Growing challenges has led to new ways of learning and forced trainers to get creative in the classroom, both virtual and in-person. Educators play a significant role in how new products and technology are learned and, ultimately, adopted in the marketplace.
By Richard Plant

The question is a simple one: Is training important? The answer, unequivocally, is yes. And in the world of mobility, it is even more crucial. Educating customers has become more important than ever in the last decade due to the advancement of technology and how it has increased the sophistication of tire products and associated digital solutions. Putting information, data, and insight in the palm of our hands has changed the game and how we learn it.

Now, more than ever, training customers has become a focal point—not an afterthought—for equipment manufacturers. Companies are employing teams of people to teach courses to dealers and customers and discuss how their needs can be addressed through each solution. Training platforms have been designed to explain each offering and how it may work with other tools that benefit the customer. An emphasis has been put on the execution of these platforms because they play an integral role in a company’s overall bottom line. Simply put, training has taken center stage.

Evolution of Training Platforms
Training platforms have evolved over the years and have forced trainers to adapt because of different factors. One obvious element is that not all products are the same and require different levels of training. For example, a tire and its ins and outs may be easier to grasp compared to cloud-based software that analyzes tire data that is gathered from your vehicle’s tires. Two vitally important pieces of equipment to a vehicle require two drastically different types of training. When it comes to product innovations, the time it takes to explain a product is especially lengthy. Over time, what may start as a two-day course later turns into a two-hour course. It is all dependent on how quickly businesses comprehend the information and industries adopt the new product.

Another major factor that impacts any training is where and how it is given. Decades ago, Instructor Led Training (ILT) was strictly done onsite or at a specified company facility. This is no longer the case. The advancement of technology in products and solutions has also invaded training platforms, opening doors to new methods. During the height of the COVID pandemic, Virtual Instructor Led Training (VILT) took off. Businesses and trainers could now meet at any time, regardless of where they were. The flexibility and accessibility of training allowed equipment manufacturers to extend their reach and keep customers informed. The reach extends even further with the advancement of other online learning platforms such as webinars, self-paced e-learning, and games.

Fast forward a few years and you will still find VILT courses widely used, but not as the sole method. Trainers realized people can still learn a great deal from getting hands-on training, especially when learning about equipment. Plus, one person can only take so many hours of online classwork and remain focused. This is why equipment manufacturers evolved to a more balanced approach of online and in-person training platforms and use the power of technology to enhance both. Customers can gain a more well-rounded understanding of products and solutions without losing interest or being inconvenienced. This approach has even grown to include more immersive online work to enhance focus, using technology such as virtual and augmented reality to make the training more engaging.

Key Message to Transfer
Let’s start with the basics. Equipment manufacturers must communicate how to use their products forward and backward. Knowing the details of each offering and how to maximize their performance will only improve customer satisfaction. Most entry-level training courses begin with this level of education and explain how they work in real-life situations.

As courses progress and training continues, manufacturers shift into how products work together and benefit the industry. Thanks to digitalization, connectivity between products has become commonplace. Tire manufacturers, for example, have developed suites of products that allow tires to work harmoniously with high-end technology. Fleets of all sizes can now purchase tires and digital tools that monitor the health of their vehicle’s tires and help manage fleet operations. Separately, each product can benefit a vehicle or fleet, but when combined, businesses can drastically improve operations and save money because they maximize the lifespan of each product. Understanding this holistic view of how products prevent downtime helps prevent red flags before they happen, which enables customers to spend more time on the road and less time on the side of it fixing a flat tire.

Training, A Competitive Advantage
Accessibility of data and technology not only has improved company offerings and led to better training platforms, but it also has increased industry competition. To put it simply, companies are making products better. Engineers at every business can take historical data to enhance the reliability, durability, and overall performance of their products.

Although the playing field has been leveled in some regard, it does not mean companies cannot find competitive advantages over their competitors. To revisit the tire industry, training has become a key competitive advantage that companies are leveraging to separate themselves from the pack. Tire manufacturers have found that dealers and customers who receive training feel more like a partner instead of another number on the company’s bottom line. Training also serves as a touchpoint long after the sale that allows companies to establish a deeper connection with their customers and over time, brand loyalty.

Training, A New Pillar of Business
Consumers are inundated every day on multiple fronts with distractions. The window of opportunity for teaching someone how to use something is rapidly shrinking and attention spans are becoming even shorter. As much as technology has advanced training, it remains one of its biggest competitors.

This growing challenge has led to new ways of learning and forced trainers to get creative in the classroom, both virtual and in-person. Engineers and developers usually dominate the innovation spotlight, but the glow of the light needs to expand. Educators play a significant role in how new products and technology are learned and, ultimately, adopted in the marketplace, and it is time we acknowledge that fact. | WA

Richard Plant is Executive Director of Product and Technical Training at Bridgestone Americas. Richard has been with Bridgestone since 2019, where he oversees product and technical training programs curated for customers in the Consumer and Commercial businesses. Prior to Bridgestone, Richard most recently held various roles at Royal Dutch Shell PLC and Shell Oil. For more information, visit