By Peter Armaly
Learning seems like a straightforward proposition. You want to achieve something; let’s call that something A. To achieve A, you need to understand, and make use of, some other important thing; let’s call it B. Once you learn how B works, you can use that knowledge to accomplish A.
Pretty clear, right? Sure – until something muddies the water (i.e. time, money or other people).
Think of it another way. If there was a world where time, money, and other people didn’t matter, you’d be able to architect and build your own suspension bridge. The bridge would be A. However, to build the bridge, you need to know algebra and understand parabolas, which, even though you didn’t realize it in high school, offer important guidance for suspension bridges. Parabolas would be B. If you get them wrong, then, well, the bridge won’t work. It won’t suspend. So, you probably shouldn’t attempt to architect a suspension bridge until you first understand algebra. That’s also a good cautionary tale for the world of business software.
Charging for Education
For decades, vendors have offered product information to help their customers learn to properly leverage the solutions they’ve purchased. More often than not, though, vendors charged customers for the information. After all, the vendor had made a considerable investment to create and deliver material, so they felt that they’d want to recoup the costs (and maybe even squeak out some profit in the process). That approach made it more difficult for customers to to learn “algebra” and achieving A was that much harder.
We heard this loud and clear (not the algebra part) in our Voice of the Customer program. Our customers told us that fee-based education was slowing their teams’ ability to adopt solutions. We like to think we’re bright people, and so it wasn’t hard for us to imagine where that story could end.
Cloud Sometimes Presents an Off-Ramp
As with so many other aspects of modern business, the cloud has upended that traditional vendor approach. Rapid on boarding and customer enablement are now seen as far more important than recouping costs (with apologies to CFOs everywhere for that blanket statement). Cost pressures have forced a shift in preferences to cloud-based, in-the-moment education. The shift is significant, and it’s borne out in studies, such as this one from the research firm Software Advice. Retaining customers is a key board-level cloud metric for vendors and to retain customers requires that they be successful in the pursuit of their own goals. A straighter line has never existed, as one does now, between customer solution knowledge and higher rates of retention and growth. That’s why education has become one of the great enablers of a customer’s ability to be successful in the cloud. It’s understood that you can’t easily achieve A without being able first to consume B.
Oracle’s Exciting New Learning Platform
That’s also why Oracle has introduced a free digital learning platform designed to help customers take advantage of Oracle Cloud Applications. Called Oracle Launchpad, the goal is to assist our customers in achieving their business goals. Providing knowledge, not just information, is a plank in our customer success strategy and one we anticipate will help our customers realize a faster time to value. The onus is on us to clear the path as much as we can for our customers as they pursue their goals.
Read more about what the press thinks of our new strategy here, here, and here.