Man working at laptop
eLearning Learning
January 15, 2024

Offering Training to Deliver Value Externally

Educating external audiences presents some unique challenges compared to internal, employee training. In this interview, Thought Industries CEO and Co-Founder Barry Kelly discusses the complexity of pricing strategies, the importance of brand continuity, and the need to use the right LMS to support learners outside of your organization. 



Show Notes:
Thought Industries CEO and Co-Founder Barry Kelly shares best practices for creating learning experiences for external audiences including the following: 

  • External Training Complexity: Providing external training for distributors, re-sellers, and customers requires understanding their unique needs, languages, and currencies.

  • Learning as a Competitive Differentiator: Businesses can provide training as a competitive differentiator by using training to distinguish their product or service from other providers. 

  • Monetization Strategies: Organizations need to decide whether training is included with their product or service or whether their training has the value that enables them to charge extra for it. 

  • Critical Differences in External Learning Management Systems (LMS): There are many distinctions for an LMS for external learners including the possibility of e-commerce tools, integrations with external systems (CRM, content management, etc.), front-end mechanisms for content promotion, and the robustness required for handling large-scale external learning operations.

  • Brand Continuity and Learning Experience: The importance of brand continuity in external learning experiences takes center stage. The quality and reflection of brand values in every aspect, from content delivery to personalized targeting, has become critical for success.

Download The State of External Enterprise Learning Report 2023
Read Barry Kelly and Daniel Quick's book, Customer Education Playbook
Learn more about Thought Industries

Powered by Learning earned an Award of Distinction in the Podcast/Audio category from The Communicator Awards and a Silver Davey Award for Educational Podcast. The podcast is also named to Feedspot's Top 40 L&D podcasts and Training Industry’s Ultimate L&D Podcast Guide.



Susan Cort: To drive engagement and increase learner proficiency online learning experiences should be modern, intuitive, and scalable, whether they are for internal or external audiences.

Barry Kelly: So in the internal corporate learning technology, you're integrated with the HR system. Well, that changes significantly when you get into external. You need to be connected to, gateways, tax systems. You need to be connected with CRM systems, content management systems. You need to be connected with all of the virtual training tools, certification engines, their list will sort of go on and on.

Susan Cort: That's Barry Kelly CEO, and Co-Founder at Thought Industries. Barry explains the differences and similarities between internal and external learning and shares advice for making enterprise learning successful for the organization and the learners - next on Powered by Learning.

Susan Cort: Thanks for joining us, Barry.

Luke Kempski: Yes. Welcome to the podcast, Barry.

Barry Kelly: Thanks so much.

Barry Kelly: Appreciate you having me. Thanks.

Susan Cort: () [00:01:00] Barry, to get us started, tell us a little bit about your background and also about Thought Industries.

Barry Kelly: Yeah, thanks so much, um, yeah. My name is Barry Kelly. I'm a Co-Founder and CEO of Thought Industries. Uh, we've been in business for 10 years. We actually celebrated our 10 year anniversary in September uh, this year, which was a really fantastic milestone.

Susan Cort: Congratulations.

Barry Kelly: Um, thank you. Yeah, very. You know, it's been a really, really you know, I suppose rewarding 10 years. I learned a lot. Um, and I think, you know, working in the company that's moved through many, many stages, um, you know, you're challenged, but, but ultimately, you know, it's been a really in incredible, uh, experience over the years. Yeah, uh, just to give you a highlight on the company, we're. um, what we would call an external learning technology company. Uh, we focus exclusively, um, with organizations that are, one, educating their customers their partners or ecosystem. Our number two, are organizations. Where their core product is training or education, and we provide, you all of the technology required to help them create [00:02:00] and deliver highly compelling learning experiences and content, and then help them to deliver um, monetize and scale that learning globally. Um, so there's a lot into that. We'll probably get into a lot of that today, but that's been our sole focus. We don't do any internal, you know, corporate training, uh, directly. Um, so, you know, we focused, uh, exclusively as an organization on helping organizations, um, you power, as we say, power the business of learning.

Susan Cort: That's close to the name of the podcast, Powered by Learning.

Barry Kelly: So, yeah. Yeah, absolutely.

