As part of any new digital platform, be it a digital marketplace, an e-commerce platform or a digital application, the crucial question to answer is what capabilities can the platform provide users today and tomorrow? If we take a simple example of Agoda.com, the initial model was fairly straightforward yet brilliant. It took hotel rooms and aggregated them into 1 single location where a user could easily browse through thousands of options in a single click. The value proposition was effective and elegant.
However, since then, Agoda has managed to aggregate the entire holiday experience from hotel booking, flight bookings, local tourist attractions (activities) and even incorporating long stays which could be competitive to Airbnb. Today, the platform serves over 2.6 million properties in 200 countries, employs close to 5,000 employees in 30 countries and is available in 38 different languages. The main feature that allowed its scalability was its digital platform and how it could morph into different sectors of the travel experience.
Similarly, in learning and development, the central question is what else can a L&D platform do and how can it bring value to the corporate L&D ecosystem? As per E&Y’s perspective, given that we agree that reskilling is critical to organisation success, the transformation of the learning function has to follow suit. The only question is where is the future in L&D and how can digital marketplaces support its needed trajectory.
If you’d like to know more about the impact of digital marketplaces, I suggest you check out our 2 previous articles on digital marketplaces which focused on driving more accessibility in the market and developing a strong social proof in the industry.
Discover Part 1 & Part 2 of the author's three part series here:
Digital Marketplaces and Leadership and Development – Accessibility (Part 1)
Digital Marketplaces and Leadership and Development – Supplier Quality & Social Proof (Part 2)
What future trends are applicable for digital L&D Marketplaces?
To answer this question, it is probably best to start with answering the most fundamental question of why suppliers list products on marketplaces and why customers use such platforms.
For suppliers, it’s pretty straightforward:
- Increase brand and product exposure
- Online marketplaces become another channel for marketing products
- Having a digital peer to peer social proof mechanism helps build trust
A recent survey in 2021 indicated that sellers that use digital marketplaces see 38% more ROI than those that just utilise their own websites and word of mouth to sell their products and solutions. In that light, future trends in L&D marketplaces could expand multiple channels that traditionally are hard to scale. For example, if we take public programmes which are often sold at a fixed price, the main challenge for sellers is to effectively market the programme and get sufficient participants to justify its cost.
Marketplaces aggregate the demand of an industry and therefore the platform essentially plays the role of driving marketing to the programme. Seats get sold out faster and the cost of running such a programme is reduced. That might spur a whole set of products and solutions that don’t exist today. For customers, this is a win as they can now send employees for lower cost programmes and suppliers win as they get to diversify their product offerings to the market.
Another aspect that we could consider is the growth of data analytics and how it can inform consumers and suppliers alike on how the industry is shifting. As a single supplier, it is very difficult to get a read on the market as your exposure is often times limited to the clients you interact with. To understand fundamental industry shifts, it takes a lot more exposure and network to sense it early.
Digital marketplaces can offer that aggregated view as they can uniquely observe consumer searches, product clicks, supplier clicks and the list can go on and on. AI has also entered the field of search by enabling better and a more hyper-personalised customer experience. The customer experience is enhanced and that enablement lifts the entire industry forward.
According to The Future of Commerce’s article on Digital Marketplaces, a good mantra is “think globally, act locally”. Global marketplaces often scale globally and this implies a local L&D provider can start gaining market exposure in new countries without having to invest time and effort in building a traditional product partnership with a local provider. This ultimately helps L&D scale to new regions, boosts revenue and could also mitigate risks impact certain localities. Customers benefit as well by gaining a wider range of options and immediately broadening their supplier base.
On the customer’s perspective, another great opportunity is to leverage specific requests for L&D and to get suppliers to bid for it. Similar to the model of Fiverr, this ability allows for a more niche approach when customers don’t find the right solution that meets their requirements. Creating a platform that allows them to post their internal requirements allows suppliers to bid for such engagements and as a result, both the supplier and customer win in the process.
Having the right volume in the market allows for a lot more customisation and opportunities to flourish, thereby solving some of the bigger challenges faced by consumer and suppliers alike. Digital marketplaces are uniquely placed to be able to solve this as they are better equipped to deal with industry volume versus the option of individual suppliers dealing individually with consumers. Scaling a marketplace therefore becomes the ultimate difference in creating real impact in the L&D industry.
In conclusion to our series of digital marketplaces and L&D, we can clearly see that for a real shift to happen in the corporate L&D industry, we need to be able to aggregate demand and supply and thereby creating sufficient volume in the industry. By doing that, digital marketplaces can integrate and create new features that help both suppliers and consumers.
Going through the challenges of any current industry, we understand that L&D is unique as it is a service driven industry but regardless of the solution being sold, it can be made more efficient, transparent and future proof so that the industry continues to develop and evolve. At TalentStore, we incorporate accessibility and social proof as a fundamental feature within the platform with the aim to help decision makers cut through the noise and to find the right solutions for their organisations. Over time, with the right scale and reach, it could open up the doors for amazing features and capabilities that would strengthen the industry.
This article was also published on TalentStore.