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It should come as absolutely no surprise whatsoever that we’re pretty big fans of open source here at Totara.

It’s the best, most strategic option for organisations that want to be prepared for whatever’s around the corner, whether that’s an acquisition, a rebrand, a change of business direction or something entirely different. It stands to reason, then, that we believe that an open source learning platform like Totara Learn is the right choice for organisations delivering learning to the extended enterprise, which might comprise resellers, third-party retailers or even the general public.

So what makes open source learning platforms the strategic choice for those creating learning for the extended enterprise?

A teenage boy painting a wall as part of a community project having taken extended enterprise learning

1. Scalability

When you’re designing learning for the extended enterprise, it is arguably much harder to predict how big your audience will be. For instance, if you’re delivering product training to resellers, your company could sign a contract in a month to add a new multinational retailer to your list of stockists, boosting your audience size by thousands of new people. If you’re a not-for-profit creating a public-facing anti-bullying programme, you may need to cater for hundreds, thousands or even millions of learners - it depends what the reach is of your learning programme campaign, and your benchmarked figures. Opting for an open source learning platform ensures that you are ready to deal with audiences of all sizes, as you can scale up and down seamlessly as soon as the need arises.

2. Flexibility

With a bigger and more varied audience comes the need for more features and functionality from your learning platform, than you might with an internal-only audience. The freedom of an open source learning platform means that you can customise your platform to support a virtually infinite range of learning needs. Plugins and APIs also mean that your platform will be easy to upgrade over time, and you won’t be constrained by the roadmap of your learning vendor - the ability to create the exact platform you need is in your hands.

3. Better value

Proprietary learning platforms can get expensive very quickly - especially if you’re catering to thousands or millions of learners. If there is unprecedented demand for access from outside your organisation, you don’t want to run the risk of going way over your allotted budget. Open source learning platforms have the benefit of offering much better value for money. On average, an organisation can save up to 80% of the total cost of ownership of an open source learning platform, compared to proprietary learning platforms. A recent report stated that over 43% of organisations have two or more learning platforms - often as a result of these solutions not being suitable for extended enterprise learning programmes, or business units separating their learning needs. This allows you to reallocate the money you would otherwise spend on expensive licences on creating great learning.

4. Tailoring the learning experience to your brand

Catering to an external audience means the look and feel of your learning platform must be on brand. Many proprietary platforms lack the flexibility to make the system look exactly how you want it to, whereas an open source platform allows you to customise things like fonts, brand colours, images, page layouts and much more quickly and easily. If your organisation decides to undergo a rebrand in the future, it will be less expensive to tailor your open source learning platform to reflect your company’s new brand experience. Depending on the skillset of your internal team, having access to the code can allow you to make the tweaks you need to keep your platform on brand, or, when in doubt, your certified Totara Partner can help you make those changes if you need an extra helping hand.

5. Respond quickly to change

Designing learning for an internal audience is one thing, but delivering that learning to audiences outside your organisation is an even bigger challenge. Think about the following scenarios: what if your organisation wants to start targeting resellers in a different part of the world? Do you need to start thinking about language packs and how readily available are they? What if you need to broaden the reach of your platform - do you have the option to create several different audience-based learning programmes on one learning management system? What if you decide to join forces with another organisation to deliver content to a particularly niche audience that requires an ecommerce LMS plugin? An open source learning platform gives you the freedom to respond quickly to business changes both inside and outside your organisation, meaning you won’t be left playing catch-up months after something changes.

Find out more about creating learning for extended enterprises

Download our free guide to discover how extended enterprise learning can help you gain a collaborative advantage and drive results.

Those are just some of the many reasons why open source learning platforms make sense for extended enterprise learning solutions. In fact, our CLO Lars Hyland recently explained how and why open source is leading the charge when it comes to shaking up the status quo.

So the question is, are you ready to embrace the freedoms? Get in touch to find out how Totara can support your extended enterprise programme.

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