CloudShare Research

Part
01
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Part
01

Business Online Transformation

Early Findings

Companies from diverse industries are transitioning their business operations online using a variety of strategies. Some of these include offering online-only discounts, using platforms to provide online courses, delivering coaching services via livestream, channeling the budget usually used for in-person promotional events toward digital marketing, and making products available online at an earlier stage than usual.

Retail Industry

Film Industry

B2B Industry

Higher Education Industry

Health and Fitness Industry

Research Strategy

Primarily, research was undertaken regarding the initiatives taken to transition business operations online in a range of industries. Because many of these initiatives are very recent, it was not possible to directly quantify their success at this stage. However, where specific data was not available, industry-wide data was included, or research was undertaken to include the opinions of experts in each field in order to include the anticipated benefits of each transition strategy.


Part
02
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Part
02

Online Demo Adoption Rates

Due to the specific criteria of this niche request, we were unable to find data that addressed the US rate of adoption for online demos of software by sales teams. Instead, we provided adoption rates in the software space, as well as how online demos and training affect software adoption rates. We found that training drives software product adoption rates, with 68% of users able to use products as a result of online training. We also found that many software niches have an adoption rate of 54% and below. The limitations of our research are further discussed in the research strategy below.

Training's Impact on Product Adoption

  • Product adoption rates are affected by training. 68% of those who are trained to use a software product were able to use the product more, 56% were able to use more product features, and 87% were able to work more independently.

Adoption Rates Per Software Type

  • Less than 40% of customer relationship management (CRM) customers have end-user adoption rates above 90%
  • As of 2017, 38% of companies were running almost entirely on software-as-a-service (SaaS) apps. Still, 73% of companies predicted that they will be running almost entirely on SaaS apps by 2020.
  • As of 2018, business intelligence software has an adoption rate of 54%.

Research Strategy

To find out the US rate of adoption for online demos of software by sales teams, we looked for industry reports, scholarly research, as well as other industry research and studies posted on software sales and marketing blogs. We also looked for news items that may have announced results of surveys of studies on the subject. The majority of the content available was about data, studies, and tips on improving online demos by sales teams. Due to the specific criteria of this niche request, we were unable to find data that addressed the research question directly, so we provided adoption rates in the software space, as well as how online demos and training affect software adoption rates. As well, the specificity of the request prevented us from following the standard operating procedure of only citing sources that were published in the past two years. Also, while the studies and surveys cited above were all conducted by companies or organizations headquartered in the United States, they did not specify the locations of respondents or participants. We were also unable to find data in other regions that would allow us to determine or triangulate the rate of adoption for online demos of software by sales teams.
Part
03
of ten
Part
03

Online Training Adoption

US Rate of Adoption for Online Training for Businesses

  • According to data compiled by e-Learning platform Zeqr, in 2017, approximately 77% of US corporations used online learning. However, 98% planned to incorporate it in their program by 2020.
  • In 1995, 4% of American companies utilized e-learning, compared to the percentage in 2017, that would amount to an approximate rate of adoption of 3.3% a year (77% minus 4% divided by a 22-year difference). If we extend that rate out to 2020, the current level of utilization would be approximately 87% and then would be about 90% in 2021.
  • According to data from eLearning Industry that when an employer spends $1,500 per employee per year on training, they were able achieve improvements in profit margins of around 24%. The same data set also showed that for every additional $680 a business spends, shareholder return rises by 6%.
  • Data put forth by Shift Elearning shows that IBM saved over $200 million after switching from in-person training to online learning.
  • Within the corporate sector, elearning has grown about 900% in 16 years, between 2001 & 2017, according to research data by eLogic Learning.
  • Data has also shown the e-learning increasing retention rates amongst employees, anywhere from 25-60%, a vast difference compared to face-to-face, which only has an 8-10% retention rate according to Shift Elearning.
Part
04
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Part
04

Online Training Issues

Two major issues being discussed about online training for business are how to meed diverse learners' needs and a lack of interest in training by a large portion of the workforce.

Diverse Learners

  • One of the challenges of corporate online learning that is being discussed by most industry publications is the issue of how to teach diverse learners.
  • No matter how many people are learning, they are likely to all have different learning styles and preferences, especially since the current workforce is made up of three distinct generations, and the fourth generation is beginning to join the ranks as well.
  • It is tempting to create a one-size-fits-all online training course because that is the easiest way to do it, but not everyone will be able to grasp the learning objectives unless trainers "give employees the opportunity to pursue their own online training paths and focus on personal goals."
  • There should be a variety of ways in which the training information can be obtained, including video, written documents, and graphics.
  • Learning software should have an easy-to-use interface and all tools should be straightforward so that even those who struggle with technology can access the material.
  • Artificial intelligence (AI) can help personalize online training by pinpointing exactly where each learner excels and struggles to skip the material they don't need and focus on the information they do need.

