Transcript of the interview:

Docebo 0:07
Hi everyone and welcome back to the learning elevated podcast brought to you by Docebo, the show where we help you elevate your learning efforts and move up in the world of enterprise learning and development. Guiding you in your journey up the tower, as always, will be your elevator operators – myself Kerri Moore and my co host Rob Ayre, and each week we stop off at a new floor. Today we’re getting off on the third floor, which is the Goldmine. So we’ve got our hardhats and our tools. So let’s start digging. Let’s start digging indeed – I’m so excited for this episode, Rob. Yeah, me too. So we’ve got an incredible interview lined up for you today, our CRO, Alessio Artuffo will be speaking with John Leh the CEO and Analyst of Talented Learning. So we’ve got an incredible interview lined up for you today, our CRO, Alessio Artuffo will be speaking with John Leh the CEO and Analyst of Talented Learning, it’s going to be an incredible interview, we can’t wait for your guys to listen to this. Now typically what we do we jump into a little pre-learning before we go into the interview, but we think this interview really just stands on it’s own so we wanted to jump right in. Enjoy and we will chat with you after!

So john is good to have you on this podcast today.

John Leh 3:20
Thanks for having me.

Alessio Artuffo 3:22
Great stuff. So, John, you’ve been in the learning technology space for how long now?

John Leh 3:28
25 years.

Alessio Artuffo 3:30
That’s right. And it looks like you have chosen Talented Learning to have a tremendous focus in the world of the extended enterprise. Am I correct about that?

John Leh 3:43
That’s exactly right. 25 years ago, by accident, I tripped into my my first job as an instructional designer -was in the extended enterprise space before anybody called it that. And so really from minute one in my career, I’ve been involved in it and when I started Talented Learning, now over seven years ago, we did all of our focus and continue to all of our focus on the science of training externally.

Alessio Artuffo 4:09
That’s awesome. And for those of us that have shared the many years of experience in the space, what led you to focusing on the external side of things?

John Leh 4:25
Well, as I mentioned, my first job was to help high tech and telecom communication organizations to create learning so that they could educate their customers and their channel partners and 25 years ago, they were spending top dollar on this much more so than the same organizations would spend on their internal audiences. And so I started asking the question, Well, why? Why would that be? Why would you be willing to spend three times as much and have all this production value for your non employees? And as it turns out is because it’s all about the business. Organizations don’t train their customers or their partners or their prospective customers because it’s fun. They train them because they can make a business difference to – they can move the business needle in their organization. And so, because of that, I’ve always found it much more fun to be on the external side of the equation, because you always have a seat at the executive table because what you’re doing is not about just sucking up costs, but it’s about making an impact on the business.

Alessio Artuffo 5:32
Right. John at Docebo, we have started focusing on extended enterprise – I remember back in the …probably around 2013 / 2014 when we have implemented things to address extended enterprise scenarios and from there on have continued to invest in that technology to support it. And I think I believe as a learning technologist there’s a there’s a difference right between marketing an idea and actually building towards an idea. Would you agree that extended enterprise as a practice is relatively new to many vendors and I think the second part of the question for me is how long have you seen the space really investing in building technology that supports that use case?

John Leh 6:41
Yeah, they’re all good questions ones we study and have studied and continue to study here at Talented Learning to come up with answers on all that, so for many years, for many years for 14 years of my career, I carried an enterprise LMS sales bag and sold enterprise Learning Management Systems, and during that time I focused, kind of uniquely, always on applying LMS solutions externally – looking and prospecting for extended enterprise use cases in all that time. And I kept myself busy and employed with two different providers during that time, mainly focusing on that. So it’s been around for a long time, that companies have been focusing on it. But back in the day, meaning more than 10 years ago, there was really only a handful of vendors, maybe a dozen or 15. And to do a degree all of them would take extended enterprise business, but nobody really focused on right and then once these big companies got integrated into the talent suites, and the HR suites, all focus, 100% of it really went to the employees right, there was just no innovation on the on the external side of the business. And there’s always an assumption or there was an assumption that maybe if you have e-commerce or something that’s good enough for your external audiences. But what’s happened is that it’s a whole new feature set, though it certainly shares features. With an employee learning management system, there’s really a series of things that are needed only externally that aren’t needed internally and vice versa. And so what we’ve seen is that there’s specialization in the marketplace to those vendors that get it. And those vendors that don’t. And it’s a lot more than having a shopping cart and checkout. It’s a whole mentality of engaging, voluntary learners, learners that you don’t have any control over, you can’t make them do anything. And to have them consumed sometimes by content and do that all voluntarily takes a whole different application, set of features and functionalities, integrations into other systems, as well as vendor know how on best practices and so forth. And so what we’re seeing right now is an increased focus on a book From a buyer standpoint, right, but also as vendors try to catch up quite well.