Luke Kempski: Yeah. Well, uh, excited to talk to you, Barry. Yeah. And congratulations on 10 years. Um, I know you you, you, cover an area of corporate learning. Um, there's been traditionally referred to as extended enterprise learning and, um, it's kind of seems to be evolving to external learning, And it's been an area that we've been in a lot with d'Vinci. A lot of our clients, uh, come to us to help solve challenges around delivering external learning. [00:03:00] So why don't you take a minute to just kind of distinguish between internal learning and external learning.

Barry Kelly: Absolutely. Um, you know, I, I think when we started the, our company 10 years ago, the world didn't need another LMS, that's for sure, there was 400 or 700 of them around in various different forms and I think we saw a very, very specific need for organizations that were delivering learning to external audiences. It's sort of like when you turn that LMS around to face the outside world, uh, the hubcaps come off and all these other start to happen, and so it requires very different set of technologies in terms of the term that's used. I think maybe somebody in some LMS company 25 years ago decided that anything that wasn't happening internal, it was now gonna be called extended enterprise. So not really sure where that term came from. It's term that's used in the industry, maybe by analysts and those of us that are kind of referring to segments of the market. But I don't think the [00:04:00] individuals that are buying this software or becoming partners with companies like us know that term.

Luke Kempski: I agree.

Barry Kelly: For us, agree , yeah. so, you know, we don't use it a lot. Um, and I would say, you know, for us, a very simple way of just explaining it is that is exactly that. This is for learners that are external to, you know, the internal corporate organization. Um, so again, customers, partners, distributors. For formal organizations, and then also organizations as we said before, whose core product is learning. So enterprise training companies, um, professional continuing education organizations, associations, these are all organizations that are delivering learnings to essentially, an, you know, an external customer.

Luke Kempski: So Barry, I know you work with a, a range of different types of clients. If you could talk a little bit about businesses specifically who are using who external training for their sales channel, training sales people or distributors or anything around their sales channel.

Barry Kelly: Yeah, [00:05:00] absolutely. I think, you know, that's where the real definition, I suppose, of external enterprise is. So these are the individuals at the organization that, um, you know, who are benefiting from understanding your product and being able to, you know, deliver that. And in the sense, and I suppose if we, we have to kind of take those constituents maybe, um, you know, each one independently for a second. If we take a distributor, for example, these are organizations are partnered with your company who are either reselling your product, supporting your product or maybe even creating or co-developing, uh, technology with you or products with you. So those individuals need to be trained, certified, re-certified. Um, they need to be enabled if they're in the sales position. They need to be able to, they enable to sell and understand the product. Um, you know, a very, very specific level of detail. Not only how to use the product, but also how to sell it, but then also how to leverage the. product for value. Um, so these distributors, again, they're, um, some [00:06:00] organizations have, you know, many, many, many distributors. maybe those organizations are delivering, um, you know, and selling in different languages. They're using different currencies to monetize. Um, they all have, uh, slightly different needs in terms of the ways that they want to be able to, you know, be connected to that, to that organization. So again, there's a lot of. nuance to begins to, start to happen there. There's certainly internal, you know, enablement, you know, so like for an organization, like ourselves that has a sales team, you know, we need to constantly be able to train and enable them to be able to get out and sell our product or support our product. Um, so that's a little bit different. Obviously than, you know, your standard compliance, you know, internal compliance learning. or, uh, that's happening at an organization.

Luke Kempski: Uh, specifically for like distributors where there might be, you might be competing with other suppliers that are being distributed by the distributor. Uh, how can, how have you seen businesses use training as a kind of a [00:07:00] competitive differentiator?