Lack of Interest

  • Another major challenge for online corporate training is the lack of interest that can be pervasive across the workforce.
  • The cognitive, behavioral, and emotional parts of a person's brain must all be engaged or it results in "poor knowledge retention, passive learning and a lack of commitment contribute to challenges in training and development."
  • Companies will likely never get 100% buy-in from their employees when it comes to corporate training, but by providing them with "an interactive and immersive e-learning course that includes their interests and aligns with their goals," they will be able to see the value in the material.
  • Gamification of learning is one way that industry insiders suggest will increase motivation of employees. They can earn badges for completing modules and other achievements, which doesn't cost anything, but can be very effective.
  • Other experts suggest incorporating "case studies, scenarios, role-plays and relatable examples" into remote training materials because they are more relevant to employees and will increase retention. Discussion forums where employees can talk about the scenarios and examples can also help foster a culture of learning.
  • Microlearning is also suggested by industry publications because it has been shown that learning in smaller chunks helps with retention and motivation.

Research Strategy

These issues are considered major in the online training space because they are discussed in nearly every industry publication we found.
Part
05
of ten
Part
05

Online Training Adoption Obstacles

Though e-training of employees is proven to be an effective means of enhancing employee performance in large and small companies alike, many companies are hesitant to adopt the newest employee training technologies. Barriers to widespread adoption of e-training include the costs involved in the transition, which technology to choose and when, and concerns over lack of employee engagement.

Costs are Prohibitive with Uncertain ROI

  • While many chief human resources officers acknowledge the need for consistent re-skilling of employees, only 18 percent of "chief people officers" indicate they are prepared for the re-skilling of employees.
  • In many cases, the primary obstacle to adopting updated e-training systems is the cost of implementation, and concerns about whether the technology will provide a return on investment (ROI).
  • Training budgets are often limited, and company officials hesitate to install new systems because they perceive that the transition requires a sizable investment.
  • Beyond the cost of installation, business entities must also consider the cost of paying the employees to be trained on company time.
  • In some cases, the company is limited in its training options because it does not have a robust computer infrastructure, and the cost of buying a computer for every employee could be cost-prohibitive.
  • Even when companies do reach the point of pricing online employee training systems, the actual price tag of the system can be elusive. Because the online training business is fiercely competitive, salesmen will often delay the disclosure of exact pricing for as long as possible.
  • Some companies, especially larger ones like Walmart, use virtual reality and/or augmented reality to train employees. However, this form of immersive training is generally very expensive and not suitable for every business.

Technology is Moving in Fast Forward Motion

  • Though "chief people officers" are implementing artificial intelligence (AI) tools only at a gradual rate, the use of AI in employee training is expected to become more prevalent as it passes more "real world tests".
  • Around the world, many company executives are not employing AI in their training programs because they are not exactly sure what AI can do for them, a survey revealed.
  • Choosing a new online employee training system requires exhaustive research of many different types of learning programs, and then determining which one(s) are the best fit for the company.
  • In some cases, companies make the mistake of failing to thoroughly investigate an e-training vendor prior to signing a contract.
  • Another common mistake of companies in updating their employee training systems is failing to align the training content with job performance, which can generate inconsistent results over time.

The Human Factor

  • One of the most common factors cited for companies' hesitance to adopt online training for employees is that they are concerned employees are resistant to change.
  • Employees' time constraints are also another barrier to companies adopting an effective online training program.
  • Lack of interest among employees in participating in training is another challenge that companies face when implementing training programs.
  • Lack of resources to conduct adequate training of employees on new software can be another barrier to introducing updated training protocols.






Part
06
of ten
Part
06

Security-Minded Business Culture

Some best practices for instilling a security-minded culture in employees include the implementation of a zero trust policy and the restriction of company data to company devices.

Implementing the Zero Trust Policy

Restricting Company Data To Company Devices

RESEARCH STRATEGY

To identify some best practices for instilling a security-minded culture in employees, we read through industry expert platforms, industry news websites, cyber security analysis reports, technology company blogs as well as business magazines. These allowed for the identification of some best practices based on their listing as best practices in at least two sources.