Alessio Artuffo 9:04
John, one of the things that I think the market and those that will be listening to this podcast, and I bet one recurring question will be how do we define in the learning technology space, the actual extended enterprise? Is that is that about external training? What, how do you go about really defining the extended enterprise as a practice?

John Leh 9:26
That’s a great question. I, I, I’ve evolved my thinking over the years on what is or what is an extended enterprise, but I think it’s easiest, where I’ve arrived at is to think it in in two large buckets. The first bucket is corporate extended enterprise. And those are the organizations that always have employees, but they always have customers and very often they have partners that help them sell and distribute their audiences. So from a corporate extended enterprise, the focus is really on perspective customers, customers and partners, none of them being your employees, none of them being audiences that you can tell what to do. And most frequently with corporate extended enterprise, the initiative is to aid the business, not always, but it’s to aid the business, the core business. So if you’re a software company, you have training to help sell the software, you have training to help turn prospects into customers on the software and get customers successful on it. So, but it’s all about really aiding your core business. The second main group of extended enterprises, for lack of a better word is the continuing education bucket. And these are organizations that the primary business is training external people. So that could be like professional associations, for profit training companies, just for profit corporations that their main business is content. You know, they produce content, they distribute content, whether that’s training or curriculums or certification, but in some way, they’re, they’re using that as their core business. Both groups have a lot of common features, and really, vendors can play in both groups. But the main differences is corporate extended enterprise corporations can deploy a system for their employees, or for their prospects or customers or partners, or any combination of that. So, and organizations do so they might do customers and employees are just their pure extended external audiences. And so that’s it requires a different skill set because from an LMS standpoint, because there’s still employee features and functionalities required. The other side of the equation and the continuing education usually makes an assumption that there is never any employee trading. And so it’s all about the pure business of selling and marketing content. And so they’re they’re starting to develop into their own specialized segment though there is certainly crossovers of both.

You know, there’s with with an experience on our end of roughly a thousand customers that either exclusively or partially will have extended enterprise use cases as part of their platform utilization in Docebo. One of the things that I’ve learned that one of the trends that fascinates me the most, is there’s a – there seems to be a shift in the market to where those industries and markets that despite being traditionally deemed as more conservative in their approach to learning more, perhaps, employee driven are really starting to giving a serious thought and implementing learning initiatives that direct their either customer base and agents or resellers, partners and you name it entities that are outside of their close circle of control and corporate governance. Have you seen that as well? Is there any story or sector in particular that you’d been surprised about the growth of adoption of extended enterprise in

Yeah, it’s really across all different sectors. At first, it seemed like technology and technology companies, and software companies were the early adopters, and probably because they’re comfortable with technology from the first place and it made a lot of sense, but when we see it in our clients at Talented Learning and go across all different kinds of sectors from automobile to aviation, to transportation to energy, so all different types and flavors of health care facing outside of your organization. So seems like it’s really mainstream in a lot of different industries. And I think what’s happened is I don’t think a lot of the second phase type industries outside of the technology and high tech woke up one morning and said, we want to be on the front edge of external learning. What happened is that their their competitors adopted it before them yeah, and started to see the business and measure the business impact. And they saw, these organizations saw hit in their in their real business. And so a lot of our clients that we see at Talented Learning that we help find extended enterprise systems and find out what exactly they need and their requirements are doing is playing catch up ball in the marketplace. And so, once again, it’s fun to be on this side of the fence because they know they’re behind. And they also know that their competition is making a difference with it, and so they want to leap frog from, you know, from a capability and what they do standpoint. And so in employee learning, you hear that but you don’t see that very often or organizations aren’t investing heavily to, to leap frog not often to be the next best employee organization, but you see it all the time in extended enterprise and so there’s a heavy investment across these industries. Very exciting time to be in it.