Barry Kelly: Oh, yeah. I mean, we see, I mean, this is at the core of what we do, right? The whole concept is that, you know. lever, you know, leveraging, learning to improve, one one, learning can be used in, in both of these situations, right? Learning is number one, just like directly monetized. So for an organization where learning is the core product, monetization can be really important. And the core, you know, value for the organization. Outside of that, when you start talking with distributors or customers, learning in that sense is being leveraged to enable, you know, your customer base or your, or your, uh, distributor base, um, to be more productive for you, right? So there's certain KPIs that are associated with those organizations' performance and learning is a critical part of that, whether it's at the beginning of the relationship where they're being onboarded, um, or whether that's like ongoing engagement, um, you know, where you're trying to help them, you know, be more competitive and do a better job. You, you're also, it's a two, it's, there's sort of a two ways, of, you know, you guys are very familiar with this, but you know, [00:08:00] it's the, it's the input output, right? So you're getting feedback from the individuals that are engaging and learning, it's gonna help you determine their understanding, their proficiency and their performance, you know, around the, the end goal. So it's a very, very powerful medium that can be used to kind of understand the heartbeat of, you know, uh, how your ecosystem is performing as well.

Luke Kempski: You mentioned monetization. So how do, how do you find that organizations decide, you know, whether to offer their training for free or whether to kind boost sales or whether to charge for it and actually make money. And how do they decide like how to go about charging for the training?

Barry Kelly: Yeah. Um, that's unbelievable question -  probably uh, a four-hour episode, actually, you know, if we if we were to get into it. I mean, um, you know, pricing in general and charging and packaging is such complex thing for any product, right? So again, when you put it, in the context of learning it, it, it certainly is no different. Um, I, would break it down like this. I think [00:09:00] organizations, like we said before, where the core product is learning and majority of those organizations are doing that, or the majority of their learning will be monetized. right? So if you're licensing, you a particular training, uh, program into, you know, corporate organizations, right? So maybe you're a leader, lead uh, leadership training, or you're a sales training organization and you're licensing your content to these corporations, or you're selling direct, right? The sort of a B2C, um, you know, monetization's gonna be really important how you monetize. And we could get into all the different ways that that happens, you know, it's pretty set in stone. These organizations are in business of  a building high margin learning business. So they're looking at pricing, they're looking at competitive forces. They're looking at, uh, the value of the product, the value of the outcomes. And all that stuff is working. So there's a, you that, that, that that sort of works that way when you start to think about the corporation and the organizations that are leveraging learning, you know, to impact other business metrics. So they may be using [00:10:00] it to impact time to value as a new customer coming on board they may be using it to get better product engagement or the adoption of new products. They may be using it to bolster lifetime value. They may be using it as a marketing, you know, strategy, right? They may be out generating leads by putting learning content into the universe. Um, those are, you know, at a certain point, organizations can continue on that path 'cause they're getting the value outta it or they may decide at a certain point. We see this a lot with, um, organizations, software companies, manufacturers, where they begin to consider monetization being another opportunity to sort of build a p and l. I would say in the software context, software companies in growth mode are using learning to, um, to, to grow their KPIs, improve net retention, improve retention rates, improve time to value, When they move into profitability and EBITDA world., they're like, where else can we find some revenue? They may begin to start to look at, you know, monetizing revenue. uh, or monetizing training, monetizing [00:11:00] certification programs, those types of things. So yeah, it's fascinating whole concept and, you know, we, we could start to get into some of the fundamentals of pricing, but that, as I said, that'd be another four hours. But um, no, it's the, it's, a area where I'm really passionate about. We. When we founded the company that one of the first technologies we built was eCommerce tool connected to learning. So we've been heavily involved in learning monetization for, for that period of time. And, and in, you know, in my career I was heavily in monetizing learning before that, so it's a real passion of mine.

Luke Kempski: Yeah, I would think that eCommerce would be a clear delineation between a company or an LMS That's specifically for internal training, and for employee training versus external. Uh, are there other requirements, that are, are, different, are that are common when you're looking at an LMS for external learners?

