The LMS for Training Businesses and Customer Success programmes.
Yes, perhaps THE Learning Platform every training business should consider if they wish to succeed in making money from marketing and selling learning and training. This platform calls itself a Customer Learning Platform and focuses single mindedly on powering the business of learning as they put it. I feel in the final analysis that this is a platform really designed for delivering customer success programmes.
We have seen a significant rise in training businesses increasingly utilising elearning as part of their mix. There is no doubt that Thought Industries is an excellent choice for training companies (or any organisation delivering training to their clients, franchises or channel partners) that provide digital learning, as it really makes it easy for them to create a fully integrated solution with a strong emphasis on monetisation.
So with that in mind, let’s take a look at what makes Thought Industries and their customer learning platform such an interesting proposition.
High Definition Content
The platform supports the creation or importing of content in a well-designed and intuitive way with its native tool sets. The platform manages the creation of courses from the learning assets very efficiently and effectively… and the presentation of the courses is really very high definition indeed.
The Thought Industries platform handles content beautifully, and it handles pretty much any form of learning you care to think of – SCORM, non-SCORM curated materials, digital materials, ILT, and it will even manage the physical distribution of books and deal with the shipping charges and taxes.
Blended learning is supported and workbooks can be created quickly and easily using the widgets and templates in the platform that can be easily and quickly made available for printing and / or digital interaction. It is quick and easy for learners to upload content to evidence progress.
Quiz banks and powerful and effective assessment are well provided for.
Flexibility is this platform’s middle name
The flexibility of configuration is hugely impressive. The look and feel of the platform can be designed in minute detail so brand guidelines and terminologies used can be exactly on brand and to the customers exact requirements.
The Thought Industries platform can then engage with learners (B2C, B2P (business to professional) and of course B2B. The platform can manage e-commerce or be fully integrated into a client’s tech stack.
Naturally the platform can be cloned effectively and easily to allow training organisations offer white label solutions in the same level of detail.
The approach to design and configuration is very clever. The use of widgets and templates means that the platform’s powers of configuration are actually made quite easy to use and that high definition look and feel is quite quickly and easily achieved. A really smart Netflix look is easily achievable or a look that is tightly aligned to your brand value or your clients brand values.
Content management and learning, and the point of need
The creation of learning resources is very powerful, but what is most impressive is how the resources are managed and tagged in a very learner-centric manner using an excellent tagging engine. One resource can have many attributes and can appear in libraries or catalogues, and be identified by filters, topic or keyword search due to automated indexing built in. None of this is completely unique I know, but the usability is particularly good here (where others still fail and frustrate), but what is unique is the analytics applied to understand the content usage patterns.
Thought Industries was particularly interested in content usage analytics as they have focused on learning at the point of need as a core principle of modern workplace learning and recognising the importance of customer success models for digitally enabled businesses (more later on this approach).
This focus on measuring usage patterns at the moment of need, along with integration of the platform with CRM, HRS or other systems brings something very powerful to the party and is one of the most effective expositions I have encountered in design of an LMS to measure impact, and of course identify gaps in the learning provision.
Certificate management programme
Thought Industries offers a sophisticated certificate management engine that supports the organisation and delivery of certified learning programmes, and can include face to face learning activities.
Marketing and selling learning
Where this platform starts to get really smart is with the application of the marketing engine to allow the management of the sales process. Yes, you can buy the e-learning course, but in doing so you will be offered the accompanying book – maybe a workshop or webinar as well.
Learners can choose options such as mentoring calls or ask the expert features, so one single course can be upsold and customised for individual learners. That is making personalisation work for both parties. This is really very smart – multiple learners can enrol in courses and can each configure the course to their requirements.
Naturally, the e-commerce engine is exceptionally smooth and the whole process is so well designed with many options and opportunities for a training business to really add value. This is a learning business platform that drives results.
Reporting more than just learning
The reporting is superb in the way in which reports can be created looking at learner performance and engagement, naturally (but this platform does that very well indeed) through to reporting the learning business metrics as well.
The reporting can be described as deep reporting of learning activities and highly informative web analytics style reporting of activities looking at sales, site and page statistics to understand what works commercially. This fusion of reporting is really very impressive.
