Blog Post

Customer Education Needs More: Introducing the Intellum Framework

Vicky Kennedy
November 3, 2021

Intellum has been an innovator in the corporate education space since we launched the world’s first cloud LMS in 2000. Over many years of working with some of the largest companies to deliver their educational programs at scale, we recognized a pattern in the structure of the most successful programs.

In 2019, at Intellum’s IXS conference, we unveiled the first-ever corporate education playbook that outlined the must-haves to achieve success. Over the following year we gathered input from the sharpest minds in the industry and refined the playbook, which became known as The Intellum Methodology™.

The Intellum Methodology for Customer Education Strategy

The Intellum Methodology includes eight strategic thrusts that make up a successful customer education strategy:

1. Business goals
2. Audience strategy
3. Resources
4. Content strategy
5. Delivery strategy
6. Marketing strategy
7 Measurement
8. Application

It’s important to note that these eight strategic thrusts aren’t chronological; you don’t need to finish one to begin the next. They co-exist and overlap, much like sales, marketing, and customer success.

The most successful customer education programs display mature execution in each of these areas. We’ll briefly look at each one:

  • Business goals: Educational initiatives should tie back to specific, measurable, relevant, and achievable business goals. Additionally, it should be true that education can effectively influence the desired goal.
  • Audience strategy: Successful education program developers understand their audience, including segmentation and learner personas. A learner persona is not the same as a marketing persona; it includes learning-specific information such as learner goals, challenges, and motivation. 
  • Resources: Educational initiatives require skills such as education strategy, learning experience development, and instructional design, in addition to project management, marketing, and technical/engineering support. Successful programs have dedicated resources to support these functions.
  • Content strategy: The content must directly support the learner goals and business goals to be effective. There should be a purposeful content structure (curricula), relevant taxonomy, assessments, and a feedback loop. 
  • Delivery strategy: Content is only as good as the delivery of the content. The delivery strategy should consider the end-to-end learning journey. Essentially we need to get the right content to the right learner at the right time in the right way.
  • Marketing strategy: Education marketing is a discipline in and of itself. The educational program should be treated as a product, requiring a Go-To-Market plan as well as engagement and re-engagement tactics. 
  • Measurement: There are three levels of measurement for any education program: engagement, content efficacy, and business impact. The most successful programs are reporting on all three and demonstrating business impact.
  • Application: The audience has been identified, the content delivered, and the performance measured. Now what? Application is the final piece that ties all of the learnings back to the original business goal(s).

We were quite excited to discover such a valuable methodology. We began sharing it with all of our clients and interested parties. Soon, though, the question of “How do I apply this methodology?” began rolling in from all angles. There was no question that the methodology made sense, but what was that next step in moving it from theory to practice? 

Moving from Theory to Practice

When you first look at the methodology, it appears fairly straightforward. You need a business goal, an audience and so forth. However, that line of thinking assumes a one-to-one ratio of all items: one goal, one audience, one content type, etc.

Anyone who's worked in corporate education knows that's rarely, if ever, the case. We’re generally working on multiple goals, reaching many audience segments, employing a variety of content initiatives, delivering via multiple modalities, and measuring results using many different metrics. 

The challenge is further exacerbated when we consider that often, especially in larger companies, many individuals across different teams are working on education initiatives. This may include an internal learning and development team, a product training team, customer success education, partner certification, and so on. We also found that it was quite common (and generally recommended) for all of these teams to use one education platform to deliver material to their audience. 

Now if you have many goals, audiences, content types, modalities, and metrics—and many different people working on education initiatives—there’s only one way to apply a holistic methodology while keeping stakeholders aligned: use a strategic framework.

The Birth Of a New Framework

Every successful organization employs a strategic framework to align the business around a central strategy. If you’ve never been in a corporate planning or strategy role, you might wonder, what is a strategic framework? HDI succinctly defines it as ​​”a structured method used to define how a project or initiative supports the key objectives of stakeholders.” 

There are a number of popular frameworks out there, such as the balanced scorecard, the VRIO framework, and the Ansoff Matrix. They all have unique uses and different ways of organizing initiatives. For example, the Ansoff Matrix is also known as a product/market expansion grid and is best used to grow an existing business. The VRIO framework, on the other hand, is used to analyze existing internal resources toward developing a competitive advantage. 

What these frameworks have in common is their ability to capture all of an organization's activities, strategies, and goals in one central map that can be used to align key stakeholders across the company. Do you see where we might be going with this?

The most common strategic frameworks focus on an organization’s overall business strategy. We found, however, that education strategy is a bit nuanced and doesn’t fit perfectly within any existing framework. So, we developed our own. 

Introducing The Intellum Framework©

The Intellum Framework stems from our own methodology. But while The Intellum Methodology is theoretical, The Intellum Framework is practical—it allows you to actually get the work done. 

The Intellum Framework helps you build your customer education strategy by looking at it from three perspectives: 

  1. From the perspective of your goals
  2. From the perspective of your audience
  3. From the perspective of your content

Many companies hyper-focus on the content piece but fail to tie content back to the other strategic thrusts. Then they’re forced to try and make the data tell a story after the fact because they failed to set the right goals at the start.

The Intellum Framework solves this problem as the output is a visual roadmap that shows exactly how to align all stakeholders around the education’s anticipated business impact.

Ready to dive in? Take The Intellum Framework Course.

In The Intellum Framework Course, you’ll complete three worksheets that capture your organization’s educational initiatives from three perspectives: goals, audiences, and content. 

Then, you’ll map everything together on a fourth worksheet to tell the story of business impact. Ready to conquer your biggest customer education goals?

The Intellum Framework course is here. Let’s walk through it together! 

About the Author

Vicky Kennedy headshot
Vicky Kennedy
Chief Strategy Officer
Vicky has a passion for merging the demanding needs of corporate environments with the skill of effectively educating adult learners. She's most nerdy about strategic approaches to education in the workplace.