Barry Kelly: Oh yes, my favorite question, um, yeah, I could go [00:12:00] on about this for hours as well. I mean, I think the reason why Thought Industries is exist is is specifically because of that, right? I mean, I, you know, I was in the shoes as an individual leading a learning organization inside a, a corporate organization, and looking to find ways to find the right technologies to help me build a learning product, monetize it get it to scale. And everything I looked at in the market at the time was designed to be, you know, sort of a point solution for internal training. So when you start to think about the, you know, where these things diverge, um, there's a lot of areas. I think, you know, as you mentioned, number one, commerce, if you're in monetization, not everyone does it, but it's a clearer area. It's important. Uh, that's complex piece of technology and logic in and around monetizing anything, right? Uh, whether you're selling or learning, uh, learning no different, right? So, e-commerce tools, people are looking to optimize the selling movements of their organization helping to improve conversion rates and [00:13:00] checkout flows and subscriptions and all those other types of things. So that's a place where we see a lot of difference. Uh, the integrations of external learning is very different. So in the internal corporate learning technology, you're integrated with the HR system. Well, that changes significantly when you get into external,. You need to be connected to, as we mentioned, gateways, tax systems. You need to be connected with CRM systems, content management systems. You need to be connected with all of the virtual training tools, certification engines, um, their list will sort of go on and on, we we, are, we integrate with, you know, customer support software, Zendesk, for example, right? Because that's an important part of the ecosystem for our customers. So you have a much more, a, you know, real long tail of critical integrations that are important for people when again, you point the learning externally. Um, I think, um, other areas really important are kind of the front end mechanism of a website, right? So with internal learning, there's just a dashboard. You [00:14:00] turn up, you click your course, you go with external learning you need to be able to merchandise deliver, create catalogs of content, promote content, um, also give people, uh, lots of options for registrations, coupons, all the ways that they enter and find content that becomes really, really different and, and, a whole host of other things. We get involved in multi-tenancy, so content licensing, content syndication, just the very fact that yeah, when you're dealing with the external word, our customers are selling, monetizing and delivering learning 24/7/365 millions and millions of concurrent users at any minute in time. If you're doing an internal learning program and it goes down for a half hour in the afternoon, well no biggie. You know, your employees will come back in an hour and hop up. No, that's not gonna happen when you know, 7 million people. are entering, you know, uh, you know, buying credentials. So the infrastructure, the scale, the security of all of this information , has to be incredibly robust. And then [00:15:00] I suppose the last part is reporting. You know, if you're reporting internally, you're reporting on customer, on learner outcomes, right? Engagement in learning. Uh, when you get into the business of learning, you're reporting on traffic conversion rates, you're reporting on finance. You know, monetization. Um, you have to provide insights. Um, there's a whole host and a much more vast intelligence that's required, um, you know, to, to give people the information they need to run the business. So, um, it is very significant. And I will say, you know, in our market there's, \there's been plenty of what I would call generalist learning management systems since yeah, we can do customer education or enterprise, um, and, um, they, they find out very, very quickly that that when they really, when the organizations really begin to scale, that, that becomes very, very difficult to serve. And it creates a lot of stress on their roadmap. So, you know, for us, we've been so supremely dedicated to this, these use cases that, you know, [00:16:00] we're, we're fortunate that we just don't get distracted by the other noise. So yeah, it's a, it's a fascinating area and you know, on the surface that everybody, you know, understands 'cause I think, oh, an LMS. yeah, I can do this. But, you know, trust me, when you, when you begin to put it into operation, you'll, you begin to find out where those shortcomings are.

Luke Kempski: Yeah, we can, we can relate to everything you just talked about in terms of the customizations that, that we've had done around, external learning in a variety of situations. I think the other and I think the area that we see is kind the importance of brand and. the learning experience becomes elevated in a lot of ways when you're creating training that's gone through your sales channel or going straight to customers where it's, you know, designed to be you differentiator in the marketplace. talk about how important that is brand and the quality of the learning experience and really the whole user experience through the LMS.