With APIs and Webhooks the Thought Industries platform can integrate with other platforms, CRM to HRS systems and beyond.
Calendering and scheduling is built in, with invites, registrations, bulk uploads and e-mail communication protocols all well thought through. The e-mail protocols for learner engagement are particularly impressive.
The Learner perspective… Ambient Discussions and Positive Learning Friction
Let’s take a look at the learner perspective. The engagement quotient is excellent, high definition indeed. Each learner gets their own customised dashboard giving them a high degree of control from the off which is excellent. Thought Industries refer to this as the Learning Canvas and it begins with a dashboard.
The dashboard is well presented and information rich (naturally the widgets allow for the customisation of dashboards). Learner data can include time spent on the courses.
Sophisticated learning pathways can be customised and created… again a multitude of features are available so these pathways can reflect the desired pathway that is appropriate. Stages, milestones, elective learning opportunities or of course required learning are just some of the components.
Content options… courses, resources, books, videos, presentations and more are beautifully indexed and presented to the learner too in multiple views.
The approach to creating learning interactions is memorable. Thought Industries talk around “creating friction” in the learning process and this is done by creating wysiwyg templates. Features including Social Threads and Video Discussion Threads are provided and work well as points of peer to peer interaction. Another feature I particularly liked is the ability for learners to create self-authored presentations in the platform – all designed to deliver Positive Learning Friction.
Customer success programmes
But, in parallel and even more interestingly we have seen training services from products and services vendors (think software vendors) form part of the customer or client success offer that increasingly forms part of the modern digital business model, and what is so exciting about the Thought Industries platform is that this is a learning platform that will enable learning-led customer success programmes to succeed.
The Thought Industries platform is a fusion of learning creation and delivery to which is added an exceptionally sophisticated sales and marketing engine to ensure that the quality learning provision is monetised or optimised for commercial benefit… customer success with your product or service.
Here at Learning Light we have long been interested in how learning can leverage the skills of marketing, and in the Thought Industries platform many of the models of digital marketing are ruthlessly applied to the commercialisation of learning – to very good effect.
The learner’s learning pathway can be customised, reflecting the preference for learning materials and additional support offered, driven by choice and purchases by the learner. So a bespoke customer success programme can be offered as part of an up-sell to premium support and training for example.
For businesses, there is a powerful toolkit to allow the management of clients, their own white label portals, the creation of catalogues and the whole license management piece, which is particularly powerful.
Hierarchies of Learning pathways
One particular feature that caught my attention was the visualisation of hierarchies of learning pathways. These things can become quite complicated quite quickly, and the ability to see what you have created before your very eyes is really useful indeed.
Panorama License management
Panorama: Branded Content Licensing from Thought Industries.
Building upon the multi tenancy delivery model, Panorama can allow SCORM learning materials to be deployed into third party LMS while they are managed from the Thought Industries platform.
So far we have only scratched the surface of what the Thought Industries platform can do for a business and for the learner.
This is a feature rich learning platform with absolute clarity of purpose.
The Thought Industries platform is built on the three pillars of:
- high definition designed learner journeys
- excellent content management and content creation
- a real in depth understanding of how to deliver revenue by using web sales and marketing skills.
It is exciting and refreshing to see a vendor take such a clear approach to designing a learning platform from the single minded perspective of making training delivery a business opportunity that directly contributes to the commercial aims of the organisation.
To be clear: This is not an internal learning platform – this is all about training for customers and clients.
This clarity of purpose has produced a learning platform that transforms training by fusing it with sales and marketing thereby producing an amazingly effective solution for the monetisation of training delivery and putting the success factor in customer success programmes.
Learn more on the Thought Industries website at www.thoughtindustries.com
Lead eLearning Consultant
Our lead elearning consultant David Patterson is an expert in training technologies such as learning management systems, and in elearning best practices.
He has helped many public and private sector organisations across the UK, Europe and worldwide to create and deliver engaging, effective elearning.
David is joint author of several research papers including the highly acclaimed Learning Light reports on the UK elearning market.