How Far Does Your Learning Extend?

By David Wentworth, Principal Learning Analyst, Brandon Hall Group

Just for a moment, think of all the challenges you face as a learning professional while trying to create and deliver engaging, impactful learning experiences to your fellow employees: You have a multitude of learner groups, each with unique needs and preferences, all looking for knowledge and information that will help them do their jobs. Additionally, you have to track and measure how well that learning is doing. Now, imagine all of those learners don’t actually work for your company. Those challenges seem much more complex, don’t they?

Welcome to the world of extended enterprise learning, where the learning function must deliver high-quality content to distributors, resellers, franchisees and customers. This space is becoming much more relevant as companies seek to extend the kind of experiences they created internally to critical groups outside the organization’s four walls.

Recently, companies got a taste of the extended enterprise model when the COVID-19 pandemic sent a vast chunk of the workforce into their home offices. Brandon Hall Group’s 2020 Extended Enterprise Study was conducted in June and July of this year — during the heart of pandemic stay-at-home orders. The study found that 71% of companies were delivering learning to remote employees during this time. That’s compared to 28% in 2017. Our research also indicates that the number of remote workers will not go back down to anywhere close to where it was prior to the pandemic. Most of you now dealing with some form of extended enterprise.

However, the heart of extended enterprise learning really has to do with groups like customers, resellers and association members. These audiences have a common thread — your company — but are otherwise unrelated. These groups can’t be considered add-ons or ancillary to the learning function at large. For these groups, learning plays a critical role in generating revenue, engaging customers and improving product/brand awareness. As such, extended enterprise learning requires a solid strategy and the right technology to see that strategy through. 

Some key considerations:

  • What modalities make sense for your audiences and subject matter?
  • What do you want the end-user experience to be?
  • Do you expect to generate revenue with extended enterprise learning?
  • How do you plan to manage content and audiences?
  • Do you have the right tools to measure the learning’s impact ?

On September 24th we will host a webinar in which John Schroeder, the Managing Principal for Customer Engagement of Latitude CG and I discuss the findings of the 2020 Extended Enterprise Learning Study and discuss strategies and examples of best practices. I encourage you to join us whether your organization has been training the extended enterprise for years or you are just now exploring your strategy. When done right, this approach can generate revenue (changing the view of learning as a cost center) and drive customer retention and satisfaction (making learning a valuable business partner.

David Wentworth, Principal Analyst, Brandon Hall Group

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