Alessio Artuffo 15:25
Look, I know, I know that we’re going to have learning technology experts listen to this to this podcast. And we’ve stayed perhaps and we focused on the business side of things so far, but when we look at extended enterprise in adoption, you know, John, what do you think really makes the difference? What are the things that in terms of practical adoption, signifies a platform that as a true readiness to be used in external scenarios and use case? What have you seen customers being most successful with? And what are the areas of strength that those platforms that in fact succeed in external training really excel in?

John Leh 16:19
Right? That’s a great question. So there is overlap. Certainly both types of systems, employee and extended enterprise will manage content and will manage users and the interrelationship between the two. So they are from a foundation, they have a core foundation. But when you face externally as an organization and provide training externally, you have a whole different series of things that you have to consider. And one is that you can’t tell your users what to do. So you have to attract them. You have to make them want to come to your site, make them want to search and engage find the content, swipe the credit card, take that content and come back and do it again and again, because they have to, they have to have reason to do that internal motivation or some sort of motivation to do that. And in employee learning that motivation is easy take this content or you’re fired. And so you can, as an organization can cut corners in terms of user interface, amount of clicks in between finding what content you should really take, personalization of content of really tailored to you, you could take shortcuts on all that from an employee standpoint, because you’re it just doesn’t matter. At the end of it at the end of the day, but in in the LMS. For extended enterprise, you can’t do that. In addition to that whole user interface concept, you have to think that all users today are on Facebook or Instagram, right, any anything else and they really know how it all works without being told on their mobile device on you know, be able to have everything you know, scaling towards that. They don’t know what those requirements are. They can’t verbalize it. But they know what good apps are versus apps that they can’t use in their real life. And so from an extended enterprise, that same level of expectation is there. So it has to be as good as the mainstream apps that people are using either socially or from an e-commerce way. And another big bucket, another big bucket to think about is the bucket of integration. So for employees, when you integrate your LMS into the ecosystem, you care about the HR system, you care about the employee Single Sign On system. That’s generally that’s, you know, performance management, perhaps your talent management type systems, but that’s generally, you know, what you see 95% of the times for integration, yeah, yeah. But in in extended enterprise, it’s not so cut and dry by any stretch, instead of HRs is their CRMs. So you have a integrate into Microsoft Dynamics or HubSpot or, most commonly, and how you integrate it and what data you share and where does the integration happen and, and you know, all that is, is and can be different from buying organization to buying organization depending on how they deployed it. Also, because you’re dealing with customers, in many cases, you have to deal with customer support software. And so to integrate into those type of applications that never ever show up in employee learning, and then also in the e-commerce and commerce, gateway translation and content. And then from a functionality standpoint, a key thing to note is that 100% / 99.9% of extended enterprise content is proprietary. Because you’re not going to train your customers on somebody else’s intellectual property, generally. And so you all it’s always about trading on your products or services or intellectual property, or content. So that means you can’t go buy content for extended enterprise off the shelf. So that drives a real big need to be able to create content easily linked to content, bring in any type of content, bring content in from multiple sources, that that share content. All that of the process of creating content is super important inside of extended enterprise. But because most people are coming from the business side, they typically don’t come with degrees in instructional technology or experience with Articulate or other third party authoring systems. So the ability for these LMS is to help with the content creation in a fast, practical manner is also a key differentiator.

Alessio Artuffo 20:53
That’s fantastic. And let’s stay on the content front for a minute, I think you raise a really good point. The one where extended enterprise scenarios for the most part that do require an in house capability to not only understand the content that’s needed, but also produce it in a timely manner to speed to market seems to be critical in that regard. Where do you think the technology is, is, you know, how do you think that technology and the learning technology landscape is responding to that need today? We, we’re all very familiar with a world of authoring tools, your your, you know, approach to course outlines and in developing content using best in class authoring tools, but does that answer the needs of an organization that has chosen as part of their go-to-market to adopt the true extended enterprise strategy?

