The Challenges of Supporting Learning Across the Extended Enterprise

I've been doing some work recently on the best type of learning infrastructure for supporting the extended enterprise and would appreciate people's thoughts about this challenge and your plans to address it.

(by 'extended enterprise' I mean the entire ‘supply chain’ or a ‘value chain’ that organisations serve and interact with - not just their employees, but also their customers, suppliers, resellers etc. - everyone in their organisation's 'ecosystem').


With the extended enterprise in mind, I have some concerns about the HR-focus of learning infrastructure (and LMS technology in particular) and the recent calls for tighter integration with enterprise talent systems and other HRIS technologies.

The rationale for my concerns is as follows:

[1] Many organisations are 'flattening and extending'. Middle management layers are being removed and hierarchies are 'softening' - organisations (government agencies, private corporations and not-for-profit enterprises) have an increasing need to work in an integrated manner across their value chains.

[2] This trend is likely to gain pace - with organisations wishing to work even more closely across their value chains (with suppliers, distributers, clients/customers and other groups) in future.

[3] Smart organisations already do this, many have yet to start the journey. Most will need to do so.

[4] With this in mind, it will be vital for L&D to support capability development across the entire value chain and not just focus on workers with an employee number/record in the organisation's HR database.

[5] A few HR/L&D departments have learning infrastructure in place that is capable of, and is currently, supporting their extended enterprises in a seamless way. Many don’t. The latter appear to be blinkered to offering learning services only to a sub-group of their value chain.

[6] Part of the 'drag' is due to the push for consolidation of learning infrastructure with other HR and enterprise systems.

[7] Although consolidation of learning systems, talent systems and other HR systems makes sense from an HR perspective – with, potentially, a single vendor offering – this approach doesn't seem to be in the best interest of the overall organisation.

[7] Consolidation of learning and HR technologies reduces the flexibility of learning services and is counter-productive from both individual employee and partner workers point-of-view, and from the overall organisational learning value point-of-view.

I would be interested in talking with anyone, or any organisation, currently struggling with this challenge, and hearing the views of people in organisations that are yet to rise to the challenge.

There is a white paper on this subject that Constantin Ohanian and I published recently – with the title: “White paper: New Ways of Learning Inside and Beyond the Organization” – on the Certpoint website

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