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Pluralsight CEO explains how its SaaS training platform can help close digital skills gap

Scott Carey | June 20, 2017
Pluralsight CEO Aaron Skonnard explains how the company is looking to close the technology skills gap with its online training platform.


Pluralsight CEO Aaron Skonnard

Utah-based startup Pluralsight is taking on the classroom-based training model for technology skills with its software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform, and its CEO Aaron Skonnard believes that it can close the digital skills gap in the process.

Skonnard, who spent five years at the start of his career teaching classroom based software development classes, says the Pluralsight platform needed to do three things to take this process digital: "You have content at scale, assessment capabilities and mentoring.

"Those three things together in a learning platform allows us to disrupt the classroom experience in a SaaS model that's more affordable, works across any industry and any technology learning need. So over the next fifty years we are going to continue to eat away at all of that classroom training space."

Pluralsight relies on a broad network of expert authors to contribute content and courses onto the platform across a whole range of technology areas. The best authors are well paid, with the top earner last year making more than $2 million (£1.6 million).

These authors also make up Pluralsight's mentoring network, who respond to requests -- essentially a user putting their hand up in class -- via video to work through a problem.

 

Breaking the enterprise

Pluralsight started life as an online training platform for software developers to hone and learn new skills like JavaScript or Python. It has since expanded into skill areas around modern day IT, like cloud computing, big data and cyber security, as well as digital design skills such as the Adobe suite of software.

As the company goes after the lucrative enterprise sector, Pluralsight has had to adapt and listen to its biggest customers.

Skonnard says that since it launched an enterprise version of Pluralsight a few years ago (£46 per user, per month), it has already acquired 40 percent of the Fortune 500 as customers, and he is listening to their demands.

Speaking to Computerworld UK at the London Stock Exchange, just before the Technology and Learning Leadership Summit on Wednesday, Skonnard said that enterprise customers have been asking, broadly, for four things: analytics, live mentoring, personalised learning channels and assessment capabilities. Let's break those down.

In terms of analytics Skonnard says that the enterprise wants to be able to "see what is happening, who is doing what, where the skills are now and where they will be a year from now. So they want progression and KPIs".

 

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