How The Linux Foundation Scaled Its Training And Certification Mission

How The Linux Foundation Scaled Its Training And Certification Mission
Summary: The Linux Foundation moved off a homegrown learning system, customized its eCommerce, and scaled into a multimillion-dollar revenue source. Moving to Thought Industries, the Linux Foundation was able to integrate disparate elements into one platform and grow their business.

How The Linux Foundation Achieved 50% Revenue Growth With Thought Industries LMS

The Linux Foundation is a global non-profit trade association that connects a community of coders dedicated to advancing "the value of shared technology." It brings together more than 19,000 contributing companies via 400+ open-source projects to make up the largest-ever investment in open-source technology. The foundation also provides free education to women and other underrepresented communities and millions of dollars in scholarships to ensure an industry that's diverse and open to all who are interested. Half of their members and learners are in Asia, with content provided in Japanese and Chinese.

Key to the foundation's mission is training and certification, a multimillion-dollar revenue source that has grown 50% since its launch in 2020.

To meet their growing training needs, the Linux Foundation upgraded in 2020 from a mix of homegrown and external systems to an integrated enterprise learning platform with Thought Industries. The fast-growing team had a complex use case, providing a mix of online and in-person training courses, videos, labs, written materials, and certification exams for companies and individuals delivered globally via hosted and white-label services.

The Thought Industries platform has helped the Linux Foundation scale to support:

  • Online training for more than 300,000 professionals worldwide
  • Over 200,000 certification exams administered
  • Registration and sales of tens of thousands of courses on Cyber Monday, generating nearly $1 million in one day
  • 50–100 authorized resellers and training partners who resell Linux Foundation training
  • Customized content development and distribution using Thought Industries' multi-tenant solution, Panorama, for their partners and authorized resellers

Thought Industries' native eCommerce functionality allows the Linux Foundation to package their learning and certifications for B2B and B2C audiences, as well as direct and indirect sales channels.

"We run a very large affiliate program for eCommerce, and it's several million dollars a year in revenue from affiliate partners directing traffic back," said Clyde Seepersad, Linux Foundation's Senior Vice President for Training and Certification. "We do direct eCommerce marketing and lead generation, and we have a sales team dedicated to B2B sales and freemium offerings. We also offer free subscriptions to companies that are members of the Linux Foundation as part of their membership. They get a 50-person learner subscription at no extra cost as part of their membership benefit. And then we upsell to those customers, which is another important revenue stream for us."

The Linux Foundation has built a dedicated team of specialists who work with expert instructors and experienced developers to create training courses for every experience level. Originally, their training was entirely in-person, but by moving online, the Linux Foundation has been able to serve a much larger global audience and offer their members and learners choices on how they want to learn.

The group also creates certification exams that demonstrate a developer's open-source skills to potential employers in a trusted, verifiable way. The foundation's catalog features more than 125 courses, covering topics ranging from system administration, application development, and containers to IoT, DevOps, AI, and blockchain.

Creating such a complex learning business required customization that was not possible with their homegrown platform. "From the day we launched, we heavily customized the landing page and eCommerce experience via our Panorama instances," says Seepersad. "Our team is excited because the Thought Industries platform allows us to have a lot more control over the user experience. If we want to change the user experience post Cyber Monday because there's a crush of new people coming in, and they're not so familiar with us, we can make the experience super simple for the next 30 days. That's something we couldn't do with our old system."

Using a headless platform gives the Linux Foundation control over the aspects of the learner experience that are most important to them.

"Our certification workflow is extremely complex," says Seepersad. "It's not a widget that you simply buy and consume. You have to buy it, you have to schedule it, you have to check your ID, you have to do a system check, you have to schedule the time for the exam, turn up at that point, and follow a set of exam policies. There's a lot of nuance to how we present those products. Thought Industries' core product gets us most of the way there, but we now have access to their headless framework, Helium, to customize where we need it. Our team is really excited about that."

eBook Release: Thought Industries
Thought Industries
Thought Industries powers the business of learning by providing the world’s leading B2B customer education and external training platform.

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