Today, we are going to look at a practical aspect of a company’s digital transformation: technology.
Based on the guide, I have identified the major technological trends that are transforming how companies operate and their relations with their customers. I have then tried to apply these recommended practices for startups to training organizations. The aim is to help you to select and apply the appropriate tools for your business.
The key technological innovations
The 21st century is characterized by the emergence of 3 major technological revolutions:
- increased computer processing speed,
- the arrival of the Internet,
- the emergence of smartphones.
These three aspects have contributed to changes in habits, creating more agile and collaborative software. In large companies, the challenge has been to evolve information systems departments to enable them to keep up with and integrate these new practices.
While the technical side of things may be less critical for a training company, the challenge is to select tools that are really useful and guarantee a good return on investment.
SaaS, the future of business software
SaaS (Software as a Service) is based on a very different structure and business model to traditional software. Using SaaS does not require the purchase of a one-off licence but of a right of use in the form of a monthly or annual subscription. Most SaaS is priced according to the number of users and chosen functionalities. You only therefore pay for your actual use of the software! In practice, this implies a number of changes to the structure of the software. To ensure flexible use suitable for all users, SaaS software is accessible directly from a web browser. It can therefore be used immediately, without any installation.
What are the benefits for a training company in using SaaS? Apart from the price, SaaS also enables you to benefit from a more stable and secure tool developed by professionals. You are guaranteed up-to-date software suited to your business. The pooling of servers also results in faster processing time. What are the risks of using SaaS? The two most common criticisms concern data security, as data is hosted on offshore servers, and the risk of interrupted service in the event of a failure. In reality, neither risk is specific to SaaS. In addition, it is important to inform yourself about the hosting infrastructure used and data protection, regardless of the option you choose!
What software should a training company use? There are a lot to choose from! Here are a few examples of SaaS dedicated to training:
- Administrative management software: designed to simplify the management of your business.
- E-learning software: there is a lot of SaaS out there dedicated to e-learning! From simply hosting your courses to the creation of dynamic and engaging presentations… anything is possible!
- Quiz software: to liven up your training courses and gather your trainees’ feedback and impressions of the course.
- CRM software: ‘Customer Relationship Management’ software dedicated to managing your relationships with your clients. This will help you to organize your prospect files, keep track of exchanges and ultimately conclude deals!
- Collaboration software: to simplify team work and facilitate collaboration with partners.
Of course, some SaaS can include several of the above functionalities in the same software.
You can therefore manage your training from an administrative point of view and plan your e-leaning content on the same platform. If you can’t find all the functionalities you need in a single application, APIs will still enable you to save time by automating the dialogue between two different apps!
API: to interconnect different software programs
An API (Application Programming Interface) is a tool that connects two (or more) software programs. In concrete terms, it is a small piece of code that enables applications to exchange data and automate certain processes. For a training company, for example, an API could automatically enter registrations completed on a website into a customer file!
APIs represent another step forward in the customization of business software. As a result, is now possible to connect your different SaaS applications in a joined up manner. This enables you to save both time and money, as instead of developing a single solution tailored to your business, you can select the best solutions on the market and link them all up.
For a training company, using APIs is a way of customizing how you use business software and adapting it to your business, at minimum cost. Be careful, however, when you connect several programs: APIs are very sensitive to updates. As a tool, therefore, APIs required regular maintenance!
Connected objects: rethinking the client experience
The third innovative tool useful for the digital transformation of training companies is connected objects. Connected objects have been on the rise for a few years now and combine two innovations: the arrival of smartphones, usable as universal remote controllers, and the shrinking of processors, now making it possible to connect any device to the Internet. Hence, you can now find connected homes, connected cars, etc., as well as connected classrooms!
The potential power of connected objects is still not properly understood. Although using them requires a certain inclination for technology (and also poses questions regarding security), a number of applications already exist in the field of teaching and education!
For training companies, connected objects improve the training experience while collecting data about the quality of the course. This makes it possible to improve the course content and materials and reinforce your sales arguments. Among the most common connected objects in the training world are interactive whiteboards, quiz boxes and VR (virtual reality) headsets for immersive simulations.
How to prepare your technological transition?
We have seen that special tools exist for training companies and that hundreds of combinations are possible for adaptation to your particular business. You still need to understand how to integrate these new practices into your company! To do this, the Digital Transformation Guide proposes a few methods.
Drawing inspiration from startups: the agile method
As we have seen, startups are not afraid of innovation. On the contrary, they swiftly implement new processes and tools, as their business depends on their ability to adapt to their market. To do this, two key factors enable them to stand out.
First, the famous ‘agile method’. Rather than spending time on creating a comprehensive but complex solution, startups tend to launch a basic form of the solution straight away, from the outset, and then develop it as they become more skilled in the field. In the case of training companies, this means not necessarily waiting to find the best possible solution before commencing! On the contrary, list and prioritize your needs then give yourself time to test the software program or equipment. Sometimes, a functionality you thought was essential is actually only secondary, while a need you hadn’t identified at the outset emerges as key!
The second factor specific to the startup culture is the famous ‘logic of experimentation’. Rather than dramatizing failure and trying to get everything right the first time, be prepared to test things out, even if it means losing a bit of money at the start, like taking out a subscription for SaaS for a month, for example. This option is preferable to spending money on a tailored software program not particularly suited to your needs.
Draw inspiration from multinational groups: open innovation
Startups are not the only ones to innovate! Large groups also use their influence to prepare their digital transformation. At the heart of their strategy is ‘open innovation’, i.e. seeking innovation in places other than in R&D laboratories. Hence, they may engage in ‘crowdsourcing’ by encouraging users to write to them, ‘internal innovation competitions’ allowing their employees to propose innovative solutions and ‘hackathons’ to give anyone the chance to innovate using their technology or solutions.
It is, of course, more difficult for a training company to set up this kind of approach, which requires a significant budget. Nothing prevents you from searching further afield for ideas, however! Invite your team and your clients to take part in collaborative workshops, take part in public innovation events (like Startup Weekends) or set aside time for brainstorming new ideas (an entire day to work on a particular subject, for example).
Technology is complex subject and it is difficult to cover all aspects in a single article. In the end, just remember that it is now possible to find effective, customized tools at a reasonable price. On the other hand, this requires some careful thought about your needs and your ability to implement these tools!
The next chapter of the book will look in more detail at the role of technology in digital transformation and in particular at data.
👉 Find the other articles of the digital transformation guide for training organizations: