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As adoption becomes the most important objective for education services organizations, it's important to keep in mind that not all adoption is created equal. Adoption falls along a gradient consisting of low, to high, to effective consumption of a product or service. When it comes to education services, the best way to gauge where someone is on the adoption gradient is to think about it in terms of the content you're providing, and how it's being consumed by your learners. The processes for measuring this consumption varies by whether you're delivering content using a "broad" or "deep" approach, which we'll discuss in just a bit.

A Shift in the Main Objective for Education Services Organizations

One of the key questions in the TSIA Education Services Benchmark Survey asks ES organizations to select their primary objective from the following list:

  • Education services revenue
  • Education services profit
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Overall company market share
  • Product adoption

Back in 2010, 60% of the companies who participated in the benchmark survey said that revenue was their primary objective, 0% selected customer satisfaction (CSAT), and 10% selected adoption. 

primary objective for education services organizations  

(Click image to enlarge.)
Source: TSIA State of Education Services 2016 Report

Starting approximately a year ago, there has been a dramatic shift in the ES objective; it's moved away from revenue and toward CSAT and adoption. To be clear, this shift doesn’t mean that generating revenue isn’t important to ES organizations anymore, it is. It just means that the point of context is now about how ES can enable customers so that they have the best experience possible with the company’s products and services (CSAT) and how that experience influences a customer's product usage (adoption). 

In short, the data shows that more technology solutions providers are taking steps to respond to increasing customer demand for assistance in achieving outcomes, one of which is adoption, rather than focusing solely on nickels and dimes. For education services organizations, there are two aspects of adoption worth considering: broad adoption and deep adoption.

Broad Adoption – One-to-Many

Broad adoption is based on the volume of people, with the primary objective being to determine the total addressable training population in a given account, and then to touch as many of those people as possible. This is best achieved in a one-to-many delivery model, such as a subscription. Think of broad adoption as being similar to a sales funnel. You need to have a lot of customers in the pipeline in order to end up with a few sales at the end of the day. The same is true with adoption; To drive it broadly, you have to impact as many people as possible, and it all comes down to numbers. For example, if you only touch 20 to 30 people in an account, driving broad adoption is going to be much more difficult than if you can reach hundreds.

To track the effectiveness of training on broad adoption, measure penetration at the account level – of all the possible people in the account who could consume training, how many actually have?

Deep Adoption – One-to-One

Deep adoption is based on the volume of content an individual learner is consuming. You can look at the penetration rate at an individual level by tracking how much content they've consumed. Are they "one and done," having consumed only one course or a single piece of content, or are they consuming everything that you have, a little bit at a time? Perhaps they're reading the blogs you post, attending online courses, watching YouTube videos, etc. This also creates further opportunity to “hand-deliver” more relevant content based on what the individual is consuming.

In order to successfully impact adoption, you'll need to consider both broad and deep approaches. As you move customers along the adoption gradient of low, to high, to effective, each stage has content that maps to it, as shown in the following: 

  • Low adoption. This is basic content focused on getting a customer started on using the product. To what degree is someone using the product? A little bit, maybe not at all? How can education services help customers to start using the product more?
  • High adoption. This is content that introduces additional product functionality that was not included in the basic content. How much of the product is the individual using? Is it 30% of the features, 50%, more? How can education services help customers to use more of the product?
  • Effective adoption. This is content that focuses on best practices for optimizing how the product is used. While an individual may be using many of the features of the product, could they be using those features better? How can education services help customers to use the product better? 

Learn More About How to Increase Effective Adoption of Education Services Offers

Be sure to check out my On-Demand webinar, "The State of Education Services," where I cover these concepts in detail, as well as discuss what education services organizations should focus on: adoption, pricing strategy, and certification. 

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Maria Manning-Chapman

About Author Maria Manning-Chapman

Maria Manning-Chapman, is the distinguished vice president of education services research for TSIA. She has more than 25 years of education experience in the high-technology industry. Maria is well versed in the dynamics of running an education services business and has held leadership positions in operations, virtual learning, business development, curriculum development, delivery, and partner management over the course of her career.

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