Barry Kelly: Yeah.  I appreciate you bringing that up because it is, [00:17:00] you know, um something that certain times can be overlooked. I know when, when we started the company like, l you know, sort of brand customization for an LMS was like, put your logo up in the top right. And then, you know, just deal with everything else that's there and that's just not gonna cut it. You know, if you're, you know, and we work with, you know, fortune, you know, fortune five companies, you know, where and and beyond with these organizations where, you know, brand is absolutely critical. So brand continuity, not only in just the way it looks, but in the continuity of the user experience. So, um, I think that's really important. We talk a lot about, we use the word highly compelling learning experiences, you know, um, honestly, we just got through compliance training at, you know, uh, at our company and, you know, you just gotta muscle on through... end of story, that's just, that's your job. And, I certainly learned a lot along the way. But when you are providing content to your customers, know, out into an ecosystem or you're monetizing learning the quality [00:18:00] of that product is, is so, so critical. Um, and it's gotta be reflective. It has such a reflection on your brand. And in all in, in this case, in these cases, all of our customers exclusively are developing their own IP, right? Because they're either are the owner of, you know, training. You know, or, or a training product or training philosophy or, you know, um, they're training their customers on their own products. So, it's really important that that brand continuity is, uh, in every single pixel from the, you know, from finding content to the dashboard and how we personalize and target content to individuals to the experience that they have. And, and you know, when we talk about learning experiences, we're talking about an article, right? We're talking about the most short form object you can imagine, right? To be unblocked, to multi-year instructor led program, blended programs, and everything in between. So we're thinking what sort of experience is somebody happening when they're joining a virtual training? What are the, what's actually, what's pre and post [00:19:00] learning, like before they turn up in a physical place? What's the online experience? What's a microlearning experience? What's a video? Like all of those things are going to have, you know, are gonna be reflections of your brand. And so that becomes incredibly important.

Susan Cort: Barry, many of our listeners might, uh, design and develop learning experiences and maybe interested in moving from employee training to external training. Is there anything that you'd recommend that they learn about this to enter this part of the training industry?

Barry Kelly: Yeah, you know, it's been really interesting. Um, I think I remember being at, a, we may have talked about this before, but. I, you know, I, um. I was at a conference about eight years ago and I walked in a room and I was surrounded by, L&D professionals who do exactly that we're, we're involved in internal training. And I said, look, you know, in the next five years someone in marketing's gonna come tap you on the shoulder and go, please help. We're trying to educate our customers, our dealers, our distributors um, and, you know, we're not sure what to do. And, you know, we've seen, you know, a lot [00:20:00] of individuals kind of move, um, around the organization. I will say one thing that has not changed is that I, it's very rare for you to see someone that's kind of sitting on both sides, right? It's, actually probably non-existent that someone that is in the internal L&D team is working on the external learner at all, or ever. Um, so I think, you know, number one is you kind of wanna make a decision where, where you wanna be. You know, I think when I think about it like this, all the fundamentals are there. Like, you know, instructional design and content creation is such a critical part of this. It's actually the product, right? So, you know, we're always on the quest to find the best, the people that are creating the best learning experiences and the best products.

Barry Kelly: And, you know, if you have those particular skills, they're all very, very transferable. I think the part that needs to be learned is really understanding the distribution and the delivery.

Susan Cort: Yeah. The scale of it all.

Barry Kelly: The scale that changes. Um. And, and being, I mean, you know, being really receptive the data that's coming back at you, [00:21:00] the iteration, you know, when they're, you know, and not to use the word use, go back to monetization again, but like when there's something really important on the line and not that the, the, internal learner isn't, but like when there is a, an agreement between an organization and, and an individual, whether they've purchased this learning or they need this learning in order to be able to get business value, you have to be, you have to move very, very quickly to make sure that you have those impacts. And you also, you know, the budgets, um, you know, that are deployed to these types of organizations, you know, are, you know, can grow very, very quickly and aggressively, or they can be retracted if you're not getting the value. So really understanding that. I think the other thing is to be really in tune with this company's strategy at the time, , I get asked this question all the time from, from people in the industry. You know, what should we be doing and where should we be focused and should I be focused on onboarding or should I be doing this and that and the other the, the, the true fact is that you have to be so attuned [00:22:00] to the strategy of the company at time. Understand what the annual goal is the quarterly goals are. If there's OKRs or another type of management framework, be attuned to that and figure out how learning is going to have an impact on those particular metrics. That's how organizations focused on the external learner are become so vital and so critical to the organization. So that would be my, my suggestion for everybody. But again, you know, we've see people in, in the organizations either come from customer success, customer experience, they're, sometimes they're product managers they get really interested in, in the learning side of things. or they are, they've come from, you some, some internal L&D, um, or organization to to to transition. And everyone, you know, that we've seen like does, you know, performs incredibly well. So, you know, it's a great, great, uh, you know, if you're looking for a change or you're looking to, you know, um, you know, learn some, some new skills or a new way to do things, um, you know, it's cer certainly a growing, growing [00:23:00] area of focus in, in the industry.

