Continuing education: growing competition thanks to digital technology

Posted on February 7, 2022 at 1:33 pmUpdated February 7th. 2022 at 2:30 p.m.

At first glance, there is nothing really new in the field of continuing education for executives: Insead and HEC Paris, who are invariably among the top 10 world champions of exed, or executive education, take care of the part of the lion. However, as a study by Xerfi deciphers

, an institute specializing in sectoral economic analysis, profound changes are taking place in this ecosystem. Which aggravates the competition.

The offer is really changing, at a time when traditional actors – sometimes limited by the destruction of their economic model under the breath of the Covid-19 – seek to meet the protein needs of companies, especially in the field digital. “Given the rapid development of technologies and working methods, there is a great need for continuous training of managers,” says Cathy Alegria, director of studies at Xerfi.

Digital expertise

He adds, however, that digital is not just an invitation to the content of the resume, but also, of course, to the form. “The digital revolution has been going on for several years, the digital revolution has reached a new level with the crisis. Overnight, the actors had to change their entire online catalog, “he explains.

While some schools have relied on their own distance learning platform, such as Skema, with its SKOOL portal, and Edhec, with Edhec Online, others have relied on various experts. Whether using edtechs, these young outlets specializing in educational technologies, such as HEC Paris, Emlyon, ESCP and CentraleSup, have signed a partnership with First Finance. Or using infrastructure providers (e.g., Insead asked Barco for its Go-Live platform). Either opt for e-learning content available from publishers such as CrossKnowledge, OpenClassrooms, etc.

“At the height of the epidemic, these initiatives were essential to maintain training,” says Cathy Alegria, stressing that these actors could break away from their partner’s habit to endorse that of a competitor. “The risk of competition is high against edtechs, which are very offensive in short programs, and with which it is difficult to compete given their digital experience,” he says.

Lack of kindness, less interaction

Another source of rivalry generated by the dematerialization of programs, the decompartmentalization of national markets exposes French business schools to global hypercompetence. “Now, executives can access prestigious training courses, such as Harvard and MIT, with just one click,” recalls Cathy Alegria. Above all, conversion to distance learning has sometimes scratched the learning experience and thus tarnished the brand image of the establishments. “By investing in digital, some traditional exed players have undermined several of their singularities, such as interactions during sessions and moments of coexistence conducive to networking,” explains the study’s director.

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

Cathy Alegria Sheriff’s Research Director

Thus, “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 reflect on “the right balance between physical courses and e-learning”. This is true both for the premium offering, which is to be designed in hybrid mode, and for the mid-range and even the lower end of the market where, again, there are many new competitors: business schools and middle-class management, institutes of political studies, certain engineering schools, and universities and edtechs.

“In this context, the pillars to make a difference seem to be, on the one hand, investment, in order to produce quality executive programs, on the other hand, the ability to rise quickly in the international rankings and, finally, build a strong brand “, concludes Cathy Alegria.

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