Corporate University, SaaS University

Saas University or Corporate University: Which is Right for Your Company?

Let’s say you’re considering whether to create a SaaS University for your company. At this point, you’re well versed in the intricacies of what a SaaS University is, and what it can do for your company – as well as for your customers. Before you create a SaaS University for your company, though, you’ll need to consider a few questions.

Mainly, who, exactly, is your company’s online university geared towards helping?

Seriously. Who are you hoping to attract to your company’s online university, and what are you hoping to accomplish with its construction? Given the answer likely isn’t “everyone in the world,” refining who comprises your university’s student pool can ensure you’re maximizing its potential – and not wasting time going down the wrong path.

So who is the target audience for your company’s university? Is your company looking to offer a plethora of potential capabilities and certifications to anyone – including internal employees and external customers? Or are you only aiming to assist your company’s employees, developing their skills for your company exclusively, and offering solely in-house training opportunities?

If it’s the former, your company will indeed want to consider constructing a SaaS University. But if it’s the ladder, your company may want to consider building a Corporate University instead.

Ensuring you understand their precise differences is crucial to choosing the right one for your company. So before we discuss how to choose which works best for you, let’s ensure the distinction between the two is crystal clear.

SaaS University vs. Corporate University: What’s the Difference?

Perhaps you’ve heard of both types of university, but the specific differences between the two have eluded you. While neither is a ‘university’ in the traditional sense, of course, both SaaS Universities and Corporate Universities provide an organized outlet for your company to educate and train eager participants.

So how do these two types of online universities differentiate from one another? Let’s take a look!

A SaaS University:

  • Aims to help customers with skill acquisition and training (whether associated with your company or not)
  • Designed to offer unique capabilities to external consumers
  • Mainly for use by software or SaaS companies
  • Often used as a tool to build or retain an overall customer base
  • A customer-focused approach to company growth
  • Publicly available and easy to access or learn more about
  • Can be free to use, or available only to paying customers

Think about the plethora of training and course offerings by, say, Hootsuite or HubSpot. These companies offer courses and certifications to help customers maximize their professional potential, particularly in an increasingly digital and remote environment.

Meanwhile, a Corporate University:

  • An exclusively internal training program
  • Solely for a company and their employees, not for customers
  • Used to teach your corporate culture to employees
  • Precisely organizes your in-house training portal
  • Provide professional growth opportunities designed to help the company
  • Usually private, with public or external access highly restricted

Think about Hamburger University from McDonald’s, or Apple University from, you guessed it, Apple. These Corporate Universities are well known to the public, but are only accessible to internal, in-house employees. In fact, since Corporate Universities often involve revealing trade secrets and insider information about a company, their details and internal mechanisms are highly secretive, and withheld from the general public.

As you can likely see, the difference between the two types of online universities is fairly straightforward. Now that you understand how they differ, the next step is determining which type is best suited for your company.

Which is right for you: SaaS University or Corporate University?

While this isn’t hard and fast by any means, a good rule of thumb to consider before constructing your online university is whether you’re looking to help train customers, or your employees. Once you know who your online university will be tailored towards, you can make the right decision for your company about which university to construct.

If your goal is to help customers advance their professional skill sets– with the underlying goal of building and retaining a customer base for your company in the short and long term– a SaaS University is probably the best bet.

But if you’re only interested in providing opportunities for your company internally and your employees, you’ll likely want to invest in the creation of a Corporate University.

Additionally, before constructing your online university, you’ll want to keep in mind what your company does, and what it offers overall. For example, while we at SaaSUniversities would love to imagine our services are for every…single…company in the world, the fact is that not every company should consider a SaaS University.

Frankly, if your company doesn’t create and offer software or SaaS, you may not want to consider a SaaS university at all.

Take McDonald’s, for instance. When you think about what McDonald’s does as a company, and the services and products they offer, the existence of their Corporate University makes perfect sense. But would it make much sense for a fast food restaurant like that to create a SaaS University? To be perfectly honest, it probably wouldn’t.

After all, the specific ways McDonald’s runs their restaurants and overall business aren’t necessarily transposable to other companies or professional fields – nor is McDonald’s looking to offer industry-specific skills and knowledge to potential employees for other companies or restaurants.

The bottom line comes down to who you hope to help with your company’s online university, and what your company produces and offers as a service.

If you’re a software or SaaS company, who’s hoping to help external customers and consumers develop skills and professional certifications – individuals who don’t work for your company, and most likely never will? Then your company should look into constructing a SaaS University.

But if you’re not a SaaS or software company, and the only goal for your online university is to exclusively help your company’s employees and internal stakeholders in developing company-specific skills? Well, a Corporate University may be best suited for you. 

Once you’ve clarified who and what you want to help with your online university, you can make an informed decision on which type to construct. Clearly, both can be immensely important and valuable resources for your company, and contribute positively to your company’s bottom line.

There’s no right or wrong answer for which type of online university is better; it simply comes down to identifying your company’s needs and goals. Once you’ve accurately nailed down who and what your online university is for, you can be confident you’re on the right track from the start.

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