John Leh 22:01
Well, I think it all depends. It all depends. So the the existing structure of creating content and third party authoring tools and LCMSs, you know, that paradigm can still apply and does apply to those organizations that are creating external content. But I think that an important dynamic is that if an organization is creating their own content for their employees, and for their extended enterprise, typically they have that infrastructure of instructional designers and project managers and process and what tools that they like to use. Yeah. And so that’s one scenario I run into a whole lot, but the other scenario that’s probably more common is a business unit that’s going to do their own thing for customers and prospects, for example, you know, right out of the customer group, and they don’t come with a whole ready staff of instructional design.

Alessio Artuffo 22:57
Content developers, right

John Leh 22:58
Most people would never know about What ATD is, you know, that’s coming from, you know, from that side of the fence. And so those organizations, they need something more turnkey, they need it to be easier. They can’t get into a discussion about why SCORM is worse than XAPI

And the tracking and all of that.

Alessio Artuffo 23:17
It’s immaterial it’s immaterial, we just need to create content we need to. Yeah, it’s not about what they score on the test. It’s about whether or not they buy our software or whether they adopt it adopted or renew and and what rate they renew. Those things are what we’re measuring, you know, pre post test is a lot less important.

Alessio Artuffo 23:38
Hundred percent. So, when it comes to understand that we have a lot of different types of businesses that have chosen / are choosing to adopt extended enterprise strategies. Have you seen companies attaching specific metrics in order to evaluate and measure the impact on their bottom line?

John Leh 24:05
I think in almost every case, in almost every case, you train your employees because you have to. Typically you’re mandated either by government of some sort, or regulations or mandatory training. So there there’s it. There’s a focus of that. For extended enterprise, it’s always about trying to do something differently. And in general, you can group it into three main buckets. I think it’s the the bucket of saving money. And you see that all the time and learning management and the arguments are just the same if you’re already providing training to your customers, but you’re doing it with a brick and mortar building in live instructors. And there’s a business case to make money by automating and put it online using the content more often going globally. So you save money, but then there’s the bucket of making money and this is very rarely do you see this on employee and so they say we want to convert more prospects into customers at a higher rate. We want our customers to be more successful, when they onboard, we want to increase the retention rate of our customers, you know, so those are all things that you can measure from what customers are actually doing and then see whether they not they took training or not, and draw right to a line of how much money that is making your organization. That’s just customers, partners and sales partners work exactly the same way. So you can see which partners got certified or not certified in your products and services. And then how that change their sales performance in terms of size of deals, day sales, outstanding conversion of their pipeline deals at every stage thought you know, all different things can be measured in the CRM then that once again, you can try back to were tied back to the actual learning metrics have completed or not completed. So organizations, the best ones, hey don’t make a move, not even a teeny move without thinking about the business impact that it’s having. So they’re constantly measuring, predicting, seeing, tweaking, and doing it over and over again, right? The beginning organizations, they usually find like one or two metrics and catch the whole business case around, they’re usually around saving or making money. The finally the last big bucket is improving business process. So a lot of organizations will use it, not so much to make or save money, but say they’re rolling out a new product or services and it typically takes two months. Yes, they can shave that down to seven weeks that has a huge, huge impact across their business. So one example of improving a business process that’s also very measurable.

Alessio Artuffo 26:47
John, at this point, based on what I’m hearing today, if I, you know, we’re to assess carefully the nature of over the extended enterprise, it sounds like no brainer to me sounds like most businesses would benefit out of it. But in fact not, not all organizations have an actual active initiative to turn their learning into a tool to improve their customer relationships or their sales or their professional services, delivery. Whatever makes a customer happiness. Why do you think that’s the case? What are the barriers for organizations to looking beyond internal adoption and thinking of learning as an actual customer success tool?

