Two key aspirations underlined the decision to commercialize ANZ's online learning expertise: growth and differentiation. The ANZ works hard to differentiate itself from its three main competitors through value-added services and aims to exploit its strong base of intellectual property wherever and whenever possible. Mahoney says while a lot of the products ANZ offers to its external client base may have little product differentiation from offerings of its competitors, being able to assist organizations with their online learning initiatives can differentiate its tender.
"These ideas [growth and differentiation] blended with the desire to enhance the ANZ brand in the community and generate additional revenue," explained researcher Kaye Schofield in a case study into ANZ's Online Learning Initiatives published by the Australian Centre for Organizational, Vocational and Adult Learning. "What emerged was a plan to help corporations and the wider community through providing online training on a just in time basis."
And so the decision to expand ANZ e-Train to corporate clients was born. Launched in mid November 2000, e-Train was jointly sponsored by the group general manager for human resources and recently retired former CIO David Boyles as part of the bank's e-Transformation program. It proved highly successful, generating approximately 18,000 course completions in its first six months in the more than 400 online programs on offer, ranging from compliance training to a full MBA. By the end of its first year, 23,000 staff had accessed ANZ e-Train programs and there were predictions around 175,000 training hours would be delivered online each year. That success quickly attracted a range of admirers among ANZ corporate clients, inspiring the notion of extending the service to that customer base, complete with value-added services. In June 2002 the ANZ launched ANZ Online Learning Services to satisfy those clients.
ANZ Online Learning Services delivers consultancy services in implementation of online learning, troubleshoots existing online learning implementations and also provides implementation services for online learning. It also offers a learning management system delivery mechanism for providing training courses and training management to a client organization. And finally the product set includes course content, from "white label" or generic courses to courses sourced from external vendors ranging from business professional development to IT desktop-type training and training around risk management and compliance - an increasingly popular part of the product offering. To ensure those clients' e-learning initiatives are successful, the group has developed a successful risk management strategy for clients, focused on making those clients' businesses work.
Mahoney says the bank's unusual move into the e-learning business, which continues to surprise some observers, was inspired by the frustration of some clients struggling with their own online learning initiatives.
"We get comment all the time to the effect that this doesn't really sound like a core thing that a bank should do, but it has actually been born from ANZ's success internally in implementing online learning," he says. "We had a fairly high profile, so a lot of organizations were approaching us when we successfully implemented online learning, asking us how we made it work when they were struggling. Through a lot of those discussions we had with other organizations - who weren't necessarily all in the finance sector - we realized that there was an opportunity to be able to build a business out of that."
And build a business it has. Over its first 12 months the bank has successfully delivered online learning to tier-two finance sector clients as well as organizations outside the financial sector.
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