted in the global market for managed learning because client organisations are looking for new capabilities such as ‘demand planning’ and the expertise to match the right intervention to the needs of individual learners.
Managed learning is when an outside specialist buys and administers training on behalf of a client organisation. Al Bird, Learning Consultancy Director at KnowledgePool, the UK’s leading managed learning company, claims that the initial client driver for this strategy was raw cost savings but, as the market developed, the emphasis changed to focus on improving the quality of service provided. Now, he says, the market is evolving again, as clients are looking for an even more sophisticated service.
“Today’s clients want a dedicated team of advisors who can respond to individual learners and route all of their training enquiries to the most appropriate intervention every time, whether that’s an in-house solution, an e-learning course, a coaching programme, informal learning or a best-in-class external supplier,” he said.
“The right development option may not be a training intervention at all; it could be an internal assignment or project. To deliver this level of service, managed learning providers will need to get involved in demand planning cycles and they’ll need to develop a detailed understanding of the client’s in-house delivery options.”
Demand planning involves analysing historic training activity, current training booking data and evaluation response data as well as working with the client to forecast future training needs and likely volumes.
“By combining demand planning with insightful management information, managed learning providers will be able to present improved recommendations to their clients on how they can reduce unnecessary training, cut out inefficiencies and better align their learning with the business needs,” said Al Bird.
KnowledgePool admits that its blueprint for the future of managed learning could lead to a shake-up of providers in the global market. Typically, these include business process outsourcing specialists, training brokers, vertical integration companies and hybrid providers that combine different aspects of these services.
“The way the market is moving, not every managed learning provider has the capability or the business model to survive,” said Al Bird. “Clients will increasingly want the flexibility to go to the best suppliers for whatever training they need. They won’t want to be tied or restricted to certain training companies. Any managed services provider that is part of or, or tied to, a particular training delivery provider might find it difficult to offer this level of flexibility and impartiality. As a result, they could find themselves being cut out of more and more opportunities.”