Big Opportunities for B-Schools in Exec Ed Market

Many employers are turning to alternative providers for executive training—but more would consider b-school exec ed programs delivered in shorter, more stackable formats.
Big Opportunities for B-Schools-in-Executive Ed Markets

IN 2017, the global market for online learning was valued at US$255 billion, according to corporate finance advisory group IBIS Capital. But higher ed captured only $17 billion of that amount-less than 7 percent of the market. Why such a small fraction? One reason could be that organizations want access to training that's delivered in shorter, more flexible formats than many business schools offer. That's according to a new report about the state of global executive education from CarringtonCrisp, a U.K.-based education marketing firm.

In fact, just 28 percent of the individuals surveyed say that their firms turn to business schools for training and professional development. Twenty-one percent note that exec ed training that their organizations had purchased from business schools in the past had had no impact on their organizations. And 29 percent say that other providers simply offer programs better suited to their development needs.

"Learning design needs to change massively," says one respondent. "It needs to help people do their jobs more effectively in the moment. Shorter periods of learning are just as impactful as three-day training courses." Another notes, "Programs used to be one week. Now they are one-hour lunches over several weeks. Programs need to be stickier to take hold in these shorter time periods."

Digital providers such as Coursera and Udacity have stepped in to deliver very short-format educational experiences. Among respondents, 36 percent report having taken courses on Coursera and 35 percent on Udacity.

The report also singles out a newcomer, the Emeritus Institute of Management in India, whose revenues were expected to reach $40 million in 2018. Emeritus has invested heavily in using artificial intelligence and predictive analytics to offer adaptive learning options that are more responsive to student needs.

The report highlights the most popular topics of study for exec ed students, such as strategic marketing, communication, leadership, risk management, and productivity. However, gaining in popularity are topics such as growth and scalability, resilience and mindfulness, digital transformation, and social impact.

The good news for business schools is that the exec ed market will only continue to grow, with 51 percent of employers surveyed indicating plans to increase spending on training. While many respondents turn to alternative providers, 56 percent agree that "business school faculty have a wealth of experience not often found in consultants."

B-schools can tap their faculty's experience and pedagogical strengths to tailor options to market demand, says Andrew Crisp, founder of CarringtonCrisp. "If people come out of these programs with the qualities employers want, that will drive the market forward," he says. "Outcomes will be key."

Schools that don't deliver desired results, the report warns, "could miss out on many of these opportunities in the new executive education marketplace."

Read the full report: "Executive Education Futures: What Next for Business Schools, Learners and Employers?"