LSM launches the world's first MBA course that can be studied on smartphone devices
London School of Marketing (LSM) is a leading online, distance and blended learning provider based in central London. LSM delivers accredited marketing and business qualifications along with courses from recognised professional bodies and universities to over 10,000 students worldwide. The school also has offices in Sri Lanka and an international network of Local Access Points (LAPs) which provide facilities for LSM students to gather, discuss their courses and collaborate on projects.
In order to continue to grow, LSM wanted to invest in new technology in response to the growing demand from its students who wish to study on the move and fit learning around their professional and personal lives.
According to research, approximately 4.6 out of 10 college students take at least one course online. By 2019, it is anticipated that half of all college classes will be e-Learning based as this method of study becomes increasingly popular due to its affordability and the ease in which information can be accessed at anytime, from anywhere.
Anton Dominique, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Marketing Officer at London School of Marketing, explains, "Technology doesn't stop, it keeps on changing, which is why we desired to be at the forefront of providing innovative solutions to our students while staying two steps ahead of our competitors at any given time. But equally it's important to move at the right pace and deliver the right technology that our customers want and which is going to make a tangible difference to their lives."
After deciding to become a specialist online provider of UK higher education courses, LSM sought funding to develop its own e-Learning platform. The premise was to give students direct access to tutors and downloadable learning materials at a fraction of the cost compared to traditional course fees as well as the personal and material expenses that students incur through classroom learning.
However, despite demonstrating a clear and sound financial plan, LSM encountered scepticism when approaching traditional high street banks for finance.
"The traditional banks we spoke to asked for certain assurances from us which were unrealistic as they didn't seem to appreciate that we were an online business with no fixed assets. The concept of why we wanted to invest in innovative technology as a modern learning provider also seemed lost on them, despite the digital age we now live in," surmised Anton.
A speculative call from Wesleyan Bank (Wesleyan) at the right time changed everything. As a specialist provider of IT finance solutions with a 25 year heritage, Wesleyan was able to provide LSM with an unsecured loan to allow it to launch its virtual e-Learning environment in 2013.
The flexible, payment over time agreement allowed the school to spread the cost of purchasing cutting edge software, IT consultancy and associated people fees in one affordable package without them having to pay a significant lump sum upfront and dip into vital cash reserves.
Wesleyan Bank's flexible and bespoke finance plan was tailored to LSM's requirements. This allowed them to upgrade their technology halfway through their contract and quickly leverage new innovations should the need arise to ensure the school would retain its competitive edge in the marketplace and flourish in the future.
Anton comments, "Wesleyan Bank was extremely responsive and practically on hand 24/7 for me. Whether it was eight o'clock in the morning or nine in the evening if I sent an email I received an immediate reply from my knowledgeable Account Manager. This enabled us to progress very efficiently without encountering any bottlenecks which made our overall experience very smooth.
"Crucially, they fully understood and embraced what we were trying to do which gave us the confidence that they would be a trusted finance partner to LSM both now and in the future."
The results & benefits
After such a straightforward and positive experience, LSM approached Wesleyan Bank in 2016 to discuss funding a second phase of development to further enhance the school's e-Learning platform. Despite being given a tight deadline, Wesleyan once again provided the necessary six-figure funding to enable LSM to accelerate its ambitious IT project without delay.
"Wesleyan Bank was naturally my first port of call once we agreed to develop the second stage of our online learning platform and our experience was equally as hassle free as the first time. Borrowing the money we needed via a flexible payment plan helped us to invest in new technology, more quickly, without burdening our day-to-day cash flow," commented Anton.
"Although we had the funds in place to pay for the software and associated services upfront, it was much simpler for us to turn to Wesleyan for financial support. This way provides us with greater flexibility and value over a longer period and ensures we can continue to review our technology needs every two years without inhibiting our working capital."
Partnering with Wesleyan Bank has ensured that LSM's e-Learning platform is truly cutting edge. As a result, the school was able to launch the world's first MBA course that students can study on their mobile phones or other smart devices both on and off-line, allowing them to study wherever they want, regardless of location.
In the future, LSM has ambitious plans to improve the platform by further integrating with popular social apps, such as Facebook and WhatsApp to establish more real-time communication lines with students and improve their overall experience.
Anton adds, "We are very excited about the future and so are our students. Thanks to Wesleyan Bank, the second phase of our e-Learning platform has received very positive feedback. This has led to us seeing a higher take up on our courses as information is now much easier for students to follow and access on the move.
"Our experiences of using Wesleyan Bank have always been extremely smooth. They are professional, quick to respond to queries and have excellent knowledge of the IT finance and education market so we will continue to work closely with them going forward."
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