For many in the “Open” side of learning technologies, there is a constant debate, often of existential proportions, between making EdTech universally accessible and financially sustainable. But while pretty much everything has been written about business models, tiers and the role of freemium in global education, there are transversal issues that also deserve our attention. The good news is, these could bring light into the perennial struggles.
Drexel University Online’s Susan Aldridge interviews University of New Brunswick’s Marketing Director Belinda Elliott-Bielecki on the lessons the community can embrace from the business case of Amazon. Specifically, about how it focuses on making the most “painful” aspects of the transaction as much hassle-free as possible. She believes that, above all, admissions officials stand to benefit the most from what Amazon has done, from the way they handle online shopping carts and checkout, to the resounding success of the Prime program, to their latest, transaction-less convenience stores. Among one of the economic benefits is Amazon’s ability to benefit from an increasing variety of user interactions.
- One-click buy-in. By removing as many obstacles between desire and outcome Amazon makes it easier than ever to link action to reward. And shopping happens to be a highly psychologically rewarding experience.
- Never let them leave the bubble. Amazon builds an encompassing (and growing) ecosystem, allowing users to manage every part of it from the same place. This also gives them droves of user data from which to keep on learning.
- The platform is the product. For reasons beyond this space, the relationship between innovation and profitability is not straightforward. Many companies succeed not by making their products as good as possible, but by being able to manage user expectations. In this sense, the most valuable lesson can be that the marketplace is the real star.
To be sure, Aldridge is not advocating for Amazon as a whole, neither the less praiseworthy (if not questionable) practices in other fields aside from the registration process, nor anything else not explicitly discussed above.
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