Susan Cort: Good advice.

Barry Kelly: Yeah.

Luke Kempski: Yeah. Uh, switching gears a little, Barry, could you tell us little bit about Thought Industries Academy? Uh, what is it and where does it fit in your overall LMS solution?

Barry Kelly: Yeah. So, um, we, you know, obviously we have, we've been talking about our technology, um, for, for, for a while. And, I, and i, it is again like has all the tools we've been talking about, the ability to create content, the ability to deliver, customize, multi-tenant, uh, monetize if you want, report, integrate. So, you know, all of those components are there. Um. But you know, we, we also have to educate our own customers, um, who who use our product and who are being onboarded to our product. And so we've built our own internal academy on our own technology. Um, fact, um, last year we released, um, uh, a product called Helium, which is our headless, uh, learning management, uh, infrastructure and technology, which allows you to fully customize [00:24:00] any front end learning experience in any any shape or form. Um, and so we've built you. know, our Academy on Helium, so that we can create a highly customized experience. And that academy is also presented, um, it's embedded in our, in our software application as well. So you can click a little drawer and it slides out and you can engage in, you know, um, learning content right there and then. So yeah, you know, we look across the customer lifecycle. Um, we use our academy to help people get them unblocked. If they have a problem, we help 'em get onboarded. You know, we help them get certified. Uh, we help them with all the new features they're getting rolled out. Um, and we have a whole host of different types of, um, programming that's happening on demand programming. We have office hours, weeks, which is a cool way for our teams, you know, our customers to come and meet the experts at our company. And they kind of, we just literally, they throw up a whole bunch of use cases and we, unpack those and and we archive all those and videos. Um, and then we're creating all sorts of other stuff along the way, so, yeah. It's a, [00:25:00] it's a critical part of our business, much like anybody else's.

Luke Kempski: It's great and it's, um, it's a model for your customers in the sense that

Barry Kelly: Yeah, I hope so.

Luke Kempski: created that

Barry Kelly: hope so.

Luke Kempski: solution for yourselves.

Barry Kelly: Yeah.

Luke Kempski: I know, uh, Thought Industries does a State of External Learning report, and, um, you did one fairly recently. Um, what are some of the insights and trends that you see in that latest report?

Barry Kelly: Yeah. Um, you know, it's been a it's been as a software company, we're very fortunate that, you know, we're able to do this. I think, um, um, as an individual in this industry, you Uh, there's been times where I've been fumbling around for information that's so, that's more curated and specific to, you know, what we're doing. Um, there's a handful of really fantastic analysts out there that, you know, cover this. John Leh in particular, Craig Weiss and a handful of others. Um, there's also, Adam and David, the C Labs that cover customer education. And so they, um, know, these are individuals that sort of understand the market really well. But for us, [00:26:00] you know, we, about two and a half years ago, established what we call the learning strategies team at our company so that we could kind of fill in the gaps, right? We could do the research we needed to help inform product development to help us bring more specific, uh, best practices to the market, uh, so that individuals could and our customers could leverage that. And, um, from that has come, you know, the, these annual reports I think it was our fourth or fifth report this year., in terms of the data, um, some of the things we pick out, there's been what the beautiful thing is that, uh, when we look at it over the number of years are the, the, um, benefits of external learning have increased, right? We're seeing growth in a lot of critical areas. I think one thing we talked a lot about monetization. I think in 20 21, 43% of the organizations that we were, uh, polling were, were monetizing it's up to 61% in the '23 report, so really great, um, you know, progress there. We also have a bit of 50 -50 breakdown between [00:27:00] organizations that are cost centers to organizations that are either break even or, you know, are, profit centers for organizations as well. So starting to see more organizations kind of get into, um, what we would say in Ireland wipe in their own face, right? Like ability to, to fund their own growth and, and do those types of things as well. Um, I think some of the things on the, the like and ab absolutely. you know, that have persisted from the very beginning. Um, you know, the number one thing that people call out every time is as the most important thing is creating a quality learning experience, right? That has. Has, uh, absolutely been at the top of the list for these organizations time and time again. And, you know, and the trying to drive, you know, more innovation to diversify the, the types of learning that are being delivered to personalize them, to streamline delivery. So that has, you continued, uh, to, to, to, be the number [00:28:00] one area. I think on the other side, the, the, the, other thing that's popped out, which is is good news and bad news, is that people are still struggling to get the analytics to prove the value. Um, and I would say the reason for that, is that a lot of the, the the connective tissue between the, the, uh, performance of learning in the external ecosystem, the proof of the, uh, of that impact is, is being delivered in other technologies or in other, you know, in other databases, right? So time to value is being tracked somewhere else. Um, you know, net retention rates and things like that our customer lifetime value is being realized in other ways that's being fed back into the, you know, the, uh, learning management system. Um, there are. and, and so there are gaps in those things. Product adoption, product engagement. These things are slightly separated and we've been working quite a lot on, on, well, first of all, you know, we work with organizations who are, uh, using our, [00:29:00] uh, business intelligent connector to kind of extract real time learning data and, and, and basically, uh, you know, merge that with all of their business analytics so that they'd be, begin to see the connection between the educated customer and outcomes.

