E-biz : On-line lessons in the hottest business topic

HR managers looking for a cost- and time-effective method of implementing e-business skills across a company can take advantage of a suite of courses at a new on-line academy.

Using its e-learning system Futuremedia’s easycando has combined with e-business education network Ecademy to develop an entire curriculum of e-business courses, focusing on management, marketing, finance and IT. Users can take the entire 12-principal curriculum or else dip into those parts that are relevant to them.

“E-business is arguably the most topical subject for our customers today,” says Futuremedia’s CEO Mats Johansson.

“Easycando’s e-business academy will offer a class or classes to suit everyone’s needs. They’ll experience uniquely compelling training ñ on-line support from named mentors, the ability to network with others and take courses at a time and place that suits them.”

The system will suggest the right training to match an individual’s job requirements and knowledge levels.

And Futuremedia recommends that HR people take some of the training themselves.

“Everyone across a company needs to be savvy with e-business, and we believe HR professionals should take some of the courses because they must have an appreciation of what training they’re prescribing to staff,” says Futuremedia marketing manager Paul English.

“The real benefit to HR professionals will be the availability of a trusted resource for training, education and information in the e-business area, whether this be for themselves, specific managers, a business unit or enterprise-wide ñ they can determine what content is most relevant for particular job functions ñ to give individuals the targeted skills and knowledge they need in a timely and convenient way.”

Courses start at a basic level and move on to more complex areas such as security and community management. Easycando has worked with partners such as Smartforce and ReadyGo, basing its courses around Ecademy’s 12 principles of e-business, and classes include Building E-marketplaces, Communities and Collaboration and an Introduction to E-commerce. Ecademy’s existing classroom-based courses will be turned into virtual classes using tools from one of easycando’s key partners, Centra Software.

Paul English has been involved in e-learning for over four years in both the US and Europe and believes that previous on-line courses have been less concerned about content than technology. “When embarking on e-learning projects, organisations can get too caught up with developing a laundry list of technology features that often far exceed their learning requirements ñ the equivalent of getting in a Boeing 737 to go to Tesco’s,” he says.

“Who loses in that instance? Usually the learner. Our primary focus is the learner and to this end we work with subject experts like Ecademy to understand the skills and knowledge individuals need and then together we deliver a richer on-line learning experience to meet this need. We’ve got content from some of the brightest minds in the country that is both engaging and available directly.”

Open courses that any individual will be able to access through the e-business academy will start at under £100. The interactive modules from Ecademy will follow a similar pricing structure.

Virtual classroom sessions will vary according to the subject and trainer/speaker who is presenting the live session as will pricing. More information can be obtained from the ecademy web site, which will go live next month.

www.theecademy.com


Web site of the week


Good to see an HR site with a sense of humour, and OnlineHR should be praised for including a “fun” section focusing on the lighter side of the business, or as it calls it, “a little justified humour”. But there’s plenty of good, solid sensible stuff here, too with the Toolkit section offering advice and information on every area of HR (recruitment, training, appraisal, legal etc) and a useful set of partner links including Worldoftraining, Smarterwork.com, Staffpay.net for payroll matters and Thomas International for psychometric testing. The site also features an HR bookshop and sells a comprehensive set of professionally drawn up HR documents and forms at £19.99 a piece. Another useful service is a reference checker for £29.99, which requires the user to fill in an on-line form. As for the fun section, what can you say about this extract from a 1943 US Transportation magazine about tips for making women more efficient in the workforce? “Give every girl adequate rest periods… A girl has more confidence and is more efficient if she can keep her hair tidied, apply lipstick and wash her hands several times a day.”


E-vangelist: Dot coms are dead – long live dot coms!


David Taylor looks at the good and bad points of dot coms and traditional companies

story: The demise of Boo.com was the Internet equivalent of the sinking of the Titanic. However, taking a wider view across old and new companies, what are the differences between dot coms and traditional companies when it comes to attracting and rewarding and motivating staff and how can they stay ahead of the curve?

DOT COMS TRADITIONAL

Equity (diminishing Higher salaries

in importance)

Culture and personal freedom Career paths

Cutting-edge technology Formal training

Pioneers/adventure Security

DOT COMS TRADITIONAL

People know where Salary increases often they stand hard to understand

Payment on personal delivery Payments on overall company delivery

Non-financial US style praise Command and control

DOT COMS TRADITIONAL

Natural passion Natural pensions

Externally focused Internal focus ñ distanced from customers

Direct (immediate) Feeling of distance influence strategy from real decisions

 


Attracting


Dot coms: Equity (diminishing in importance), Culture and personal freedom, Cutting edge technology, Pioneers/adventure

Traditional: Higher salaries, Career paths, Formal training, Security

Equity is diminishing in importance, but culture and personal freedom are still a key attraction. HR directors must ensure this element is not lost as the business grows. Introduce a programme of cultural transformation around openness, give all staff easy access to information and ensure that ideas are put into reality, fast.


Rewarding


Dot coms; People know where they stand, Payment on personal delivery; Non-financial US style praise

Traditional: Salary increases often haard to understand, Payments on overall company delivery, Command and control

Reward people by providing them with the open and frank work environment that often differentiates dot com cultures from more traditional businesses. Better still, take advantage of the more informal environment and ask people what they want and why they work for you. You will be surprised that money will not be the only, or most important factor. Once you find out why people are staying with you, do more of the same!

There is a natural passion in many dot coms and e-commerce businesses. These companies are at the forefront of a new era. HR professionals need to be at the centre of the buzz and passion as well. Ensure HR is located in the heart of the company ñ not in some distant corner on the top floor ñ and that the profession is represented at board level.


Motivating


Dot coms: natural passon, Externally focused, Direct (immediate) influence strategy

Traditional: Natural pensions, Internal focus – distanced from customers, Feeling of distance from real decisions

Many dot coms have tended to push leadership and imagination before management and reality ñ and are living to regret it. But there does need to be a balance as such environments offer the chance for bright people to take on responsibility they would not gain in a traditional environment.

The chance to be creative and follow one’s instincts are important in a fast-moving environment. Ensure the HR team also maintains the focus on people, not paper. Admin is not the main role of the department in the new business age ñ having your fingers on the pulse of your people, is.

David Taylor is president of the association of IT directors, Certus. david.taylor@dtaltd.co.uk

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