Organizations today face multiple challenges to sustain and grow their bottom line, and they engage multiple audiences to achieve success including customers, partners, suppliers, channel and distribution networks, independent agents, and others. These diverse groups of constituents who have an impact on your organization’s success are known as your Extended Enterprise.

Likely, your organization is involved in activities to derive the greatest value from these groups including:

Improving Business Performance
But exactly how are these objectives to be attained in a cost effective manner? The answer lies in the concept of the Extended Enterprise. SumTotal’s Extended Enterprise platform is ideal for companies that are to some degree dependent on external audiences to promote and sell their products. Industries including insurance, real estate, financial services, durable goods manufacturing, technology, communications, or any field relying on the channel or independent reps/dealerships can all benefit markedly from the Extended Enterprise. Firms operating in such sectors can harness Extended Enterprise to:

  1. Boost agility to prepare for and react to rapidly changing market conditions.
  2. Improve business performance and productivity to impact the top and bottom line.
  3. Increase customer retention and acquisition to maximize revenue.
  4. Protect, reinforce, differentiate, and promote brand image to attract and acquire customers.

The concept of the Extended Enterprise encompasses the extension of a corporation outward beyond traditional bounds. It can stretch out into many different business or performance spheres. This might include customers, partners, suppliers, channel and distributor networks, franchisees, association members, independent agents, contractors or volunteers. Various combinations of these external audiences form part of any company’s Extended Enterprise.

Obviously, some organizations are more dependent upon a healthy Extended Enterprise than others. An insurance firm that is reliant on a large group of independent agents is a good example. Similarly, a member-based organization’s livelihood is directly tied to groups existing external to the corporation.

The same goes for a durable goods manufacturer that distributes products to a variety of retail outlets. Its sales are carried out by salespeople who don’t directly work for the company, and who have the option of selecting competitive products if they choose. Those firms that best understand the concept of the Extended Enterprise are most likely to survive and expand in a chaotic economy.

The purpose of SumTotals’s Extended Enterprise training platform, then, is to bring about the efficient delivery of knowledge for the strategic purpose of transforming business performance. This can perhaps best be explained by looking at what typically happens with educational programs aimed at suppliers, distributor networks and independent agents:

Organizations send out material in the form of mailings, emails, PDFs or links to webcasts in order to brief external audiences on their products. This approach can be supplemented by visits to train these individuals in a classroom setting. However, they are also inundated by collateral about competitive offerings. In such an environment, even the most finely crafted training campaign is likely to struggle.

What the Extended Enterprise is all about, therefore, is achieving success with such programs. It cuts through the noise to effectively capture the hearts and minds of external audiences. Result: training initiatives are turned into profit centers.

Extended Enterprise solutions are embraced by some of the biggest names in technology, telecommunications, engineering and sales. In addition, a host of small and emerging businesses utilize the Extended Enterprise to stretch their sphere of influence beyond traditional corporate boundaries. Let’s look at some of the ways that the efficient delivery of knowledge can transform business performance.

Boost Agility in Rapidly Changing Market Conditions
In many industries, speed to market is a major success component. Particularly in industries such as computer hardware, software, durable goods and telecommunications, rapid development of products is rarely enough. It takes velocity and agility on the marketing side to ensure results.

Take the example of a software release. In many cases, multiple vendors come to market at the same time with their latest offerings. Extended Enterprise training can help differentiate products by educating channel partners and resellers about a new release more effectively than those of competitors. The speed with which that knowledge gets out can make or break a new product release effort. This doesn’t mean that formal training has to be absent from the process. Distribution of a webcast, PDF or PowerPoint in conjunction with accurate tracking of participants can move your product to top of mind in the target audience.

Another way to become more nimble in a rapidly changing marketplace is in the area of centralized training. Many companies require external sales personnel to be out of the office for one week every year for an update on products, pricing and policy. This represents a hefty annual expense for all concerned when you take airfares, hotels, food and lost productivity into account. What if that week could be either eliminated entirely or reduced to only two days, with the rest of the training done online? An Extended Enterprise solution can facilitate these needs. Read More >>

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