Part
07
of ten
Part
07

Online Training M&A Activity

There is no quantitative data that highlights the level of mergers and acquisitions in the US online training and demo industry likely because of the niche nature of this industry. However, based on the difficulty in identifying these consolidations and the limited amount of relevant deals that could be identified in this research, it can be argued that the level of activity in this regard is 'apparently' little.

M&A Deals in the US Online Training and Demo Industry

  • According to Berkery Noyes' announcement in May 2019, INE acquired eLearnSecurity in an undisclosed deal. INE provides technical training for the IT industry while eLearnSecurity provides virtual labs and online cybersecurity training courses for IT Security professionals.
  • In January 2020, Monsterful VR, a virtual reality baseball company moved to acquire TrinityVR Technology, a company that provides virtual training and simulations to help athletes reach their full potential.
  • Market Brief announced in May 2019 that Renaissance had acquired Freckle Education. Freckle Education offers an online differentiation platform for educators "that puts them in control of targeting instruction and differentiating practice for students."
  • Moody's Corporation has recently acquired RBA International in March 2020, to extend the capabilities of its Analytics Learning Solutions. RBA is a leader in the offering of online retail bank training and certifications.
  • In May 2019, Pluralsight announced that it will acquire GitPrime for $170 million. "Pluralsight is an online training platform focusing on subjects like web development, IT certification and security training" while GitPrime is a dev team productivity tool.
  • In May 2019, 2U, an edtech company acquired Trilogy Education Services for $750m. Trilogy offers online training programs in coding, data analytics, UX/UI, and cybersecurity.
  • In October 2019, Dura Software acquired 6Connex, "a virtual events platform that allows users to host online training sessions, trade shows and job fairs, or to stream events such as a town hall meeting," for an undisclosed deal.

Useful Findings

  • According to the Institute for Mergers, Acquisitions and Alliances (IMAA), there were 3,656 and 435 M&A deals in the global software industry, in 2019 and 2020 respectively.
  • Between 2008 and 2018, "the industry with the largest number of transactions has been high technology — representing almost one-fifth of all deals (19.9%) with a total number of over 38,350 transactions."
  • Channele e2e provides a list of over 160 tech M&As that involves MSPs (managed IT services providers), IT consulting firms, cloud integrators, ISVs (independent software vendors), private equity and more that have occurred in 2020.
  • Crunchbase also provides that are at least 20 M&A deals that occurred in the US education tech space between 2019 and 2020.
  • "Technology continued to be among the most active subsectors for US M&A in 2019, with 1,138 deals announced worth a total of $206 billion."

Research Strategy

To provide the level of M&A and/consolidations in the US training and demo industry, the research team leveraged industry articles, market research reports, and expert opinions that usually provide information on M&As and industry trends. However, while we could find information and some trends, none of them covered M&As nor could we gather insights on the level of consolidations. Since M&As are usually announced to the public, we conducted a press scan through news aggregators to see if any offers insights into the level of M&As in the target industry but found only multiple M&A deals. We equally leveraged some databases provided by Crunchbase, Channele2e, and the Institute for Mergers, Acquisitions and Alliances (IMAA). However, while these are robust resources with powerful filters that would have easily addressed this request, it was challenging in narrowing down the results because the target industry isn't listed. The online training and demo industry is quite a niche and can only be assumed to fall within the larger categories such as edtech and software industries.

That notwithstanding, a qualitative approach we took was to gauge the level based on how many relevant M&A deals we could find within this research and then, possibly correlate it with the useful findings from available resources. With this, we could identify a couple of relevant consolidations, out of which we could provide only seven because of the limited and scarce level of information that forms the difficulty of identifying these deals. Based on this, we could surmise that the activity level is little because if there were a plethora of these transactions, it would be translated towards the high activity of consolidations in the target industry.
Part
08
of ten
Part
08

COVID-19 and Cloud Security

The speed at which companies have been forced to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic has left many of them vulnerable to attacks by threat actors who want to exploit the situation. This is because work from home is now the only option for many companies but it also comes with increased security threats to cloud services as many employees use insecure home Wi-Fi networks that provide a large target opportunity for cybercriminals.

Impact of COVID-19 on Cloud Security

  • Microsoft reported a 775% spike in cloud services demand due to the impacts of COVID-19 as users practice social distancing and as they work from home.
  • Demand for Microsoft's Windows Virtual Desktop usage has also increased by more than three times during this pandemic.
  • This increased demand for services from various cloud companies means that cloud security is now more at risk than ever before.
  • Generally, attackers are looking for vulnerabilities in network systems to deliver their attacks. In recent times, the attackers have focused on people's fear of COVID-19 as it makes them less careful about opening suspicious links.


