Featured Member -- SwissVBS
Article provided by Dr. Christian Metzger, Senior Manager at SwissVBS
"Tell me, and I'll forget. Show me, and I may remember. Involve me, and I'll understand"
-- Chinese Proverb
In the early nineties, a small group of forward thinking professors from the University of St.Gallen sat down to talk about the impact of technology on the future of adult education. They discovered that the new generation of professionals worked demanding jobs and had limited time to further their education even for professional advancement. These professors sought a solution that would provide time flexibility, convenient access points, and interactive learning tools in order to offer busy professionals an opportunity to advance in both their education and career. The answer came from a fledgling field that had begun to gain popularity amongst educators and students alike—it was called eLearning. Online learning could provide education “anywhere”, “anytime”, and while the professors were agreeing that this was indeed the education of the future, the eLearning revolution was beginning.
"E-learning is becoming a commodity. Companies are looking at E-learning programs like a stapler or reams of paper—it's just one item in their inventory."
-- Clark Aldrich, Gartner Group
In 2001, Swiss Virtual Business School (SwissVBS) was formed as a spin-off of the University of St.Gallen that would provide “applied learning solutions”. Its first product release was a twenty-hour online module in strategic management. This was well received and proved highly successful with executive managers. Soon, the curriculum expanded to include courses in the areas of finance, accounting, and marketing—followed by the evolution of customized programs that created the option for learners to work towards university certification by using blended learning approaches (a combination of online learning and in-class lectures). As more and more institutions began to incorporate eLearning into their teaching models, SwissVBS sharpened its focus on customized corporate training solutions. With the aim to provide companies with fully integrated online learning solutions, tailored to meet clients’ specific needs, SwissVBS’ global reputation as a high-end web-based-training provider grew along with a distinguished client base.
From early on, the concept of eLearning promised great potential for growth and in 2010 the industry was conservatively estimated to be worth more than 38 billion Euros worldwide. Online learning’s original promise to create a more convenient and flexible path to formal education, constantly grew its value to fulfill a multitude of objectives in other industries. During research for a globally situated client, SwissVBS discovered that a key issue for the insurance industry as a whole was their inability to retain a large percentage of salespeople beyond the first year of employment. The dropout rate was staggeringly high and the cost of training these employees, only to lose them shortly after was creating an expensive cycle of loss. Ironically, in later interviews, many of these ex-salespeople reported that a primary reason for their departure was that they felt they had been poorly trained and were ill-prepared to sell insurance on behalf of the employing company. During sales training, instruction inconsistencies, inability to customize training to accommodate varied learning styles, and inflexible learning pace can dramatically affect retention and learning outcomes. Here, conventional teaching methods alone were unable to cater to varied individual requirements and capitalize on the desired performance results.
“The ability to learn faster than your competitors may be the only sustainable competitive advantage”
-- Peter Senge, Fifth Discipline
Enhanced human performance can have other critical effects on organizations as well. Strong pedagogical techniques consistently lead to better training, and in turn, to better business practices. A clear channel that delivers a consistent internal message across a whole organization creates employees who have the established proficiency to achieve a competitive advantage for a company. As an added benefit to many corporations, eLearning enables learners to develop or practice some of the technical skills and competencies that are essential in many digital working environments. Most corporations are focused on developing strategies that will allow them to control any negative effects—or benefits—of organizational change. One key to coping with change is to ensure consistency across all of the company’s implementation processes—from public service communications to compliance training. SwissVBS has been instrumental in providing clients with dedicated programs that can fulfill their variable strategic training mandates, along with the flexibility to update content as necessary.
“We strive to provide our clients with a mechanism to capitalize on human performance and master organizational change.”
Through SwissVBS’ adherence to high standards of pedagogical integrity, creative conceptual approaches, and cutting edge media—it has managed to attract some of the brightest and most talented individuals to perpetuate its unique thought- and technology leadership. Today, SwissVBS’ expertise in creating highly effective and globally relevant educational programs has found new applications in the international business world. Organizations, such as Allianz, Deutsche Bank, Holcim and World Economic Forum, have recognized the value of SwissVBS’ customized solutions in the interest of lowering costs and increasing accessibility. The success of SwissVBS’ approach to management education and customized solutions gave way to expansion into North America, so as to better serve international clientele, resulting in the launch of a production facility located in Toronto, Canada—a known centre of eLearning.
“We can offer our clients ten years of experience in Management Education and Customized Solutions, as well as a bottomless reservoir of top talents and minds”
As the eLearning industry has grown and expanded, SwissVBS has accumulated knowledge and expertise in the sectors of banking, insurance, healthcare, and compliance training. The founding professors still serve as members of the Board of Directors and regularly engage other highly respected professors from Wharton School of Business, INSEAD, and University of St.Gallen in the evolution of SwissVBS’ offerings, as well as the architects for the company’s ongoing development and expansion.
“SwissVBS is pushing the evolution of eLearning—leading through the use of superior pedagogy, avant-garde technology and cutting-edge media.”
Keeping teams up to speed with advances in information, essential skills, and compulsory industry updates is a constant requirement in an increasingly competitive corporate environment. The sophistication of the product grows with each leap in technology, and SwissVBS’ courses utilize dynamic 3D, video, and Flash-based media to deliver world-class instructional design. In line with its origins, the company continues to push the evolution of online learning, optimizing the communication of pedagogical concepts in its bid to better engage the world’s learners.
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