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Business Schools Shake-Up Corporate Training With Digital Courses

INSEAD becomes the latest business school to tap into online learning, as digitized management education moves into the $70 billion corporate training market.

Tue Feb 10 2015

INSEAD, the global business school, has become the latest high-ranking educator to tap into online learning, a phenomenon that is fast altering the business education space.

INSEAD is moving further into the corporate training scene, a market that is already worth $70 billion in the US alone, according to research conducted by Deloitte.

The business school’s new web and mobile-based solution delivers high-quality video lectures from INSEAD experts.

It has already landed strategy consultancy Accenture and tech giant Microsoft as clients for the training, named INSEAD Customised Online Solution.

Content is filmed specifically for each company with a studio audience drawn from the course’s target demographic.

The development of new learning technologies has seen a revival of the lucrative area of executive education.

Business schools have been selling customized learning packages delivered online in greater numbers, a result of increased demand from companies and government departments, many in emerging markets.

High-profile contracts include that of London Business School, which secured a $38 million deal to deliver a leadership program to managers at the Kuwait Petroleum Company, a subsidiary of the Kuwait Investment Authority, a sovereign wealth fund. 

INSEAD’s new offering is a response to the increasing pace of change that is shaking up business and higher education. Its digital content is poised to disrupt traditional corporate training for middle managers and knowledge workers, it said.

The business school has invested heavily in executive education. Last month it officially opened a $43.9 million campus expansion in Singapore that will raise capacity by 50% and teach 5,000 executives annually.

Ilian Mihov, INSEAD dean, said he is “tremendously excited” about the potential of customized online education. “I am increasingly convinced that our next campus is [going to be] digital,” he said.

The online offering will be incorporated as a platform for all of Accenture Strategy’s consultants, said Bruno Berthon, managing director of the group.

“It combines top business education with the agility that technology enables,” he said, developed at “scale and speed”.

Employee engagement with INSEAD’s online courses has been strong, and completion rates are in excess of 80%.

An initial pilot with Microsoft, released October 2014, saw 1,000 sales people sign up, according to Peter Zemsky, strategic initiatives and innovation dean at INSEAD.

He said that top-tier business schools are able to address just 5% of corporate training needs. “[But] online allows us to greatly increase access," he said. "High-quality and customisation allow us to assure the engagement necessary for effective learning."

There has been a wave of activity in corporate training, with digital unlocking new markets for business schools in emerging economies in sub-Saharan Africa, and in central and southeast Asia.

Duke Corporate Education, part of America’s Duke University, trains various African clients including banks, natural resources companies and telecoms businesses.

HEC Paris of France recently signed deals with some of Ivory Coast’s state departments – and a federation of private companies – to lead programs for hundreds of public and private sector executives.

The UK’s Henley Business School last year won a contract to train the Financial Conduct Authority, the UK’s financial regulator, with a program that will be taught through distance learning.

The Haas School of Business, based in the US, recently landed a contract to teach Chinese leaders at an executive leadership centre in Shanghai.

In addition to INSEAD clients Accenture and Microsoft, other big-ticket corporates have signed up for online learning delivered by learning technology companies.

Coursera, one of the biggest providers of Moocs, or massive open online courses, landed a contract with internet company Yahoo!, which covers the cost of its employees’ certificates – usually $49 for each unit.

Learning tech group Udemy launched a business service two years ago. It has since grown to have more than 350 partners including Oracle Corporation, the computer technology company, and usually licenses content for $29 per user per month.

The INSEAD deal is the second in a year by Microsoft. In 2014 took part in an online course on big data that was run by learning tech venture EdX, which enrolled 3,500 people in total from more than 2,000 different organizations.

Mark Roberts, associate dean for executive education at INSEAD, said the online content will complement rather than replace the business school’s existing programs.

He added that a customized online solution will allow senior managers to help transform their companies.