Increased Threats to Individuals and Organizations

  • As companies organize for their employees to work at home and as students move to online classes, cyber-related threats have increased. Cybercriminals have ramped up their tactics to exploit individuals and companies that may have inadequate security postures.
  • Attackers are exploiting coronavirus-themed cyberattacks as people panic about the virus.
  • One example is a new phishing campaign which pushes fake email messages from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) informing people that COVID-19 has reached the location of the email user. The panic that users feel in such a situation prevents them from thinking rationally and examining whether the link is a legitimate CDC link or not. Once a user clicks on the link and provides their password, the user is sent to the threat actor and consequently encounters malicious action.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) has also reported that hackers are exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic by sending out fake WHO Whatsapp and email messages that trick users into clicking on malicious links. Because many people do not have the necessary safeguards for their cloud services, they can easily get convinced that this is a legitimate WHO site and consequently open these links and become vulnerable to attacks.
  • Kroll reported that as millions of Americans gear up to file their taxes online for a refund during the 2020 tax season, cybercriminals are preparing to infect and steal private information. By using online tax filing platforms as available resources, users are left vulnerable if cybercriminals have access to such resources. Most Americans are feeling the strain of COVID-19 so they might not be very cautious about the tax filing platforms that they may use in order to relieve their tax burdens at this critical time.
  • Domain Tools has also reported that there is a surge in domain names leveraging COVID-19 and coronavirus but which are actually scams.
  • For instance, a domain called coronavirusapp[.]site claims to provide real-time COVID-19 tracking updates and statistics via a mobile app download. However, once downloaded, the app which contains ransomware denies users access to their phones by changing their passwords. This compromises users' cloud security, particularly when they do not have effective protection mechanisms against hackers.
  • With more people are working from home and using collaborative tools such as Slack, Microsoft Teams and Zoom, cybercriminals are using these tools to gain access to enterprises because they realize that such spaces provide a wealth of information. This poses a clear threat to an organization's cloud security, particularly if the hackers learn about company processes from such spaces and then use the information to hack into organizational databases.

Increased Threats to Scientists Needing Compute Time

  • As scientists rush to perform tests that will help them find a cure or vaccine for COVID-19, cloud providers have pledged compute time for the researchers to enable them to work more swiftly.
  • For instance, Amazon Web Services (AWS) has given scientists free compute power and also pledged $20 million to support COVID-19 diagnostic research and testing. While this is an advantage for the scientists, it also opens up opportunities for cybercriminals to utilize such cloud services for their own benefit.
  • Google Cloud, IBM, and Microsoft Azure are also providing high-performance computing services to scientists working on COVID-19. Such cloud power therefore means that the scientists and other stakeholders collaborating with them face security risks unless they ensure that they are well-protected from cyber attacks.
  • The data scientists using machine learning and artificial intelligence tools to support research on COVID-19 also rely heavily on public cloud services. This means that they must secure these cloud services or else face cyber attacks that could compromise their research.


Research Strategy

We initially collected information from website articles, particularly those discussing activities in cloud services. Once we had identified relevant information, we used it to examine the threats posed to individuals and companies by increased cloud usage.
Part
09
of ten
Part
09

Online Training Influencers

The section below lists influencers with a high following on social media platforms such as YouTube, Instagram and Twitter. The influencers are selected based on the strength of their followers and are primarily from health and wellness related fields. All the influencers offer online training in their areas.

ERIC BERG

  • About: Dr Eris Berg is a ketogenic diet expert. He has authored two books 'The 7 Principles of Fat Burning' and 'The Healthy Keto Plan (Formerly The New Body Type Guide).' There are free courses on his website on a few topics, including ketosis and intermittent fasting. Paid members can access 200+ videos on how to lose weight.
  • He published 61 videos in the last month, some of which were live sessions.
  • YouTube channel name: Dr. Eric Berg DC | Subscribers: 3.6 million
  • Instagram handle: drericberg | Followers: 315k
  • Twitter handle: @DrBergDC | Followers: 5,707
  • Website: https://www.drberg.com/
  • Process and reason for the selection: Dr Eric Berg has one of the highest YouTube subscribers in the 'education' category in the US. The list of most influential YouTubers is sourced through an Analytical tool, HypeAuditor.

SCOTT HERMAN

  • About: Scott Herman is a fitness trainer and has developed several online courses on muscle strength and weight loss. In the last three months, he has posted many work-out videos on his Instagram and YouTube handles.
  • YouTube channel name: ScottHermanFitness | Subscribers: 2.4 million
  • Instagram handle: scotthermanfitness | Followers: 135k
  • Twitter handle: @Scott_Herman | Followers: 31.4k
  • Website: https://muscularstrength.com/
  • Process and reason for the selection: Scott Herman has a high social media reach in the 'training' category in the US. The list of influencers involved in training is sourced from Scrunch directory.

