Online Education

Continuous learning: ever-increasing competition thanks to digital technologies

Posted on February 7th. 2022 at 13:33Updated February 7. 2022 at 2:30 p.m

On the surface, there is nothing new in the sector of continuing education for managers: Insead and HEC Paris, which are always in the Top 10 world champions of exed or management education, claim the lion’s share. However, as the Xerfi study unraveled

, an institute specializing in sectoral economic analysis, profound changes are underway in this ecosystem. Which worsens the competition.

The supply is indeed changing at a time when traditional players – sometimes constrained by the undermining of their economic model under the breath of Covid-19 – intend to meet the protein needs of companies, especially on the digital front. “With the rapid development of technology and working methods, there is a great need for continuous education of executives”, notes Cathy Alegria, Director of Studies at Xerfi.

Digital expertise

However, he adds that digital is not only an invitation to the content of the curriculum, but, of course, to the form as well. “The digital revolution, which has been going on for several years already, has reached a new level with the crisis. The actors had to switch the entire catalog online overnight,” he explains.

While some schools relied on their own distance learning platform, like Skema with the SKOOL portal and Edhec with Edhec Online, others relied on different experts. Either by turning to edtech, these young people specializing in educational technology, as in the case of HEC Paris, emlyon, ESCP and CentraleSup, which have partnered with First Finance. Or using infrastructure providers (for example, Insead asked Barco for its Go-Live platform). Either a selection of mainstream eLearning content from publishers like CrossKnowledge, OpenClassrooms, etc.

“At the time of the epidemic, these initiatives have proven essential to maintain training,” Cathy Alegria points out, stressing that these actors could get rid of their partner’s habit to support the competitor’s habit. “Competitive risk is high against edtechs, which are very offensive with short programs and difficult to compete with given their digital expertise,” he says.

Lack of friendliness, less interaction

Another source of rivalry caused by the dematerialization of programs, the decompartmentalization of national markets, French business schools are exposed to global hyper-competition. “Now, executives can access prestigious training courses such as those at Harvard and MIT with a single click,” recalls Cathy Alegria. In particular, the shift to distance education has sometimes disrupted the learning experience and therefore damaged the brand image of the facilities. “By investing in digital technologies, some traditional ex-players have undermined several of their unique features, such as interactions during meetings and moments of relaxation that lead to networking,” explains the study’s director.

A reflection on the “right balance between physical courses and e-learning” seems essential.

Cathy Alegria Research Director at Xerfi

Therefore, “at a time when it is difficult to imagine the return of 100% face-to-face training”, according to Cathy Alegria, it seems essential to think about “the right balance between physical courses and e-learning”. This applies both to the premium offer, which must be designed in a hybrid mode, as well as to the middle class and even the lower part of the market, where again there are many new competitors: secondary business and management schools, institutes of political studies, some engineering schools and universities and edtech.

“In this context, it seems that the pillars for achieving the difference are, on the one hand, investments in the creation of high-quality executive programs, on the other hand, the ability to quickly rise in international rankings, and finally . building a strong brand,” concludes Cathy Alegria.

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