Luke Kempski: Mm-Hmm.

Barry Kelly: That's improving. Um, but I think overall. you know, these organizations still continue to struggle with how do they measure, the impact they know it's working, but, you know, what does that roll up look like for the c-suite? uh, when you're getting there. So those are some of the things that, you know, have popped out, um, along the way, but cer certainly we're getting a lot more. visibility and there's a lot more information and data in the market with regards to kind of external use cases, which is good news.

Luke Kempski: Yeah, we hear, hear that from just about every guest on Powered by Learning. That measurement and data are definite challenges for them. And them. uh, it's always like we're working on it. It's not like that's, that's a project that's ever done. Uh, I guess talk a little bit about 2024. What, what, kind of things do [00:30:00] you see evolving and and how do you, uh, need to evolve as Thought Industries to kind of meet those evolutions that you see?

Barry Kelly: It, it's, gotta be the most exciting time to be in this industry, ever. I'm not just, could I say that every year? Of course, I could. Um, but I'm gonna, this, know, we're about to have. And there's gonna be a step change like no other. we're about to, we're about to, you be disrupted positively, in the most significant way in the history of this industry. Um, so not to be controversial, but it's coming. Um, And, you know, i, i, think, you know, there's a lot, a lot of this conversation is centered around AI and I I think it's gonna have a large, you know, part to. do with some of this stuff for sure. Absolutely. Um, but I think, uh, like, you know, I was talking a little bit about this. We do a conference every year called Cognition and part of my keynote. we were talking a little bit about, you know, how these natural language models and, you know, how open AI is, you know, is really, [00:31:00] you know, creating whole, uh, stream of technology that's gonna help us do very, very new things. know, the, the ability to communicate with an interface there's technology and everything, Right. I think there, there's, there's, there's chips and clothing now, right? So, um, you know, there with the natural language communication, we're going to be able to tell products what to do with our voice, with our commands. So, you know, what we start to see is we start to see user interface, the importance of user interface beginning to erode, right? Because the, the, the instructions to. Uh, get an outcome are going to be basically. uh, commands from humans, right? So when you start to think about that, you have to learn less about how to operate a piece of software. You can tell it what to do and it can understand what you're asking it to do, well, then it can also execute the task, right? So we're gonna start to see that change, and that's a positive thing. I think on the, on the other side, that gives us time to sort of step away from product education and get into [00:32:00] customer education and distributor education, which is like, hey, how do you leverage the product to have great business outcomes? How do you be a better business person with these technologies and let them enable you? I think the other thing is that, which I'm most excited about too, is um, obviously content creation. We're already building AI into our product and we're able to write courses and build, write paragraphs and make images and get insights like literally with these commands. It's, it's incredible. what's possible, but I think what I'm really excited about is how how and we're gonna see what we would call like ultimate personalization. I think, um, technology's gonna allow us to understand, uh, the learning profiles, um, and the learning nuances of the individuals, which I think I'm a big advocate for. I wasn't a great, I wasn't great at school, uh, sitting, being spoken at , at so, you know, I think I've got a very, very particular learning style that works well for, me. And again, like if you know, our, if technology is truly understanding us, what it is going to right? These machines learn real quick. [00:33:00] Um, it's going to help me understand when to learn how to learn in the moment of need in a much more powerful way than I ever did before. And so we're gonna see lots of learning aids and tools. We're gonna see, content and delivery of learning experiences be totally dynamic to the, the way that individuals interact with them. So I mean, that's, and I'm, I'm not talking about, you know, 2029 here. We're talking like 18 months, right. We're, the stuff is changing. We're already seeing it in, in video, like video, it's blowing my mind Synthesia are doing some incredible stuff. Bongo video. All these companies are doing these incredible things with AI which, you know, and I, and I think, you know, my, my, my message, I suppose to all of those in the industry going, you know, hey, you know, where are we gonna be cut outta the loop here in terms of, you know, learning content creation. I think that never goes away. I think curation is so, so important. Um, I think understanding, I think our advice is like really understanding these technologies, you know? because immediately a [00:34:00] content and a course creator can be multilingual, you know, have exceptional grammar, all of these things, right? That, that were difficult to do before. Um, you know, great artists, all these things. If we can leverage these tools, we can focus on what's really important um, we can have more time in our day to do those. And so all that stuff's coming. It's coming real fast and, and um, you know, I think there's a lot of other, you know, is where our focus a lot of times too is like, you know, we're gonna see learning the browser's gonna become, you know, I wouldn't say insignificant, but you know, we're gonna be learning on, you know, lots of other devices and in lots of other ways. Um, you know, that. we're in places that we're not learning today. So, which is really exciting.

