In the 2020 State of Education report from TSIA, the number one objective for customer training is product adoption. This reflects the increasing shift to a X-as-a-Service (XaaS) model, in which product adoption is critical for customer retention and expansion. Matt Piddington, Director, Services, looks at the five key trends driving education services in 2020 and the learning strategies that partners need to drive adoption and customer success.

1. New routes

Over 85% of the time a product is sold, training is not included in the sale. If the name of the game is to drive product adoption, then landing education in as many customer accounts as possible is the objective. Clearly, at 15% attach rate, the product sales team is a sub-optimal route to market.

Attaching with support and/or professional services is a good way to expand routes to market and increase adoption as the attach rates for support contracts and implementation services are higher than for education. Consider bundling training with solutions at the point of sale such as part of a premium support contract.

The Future of Jobs Survey 2020 from the World Economic Forum highlights how the skills shortage is hindering the ability of global companies to harness the growth potential of new technological adoption. It also reveals how the skills gaps in the local labour market and an inability to attract the right talent remain among the leading barriers to the adoption of new technologies. In the absence of ready talent, employers surveyed report that, on average, they provide access to reskilling and upskilling to 62% of their workforce, and that by 2025 they will expand that provision to a further 11% of their workforce.

2. Driving the consumption of training

Education providers must get customers to consume their training. Simply placing content in front of them is not enough, so driving content consumption is a key capability for 2021.

A key component of a consumption strategy is prompting learners to consume their training through auto notifications, consumption reports and new training content alerts. At Westcon-Comstor, we help users manage and utilise their vendor learning credits, and ensure they keep up to date with the vendor education programmes and certification paths.

This is reiterated by the World Economic Forum, who suggest employee engagement with courses to support reskilling and upskilling their existing workforce is lagging, with only 42% of employees taking up employer-supported reskilling and upskilling opportunities.

So driving product adoption and customer retention begins with driving the consumption of education. Data shows a high correlation between trained customers and higher product subscription renewal rates versus untrained customers.

3. Instructor-led vs e-learning

Although on demand e-learning has increased, the demand for instructor-led training (ILT) is not declining. In a recent TSIA Quick Poll of education providers, 50% of respondents said that more public training classes had been delivered in 2019 than the previous year.

There are clear benefits for ILT, including customer engagement. Users need to be engaged throughout their learning, and for students who want more depth and personalisation than e-learning can provide, ILT fits the bill. All the courses at Westcon-Comstor are now virtual, instructor led and available in five local languages – removing the traditional challenges of geographical restrictions.

According to the World Economic Forum, data from online learning platform Coursera for April, May and June 2020 signals a substantial expansion in the use of online learning. In fact, there has been a four-fold increase in the number of individuals seeking out opportunities for learning online through their own initiative, a five-fold increase in employer provision of online learning opportunities to their workers and a nine-fold enrolment increase for learners accessing online learning through government programmes.

4. Subscriptions strategies

The beauty of a training subscription is that it enables continuous learning, which helps to drive continuous engagement and helps foster ongoing product adoption. But learning subscription revenues are declining year on year, reflecting a common experience with XaaS models, largely the result of a lack of effective renewals strategies.

Subscriptions do not renew themselves, and partners need to build a strong subscription renewal capability – which is where we can help at Westcon-Comstor. Our training coordinators and dedicated Services Business Development Managers, have the experience and expertise to recommend training, explain the latest vendor learning paths, manage learning credits and share our course calendar. This is also complemented by our dedicated renewals team.

5. Accelerating unemployment

Employment figures for the US show that the unemployment rate rose from 3.5% in February 2020 to peak at 14.7% in April 2020, now dropping to around 10%. In contrast, during the Global Financial Crisis in 2009 the unemployment rate in the US rose from 4.7% in December 2007 to nearly 10% by June 2009. In just two months the pandemic has destroyed more jobs than the last recession did in two years.

If partners are going to combat rising unemployment, drive IT adoption and increase customer success, reskilling and upskilling their people and their customers in each capability above is vital in these turbulent times.

Find out more about how our education services and Academy can help.