A Bridgend-based business has won lucrative deals with two of America’s household names in financial services and fast food, by using digital technology to provide busy clients with online access to executive coaching programmes.
Accolade Academy is using new coaching technology that helps it to deliver effective programmes while minimising disruption to the working day, in a move that has enabled it to compete with training providers in Canada and the USA, as well as across the UK and parts of Europe.
“Executive coaching and mentoring is far more developed in markets outside of the UK, especially in North America, so it is important for us to stay ahead of the curve, both in terms of the programmes we’re delivering and the way in which we are delivering them,”
explains Paul Rees, director and coach for Accolade Executive Business Coaching.
Delegates get more out of learning online
Previously, executives would have to absorb lengthy documents before attending face-to-face tutorials and executive development sessions in order to complete their programmes. But the new software allows them to engage with business coaches and mentors via ‘e-Forms’ and video-based interactions.
The strategic decision to move all programme materials from static PDF formats to a tailor-made interactive digital platform has transformed the business. It’s made communication with delegates more efficient and at the same time maximises their learning experience.
“Coaching clients now have the option to dip in and out of our custom-built programmes, sometimes spending as little as 15 minutes on a session,” added Paul. “Because the coach or mentor receives real-time updates on the progress made by individuals or different members within a mentoring group, they can also offer tailored support at the appropriate time.”
Potential for growth is enormous
As well as allowing Accolade to stand out from competitors, the switch to digital materials means the company continually improves the quality of its programmes by reviewing coaching performance and monitoring and measuring outcomes for learners. This bespoke approach has won Accolade Academy a major new client in the US State of Ohio to deliver a programme that “couldn’t have happened” without the new technology.
As the business continues to update its programmes, and move into new markets, the potential for growth is enormous. According to Paul, Accolade Executive Business Coaching is “a thriving Welsh business that is about to go huge,” with the new contract in Ohio predicted to help increase the firm’s annual turnover by up to 350%. It currently has five business coaches on its books, including one permanently based in the US, but sees the potential to double this number over the next three years.
“We’ve more time to invest in developing the business”
To support this ambition, Accolade needs to remain competitive, so it is exploring the use of other technologies that could add value. This includes new state of the art electronic writing tablets that allow coaches to hold virtual whiteboard sessions and provide instant updates to their clients; as well as other innovations as they become available. The company also sought help from Superfast Business Wales in its mission to maximise the potential of broadband-enabled technology, while maintaining the ‘personal’ approach that has served the business well since it launched in 2005.
“It is still important for us to retain a certain level of face-to-face interaction with the business executives; and we also hold regular meetings with clients to make sure our programmes are continually refined to meet their organisational needs,” added Paul. “However, the difference is that this now accounts for around a quarter of our interactions, rather than the 75% it did before, which not only makes the process more efficient, but allows us to invest much more time in developing the business.”
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