John Leh 27:48
Yeah, that’s also another great question. I think one of the biggest barriers is just mindset. Our industry like if you go to ATD International, look at all the different sessions that can be available. There’s almost none on LMS and zero on extended enterprise. So still, like all the education that you get in the industry, if you are an instructional designer, and you come from the instructional background like so many of us do, including myself, you don’t see that you don’t find that as a tract. And so what happens is in real life, only those organizations with the most progressive leaders are the ones that are thinking about touching both internal and external at the same time, but the external audiences, the external owners of the external audiences, rather the business owners of the external audiences, whether their HR comes along and leads or not is immaterial, they still have the same business problem of impacting the business. And so what I found is that just because HR training isn’t actively involved, that honestly doesn’t matter. If they’re not involved, that’s just because they’re behind. It’s happening. It’s happening anyway inside their organization. And that’s why it’s not uncommon for me to run into an organization that might have seven or 10 or more LMSs because HR didn’t lead, training didn’t lead, and so everybody did their own thing. And that happens more often than not. So I think the reality is in 2020, is that extended enterprise is going on, to some degree in every organization. But like everything else in life, it’s on a scale of doing it manually all the way, to being, you know, the world leaders having in automated within the true extended enterprise ecosystem.

Alessio Artuffo 29:34
John, a final question from my side I, I wholeheartedly agree that the mindset shift is what’s going to drive the next phase of maturity of extended enterprise. But what about technologies can technologies like AI and machine learning provide insights in the actual behaviors of our customers and partners and agents and outside world so to help us determine what their actual needs are, what their actual ones are, what the patterns of their behavior and consumption or products and services are so that we can actually have insightful, targeted direction into where we can actually help them make the best of our product, services, consulting, advisory, whatever is our business, should we look into empowering AI further as a input to better customer success and therefore implementing extend enterprise initiatives?

John Leh 30:42
Well, I think it’s all coming, and to some degrees it’s here and it’s coming in, in every industry. So AI is going to become more and more important and relevant as time goes on. I think from a practical nature, there’s a lot of steps that people are taking this side of AI or should be taking that they’re not in terms of like, for example, just combining business data with training data. So many organizations that I run with, or work with or talk to start off by using LMS reports to analyze the data about training progress and completion. The next tier of organizations say, okay, now let’s combine that with business data to see if we can make connections, simple connections on impact on the business. And then I think the third group, the ones that are right now on the cutting edge, and the most innovators are saying, okay, we recognize that we have so much data now that we can’t see what’s hiding in this data. We can’t see trends that are happening at another level. And that’s where AI and machine learning starts to come into play, to be able to analyze huge sets of data for trends that aren’t obvious or not necessarily that you’re even looking for at first. Some organizations are doing it the very best ones. I think it’s coming As a it also becomes a differentiator. But from a practicality standpoint, I still think that it’s something to be embraced in our industry. There’s steps before that still. But I’m a very practical type of guy.

Alessio Artuffo 32:14
I love it. I love it. John, thank you so much for your time today. It was so great to have you on the series of podcast. We we learned a lot more about the extended enterprise space. I am generally excited about the growth of this area of learning will we on our side as Docebo will continue to invest heavily in this area is a tremendous amount of focus for us. So thank you for being part of this community of believers in extended enterprise and let’s keep the, let’s keep up the good work you’re doing.

Alessio Artuffo 32:46
You’re very welcome. Thanks for inviting me today. It was fun. I love to talk shop today. We’ve been talking between the two of us now for almost six years, you know, your extended enterprise so it’s a it’s great to watch your progress and now to watch your thought leadership You have for your continued thought leadership and says we don’t do anything else. I’m sure we’ll see a whole lot of each other out in the marketplace.

Alessio Artuffo 33:06
John, amazing, thank you very much.

John Leh 33:09
All right, thank you have a great day.

Docebo 33:10
Hopping back on the elevator and I gotta tell you, I couldn’t be more excited after that interview, it was fantastic. big thank you to John Leh. Excellent, excellent information, as always, and thank you to Alessio Artuffo for being our guest host for the episode. Absolutely. Well, we’re continuing up the tower and next time we’re gonna be getting off at floor four, and we’re getting off at the movies is time to settle in. So Allison Dell is going to be joining us from Cineplex as we get exclusive VIP access on how they build and reiterate their learning strategy. So we’re going to get our favorite viewing snacks and start to get comfy. See you then!

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Floor 3: The GoldmineJohn Leh