Mark enters his New York office. He puts on the virtual reality headset and starts his training session with the sales team of the growth startup from Finland. He asks participants to sit in a circle as if they were in his office and magically pulls up a flip chart...
This is not a passage from a science fiction novel. This is a technology, which will find it's way into the world very soon and dramatically impact the training industry. And it's not the only one. Below is the parade of the innovation we managed to spot in Panda, a company I co-founded recently.
Corporate training marketplace
In my previous article, I elaborated on the possibilities that a marketplace will open for the corporate education industry. Fair and transparent competition, unity and accessibility of the market will bring training, coaching and consulting industries to a drastically new level. In short: the difference is between having an access to 50 training professionals and 5 000 000 training professionals. Yes, literally that big of a difference. It allows clients to get higher quality with lower cost on demand with lower risks involved. Take a look to find out more.
Events & Conferences
Have you heard of Slush? It's Europe's leading startup event. It gathers 15 000 people from all over the world in the worst place you can ever be in November: Helsinki. When the snow is already there, and it's wet and nasty. They gather in order to learn, collaborate and create business connections. We believe there is a space for something like a European (or World) Training Congress as well. We believe that it's time for globalization to bring corporate education professionals together. Because why not? Only in Finland, we have 1 900 one-three men companies doing training, consulting or coaching. I bet they don't meet or share their knowledge too often. Imagine if they would have.
Would there be an interest for something like that? We think so. Simply because the best educators need to stay educated. In order to test our assumptions, we are launching the first initiative!
On 31st of October 2016, Panda organized the first Train the Trainer event in Helsinki. Being a trainer can be tough and lonely sometimes, that's why we want to connect all the trainers, consultants and coaches that are working in Helsinki area. Besides that, we hope to create a training community where people have the freedom to share their knowledge and become better together.
The value of the training industry is more than 300 billion dollars. Where is the professional media, which could act as the spotlight over the industry? Where is the "Trainer Daily"? There are some online magazines, yet they don't seem significant. The possible explanation for the underdevelopment of the training industry media is the dispersion of the market. Nevertheless, globalization might change everything and make this niche not only a possibility but a must. Why did we even think about it? Mainly, because if we want to bring transparency to the market. Since we want to bring collaboration and sharing of knowledge between different players, media seems like an obvious step.
Vertical social network
Everyone knows about social networks. And no one wants to hear about them anymore because there are clear winners: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter. They are for everyone. Lately, though a new term emerged: vertical social network. Vertical social networks are social networks specialized for certain kind of people. I.e. Doximity is a social network for doctors, Goodreads connects readers and Dogster is for dog lovers. We don't even know about them because many of them are very niche. As I mentioned earlier, one of the aims we have in Panda is increasing collaboration inside the training industry. Events and conferences are helping people to collaborate offline. We believe the vertical social network is a way to enable trainers, consultants, and coaches to collaborate online.
Big data analytics and open knowledge
People who liked this book usually also like these books. People who liked this movie usually also like these movies. People who liked this trainer usually also like these trainers.
This is the basic example of the big data analytics. If we would have a lot of transactions on the platform, we would have enough data to analyze what's happening in the industry, spot the patterns and even forecast the future. What do companies truly need? What are the new things trainers have to offer? And which of those new approaches withstand the test of product/market fit?
So, back to our New Yorker Mark. Virtual reality is an extremely exciting technology! It was around for quite some time, but it's still undefined where it could be applied. Entertainment and games? Not so exciting. But what about the training industry? It will literally dissolve any possible barriers in the corporate training market. Instead of working with professionals only inside our own country or worrying about high travel expenses, we will be able to think and act globally.
Right now these are only dreams about the far away future, something we might work on in 3-5 years. Imagine our excitement when last week the VR technology company got in touch with us. They told they have the technology and are interested in considering possible collaboration since we have the communication and adoption channel. I'm meeting them this Friday and hopefully, will have good news to tell you about!
The Vision Behind Panda
And guess what, this article could have also been called "The Vision Behind Panda". Right now we are focusing on building the marketplace, but all the six points mentioned above are definitely among our plans. Our aim is to unify the training industry, bring there more collaboration and transparent competition and these ideas seem to be well aligned with that goal.
Let me ask you this. Except those ideas, what is your image of the future of the training, consulting and coaching industries? And what are the steps necessary to be taken on the path to that bright future?
Dima Syrotkin, CEO at Panda Training Oy