Monday, November 22, 2010

GCP is Five Years Old!

This week, the GCP team celebrated our fifth anniversary as a company!

Not our fifth year working in e-learning and compliance training, not by a long shot. But five years ago, we incorporated Global Collaboration Partners LLC and acquired the training media assets of our former employer. Then we got crackin' on three fronts:
  1. Redefine the business model
  2. Expand the library
  3. Innovate the technology
The first step was a lot of work but a great joy: redefining the business model - for ourselves and for the people we hoped would use our training. We really wanted to make some revolutionary changes to how e-learning content gets bought, sold, and delivered to learners. We redefined it because we knew (from listening closely to client feedback, focus groups, lost sales opportunities, and our own intuitions about how WE like to access or acquire media) that we and much of the e-learning industry were doing it wrong.

We've written about it before, but a quick summary bears retelling. What was wrong was that vendors were guarding their content like it was The Sacred Texts of the Grand Wazoo. The typical scenario was (still is, for most vendors): the content provider rents access to their courses to a client for a limited number of learners, for a limited amount of time. The courses themselves are locked down securely under the vendor's control.

It's not a terrible idea to protect your intellectual property - it costs a LOT to develop excellent multimedia courses. But locking it up like that sure limits how people can use it, in ways that are critically important to companies, training managers, and the learners themselves. This model kills agility.

So our redefinition of how e-learning gets bought, sold, and delivered was all about freedom and trust. We trust our clients to use our training for its intended purpose, and not "steal" it by selling it or giving it to another company. We give them the freedom to use it in whatever way was most productive, effective, and efficient for them. Our way of selling and delivering content is so innovative, no one else is doing it. And it's so simple, I can tell you the whole story in two sentences.
  • We provide an unlimited, perpetual license that allows you to keep the courses forever and train as many people as you want.
  • We provide all the source files behind the finished, ready-to-run course so you can make any changes you want (and own the derivative work you create).
We're so smart! Our clients love it, and it's actually easier for us, at the same time that it's better for them. If we're renting limited access to learner seats, we're signing up for all manner of security, technology, and customer service issues that take time and energy away from important things like growing and improving our library and tweaking our technology. We usually end up taking no more than 10 minutes to answer a couple technical or strategic questions when a client is starting out using our courses. Then we don't hear from them again until they're ready to buy more courses from us.

More courses - our second front. In the five years we've been GCP, we grew our catalog from 76 courses to nearly 300. We added a Spanish safety library, an ADA-compliant accessible library, and a big collection of human resource development titles. We added a library of courses geared specifically for Environmental Health and Safety Managers, and another for energy exploration and services personnel. Most recently, we developed an immediately popular course on responsible alcohol service. And we're still building! Meanwhile, we annually scrub our content top-to-bottom to make sure everything is up-to-date and nothing is stale.

And circles within circles... our ears are always open, and we heard our prospective clients loud and clear. Turns out that hosted, off-the-shelf training is exactly right for some organizations! But very few companies actually need all the features of a full-on, "end-to-end enterprise-wide infrastructure solution" of a learning management system. So we developed our slim g-LMS - Global Learner Management System - to allow companies to assign and track training to their employees. At the same time, our Global Content Player allows the agility of delivery via LMS, company intranet, CD-ROM, and in the classroom.

Five years of growing and changing - through revolution when it's drastic and evolution when we're tweaking as we go - have brought GCP to a point where we can look back with pride and look forward with excitement about what we'll do next!

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