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Looking backwards, looking forwards


It's been a remarkably busy year of developments on the TrainingZONE and HR Zone sites, and the year-end gives us an opportunity to summarise what's changed and to reveal a little of what's to come.

TrainingZONE began as a hobby in 1997 with the idea of making training resources more freely available through an online environment. In December 1997 we had 50 members; in December 1998 this had grown to 500 members; by December 1999 there were 4,500 members visiting around 35,000 pages of the site each month. Today there are around 25,000 members visiting almost a quarter-million pages every month. In addition to this, there are another 25,000 members of professional institutes whose websites are powered by TrainingZONE or HR Zone.

The content of the sites has expanded rapidly during the past year. The news pages have been greatly extended with areas dedicated to training/learning, IT issues and HR issues. Over twenty commercial companies now use the PressZone service to announce their news. The online Directories now have over 3,000 records and are displayed across several other business websites bringing additional marketing opportunities to anyone maintaining their entry in these directories.

But the biggest expansion has been in the practical resources which we can offer to members. This returns us to the original concept behind TrainingZONE - to make learning resources easily available in one place. On TrainingZone, the Toolkit offers access to around 3,000 training and learning resources at the touch of a keyboard - handouts, briefings, programmes, presentations - nearly all available for immediate use. On HR Zone, there is the HR Resources Centre offering a parallel service on matters concerned with employment, legislation, health and safety, and taxation. Some of this material is provided by our partners, but members can also earn income from the sale of their original materials in both the Toolkit and the HR Resource Centre.

In addition to downloadable resource material, there are now around 2,000 physical products of direct relevance to HR and Training professionals supplied by 25 different retailers in the online shopping mall.

And if it's training courses and seminars you're looking for, you can list and market your own events, and search through details of 350,000 available courses in the LearningZone.

This rapid expansion of practical resources for Training and HR Professionals undoubtedly led to the most prestigious recognition for the sites this year, when TrainingZone received a Yell Award for best eCommerce site.

The staff team has expanded beyond all recognition. In April, Stephanie Phillips joined us from the BBC as the TrainingZone Editor, closely followed by Jon Seaton as HR Zone Editor; more recently, Carrol Rowe has joined the team to add her expertise as IT Training Editor. Behind the scenes, there's Kate Hansford and a team of producers and technical staff, whilst Keith Bryan and Richard Sergeant handle all the sales enquiries. Jeremy Arnold, Russell Holt and Tim Evans are responsible for our partnership and content deals. And Sarah Miller and her team deal with all customer enquiries. In total, we end the year with 84 staff working in the company (up from 39 last year), delivering ten online communities to 180,000 professionals and over 40 partner clients.

Our list of partners has grown throughout the year. In addition to the 25 companies using our PressZone services, we have announced various partnership agreements with Training Solutions, THINQ (formerly the National Training Index), Echelon Learning Ltd, the Institute of IT Training, the Institute of Continuing Professional Development, the Institute for Supervision and Management, Gower Publishing and OneClickHR.

So, how do we plan to follow this? Well, here's a preview of what's coming up in the next few months:

  • Over 2,500 more training resources are lined up for inclusion in the Toolkit
  • A complete online HR solution will become available across the sites giving you access to specialist information and enabling you to outsource the entire HR function
  • A system for handling staff salaries will be introduced.
  • A dedicated eLearning Resource Centre is coming, together with
  • An integrated programme of elearning courses relevant to Training and HR professionals
  • Both TrainingZONE and HR Zone will receive a complete make-over so that you can find what you're looking for much more easily
  • New servers will dramatically increase the speed of page delivery to your screen
  • The Hands on Training conference in July promises to be the H.O.T. event of the year
  • A new fully interactive online workshop environment will carry powerpoint slides, whiteboard features, voice and video
  • New online self-assessment and profiling tools will be launched

Stay with us for an exciting ride into 2001 !


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