The global managed learning market is about to be hit by consolidation as the focus moves from improving the quality of clients’ service provision to demand planning, a provider has warned.
According to AI Bird, learning consultancy director at KnowledgePool, while customers initially hired external specialists to buy and administer their training in order to cut costs, as the market developed, the emphasis changed to improving the quality of service provision. But the focus is now starting to shift again.
“Today’s clients want a dedicated team of advisors who can respond to individual learners and route all of their training enquiries to the most appropriate intervention every time, whether that’s an in-house solution, an e-learning course, a coaching programme, informal learning or a best-in-class external supplier,” Bird said.
This means that training may not always be the best option, with alternatives such as internal assignments or projects proving more appropriate in certain circumstances. But to be able to respond appropriately to customer requirements, managed learning providers will need to understand demand planning cycles and develop a detailed understanding of clients’ in-house service delivery options.
Demand planning involves analysing organisations’ historic training activity, current training booking and response evaluation data as well as working with them to forecast the extent and scope of future training requirements.
“By combining demand planning with insightful management information, managed learning providers will be able to present improved recommendations to their clients on how they can reduce unnecessary training, cut out inefficiencies and better align their learning with the business needs,” said Bird.
But to provide such broad-based services in a currently fragmented market, it is likely that suppliers such as business process outsourcing specialists, training brokers, vertical integration companies and hybrid providers will need to merge or go down the acquisition route.
“The way the market is moving, not every managed learning provider has the capability or business model to survive. Clients will increasingly want the flexibility to go to the best suppliers for whatever training they need,” Bird said. “Any managed services provider that is part of or tied to a particular training delivery provider might find it difficult to offer this level of flexibility and impartiality.”