Luke Kempski: No doubt and we're, uh, gonna see more scale and more personalization. I think those are definitely, and, uh, in that, are opportunities for all of us.  So great to talk to you today, Barry.

Barry Kelly: Yeah,

Susan Cort: Exciting times. For sure. Thanks for sharing your insights. Barry Kelly, co-founder and CEO of Thought Industries. Thanks for joining us.

Barry Kelly: Appreciate it. [00:35:00] Thank. you guys.

Susan Cort: Luke. That was a great conversation with Barry about the evolution of external learning.

Luke Kempski: Yeah, it was really good to have a guest who focuses exclusively on external learning. You know, there really are a lot of differences when you're either developing learning solutions for employees versus developing learning solutions for organizations. You know, they have, uh, the organizational learning could be for customers or for vendors or distributors or association members. And then you have all kinds of different opportunities like e-commerce and customer relationship management, CRM, different kinds of registration and membership requirements. There seems to be like more APIs and external integrations. You have tech support and customer service. You know, the list goes on about different variables that you have with external learning versus training for employees. And I know a lot of work, our work at d'Vinci is for external learners, and we see higher expectations for the learning experiences we develop for [00:36:00] them and more branding and marketing considerations, which of course we welcome. I know some of our clients, like Stonex for instance, they do training for their customers and other people who are involved in trading commodities. We also have like P-A-V-T-N, who focuses on training for law enforcement officers and those law enforcement officers are employed by dozens of different municipalities and other kinds of government entities, and we have SCORE. They're educating volunteer mentors for small business owners.

Susan Cort: Mm-Hmm.

Luke Kempski: And even uh, Constellation Brands, they provide education to servers and restaurants who recommend their wines to customers. So you really, you have different requirements, different opportunities with external learners, um, and everything that's involved with all those organizations. it was really great to talk to with Barry about Thought Industries and their solutions, which of course are totally focused for, the learning leaders who are focused on external learning.

Susan Cort: There's certainly a lot to think about, [00:37:00] a lot that goes into that external learning, but also some nice similarities to internal learning as well.

Luke Kempski: Absolutely.

Susan Cort: Well, thanks Luke, and special thanks to our guest, Barry. Kelly, CEO and Co-founder of Thought Industries. If you have an idea for a topic or a guest, please send us a note at And don't forget to subscribe to Powered by Learning, wherever you listen to your podcasts.


Luke Kempski

By Luke Kempski, CEO

About Us

d'Vinci Interactive is an award-winning comprehensive learning solutions provider for corporate, government, medical, non-profit, and K-12 target markets.

Ready to Connect?

Contact us today to start the conversation. We work with you to find innovative solutions that drive a sense of shared accomplishment and trust.