RUSSELL BRAND

WIM HOF

  • About: Wim Hof is a 61-year-old dutch athlete known for his ability to withstand extreme cold. He has developed the Wim Hof Method. The method is a combination of three elements: exposure to cold, breath work and a change in mindset. In the first week of April, he launched his new book 'The Wim Hof Method'. In March, he started a 40-day quarantine challenge, carried out an Instagram live guided breathing exercises, and lowered the price of his online courses. He held a retreat in Poland in January.
  • YouTube channel name: Wim Hof | Subscribers: 734K
  • Instagram handle: iceman_hof | Followers: 1.1 million
  • Twitter handle: @Iceman_Hof | Followers: 107.9k
  • Website: https://www.wimhofmethod.com/
  • Process and reason for the selection: The team selected Wim Hof from a list of influencers sourced from HypeAuditor. Wim Hoff is one of the top influencers engaged in training within the 'entertainment' category in the US.

RACHEL HOLLIS

  • About: Rachel Hollis is the founder of The Hollis Company and the author of a few books, including Girl, Wash Your Face and Girl, Stop Apologizing. She is a business, and life coach and her courses are available on her website.
  • In the last three months, she spoke on the RISE podcast on financial anxiety and ran a couple of 14-week challenge on living intentionally. The challenge includes weekly classes and offers free resources to assist people in completing the tasks.
  • YouTube channel name: Rachel Hollis | Subscribers: 162k
  • Instagram handle: msrachelhollis| Followers: 1.7 million
  • Twitter handle: @msrachelhollis | Followers: 70.7k
  • Website: https://msrachelhollis.com/
  • Process and reason for the selection: Rachel Hollis has a high social media reach in the 'training' category in the US. The list of influencers involved in any training is sourced from Scrunch directory.

RESEARCH STRATEGY

To identify top industry influencers in the online training and demo space, we used analytical tools such as HypeAuditor, Buzzsumo, and Scrunch. We used multiple tools to ensure our search was exhaustive but also, due to limits imposed with free access to the database. The tools are designed to help discover influencers by location, number of followers, the field of activity and follower engagement. We limited searches to influencers based out of the US. Besides, we ran a manual search on each identified influencer to determine if they offer online training.
Part
10
of ten
Part
10

Tech Investment Strategies After COVID-19

The COVID-19 crisis has severely affected different businesses across all industries. Experts predict that business technology investment post the crisis shall see an increased investment in IT infrastructure and also a higher investment in lights-out manufacturing, automation, and smart cities.

Increased investment in IT infrastructure.

  • The COVID-19 crisis has temporarily forced many employees to work from home, and this may have long term implications as it is highly unlikely that post the crisis office work shall resume the prior office-to-home work ratios.
  • Working from home, employees shall heavily rely on virtual video chat platforms instead of conventional business travels, meetings, and conferences, and thus having a robust IT infrastructure becomes critical for this purpose.
  • As per Mike Elgan, the post-COVID-19 world shall thus see lesser numbers of relatively expensive face-to-face interactions but higher numbers of low-costing electronic communications. This demands significant expenditure on IT infrastructure.
  • Mike Elgan is a writer and columnist associated with Elgan Media, Inc., and he primarily focuses on computing, IT, mobile computing, consumer technology, and culture.
  • The trend regarding increased investment in IT infrastructure post-COVID-19 is also predicted by Laura Starita, who believes that the IT infrastructure at an organization must be robust enough to keep the organization productive.

Higher investment in lights-out manufacturing, automation, and smart cities.

  • The global reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic shall compel businesses to reconsider their technology investment strategies and force them to make bold decisions to ensure their survival.
  • Stuart Carlaw is the chief research officer at ABI Research, and he focuses primarily on global technology markets while managing industry research content.

Research Strategy.

To find changes experts expect to see around business technology investment strategies after COVID-19, we searched business magazines, industry articles, consultancy reports, research and advisory firm reports, and academic research reports. These sources helped the research team in understanding the expert's expectations regarding trends in technology investment strategies post COVID-19, and the expert's background, interests, and profile were accessed by using publicly available databases like LinkedIn.
Sources
Sources

From Part 01
From Part 05
Quotes
  • "Yet only 18 percent indicate they are prepared to truly drive significant reskilling of the workforce."
From Part 09