As we count down to the fourth annual Skilljar Connect — Customer Education’s premier industry conference — we thought we’d ask some of our customers why they’ve attended in the past and what they’re most looking forward to this year. See more in our series of Skilljar CONNECTions here

View the full agenda for Connect 2021 and register now!

Dean Onishi, Sr. Director, Certification, Procore

   Skilljar CONNECTor:
Dean Onishi 
   Role: Sr. Director, Documentation & Certification

   Company: Procore
Construction software
   Favorite Thing About Connect:
Hearing about what other
   people are doing with the Skilljar platform 



“I don’t know that there’s another event that’s similar to Skilljar Connect in terms of being really laser-focused on the customer education space. Spending just a few days with peers can really shape your strategies for the upcoming year.” — Dean Onishi

Procore’s Dean Onishi partnered with Skilljar in 2015, at which point the construction technology company had no formal training, onboarding, or certification program integrated into their customers’ implementation process. More than 150,000 Procore course completions later (“someone gets Procore-certified every five minutes!”), Dean still makes a point of attending Skilljar Connect to see how other customers are using the platform and share ideas on how to solve for new use cases. 

Skilljar: Can you tell us your biggest takeaways from attending past Connect conferences?

Dean Onishi:

One thing that I remember coming away with was in regard to Virtual Instructor-led training (VILT), trying to figure out a blended user experience with some VILT and some self-serve training. It was also good to see validation that a lot of people are moving toward more of a freemium model — some customers who were putting a price tag on some of their content pre-COVID were opening the doors a bit during Covid, with the idea of continuing this model going forward.

This was important for us to think about — how to segment free training versus premium training, and learning that the value may not necessarily be in dollars you charge for a course as much as the product adoption and reduced churn you get from it. It can be easy to focus on the dollars and cents coming in the front door and not necessarily what’s happening in the end when you’re trying to really see the overall value of what your content is providing the company overall. 

Skilljar: What was the most actionable takeaway you were able to incorporate for your business right away?

Dean: We’re always testing the waters on different areas and situations, so it’s always good to see what other people are doing, what tech stack they’re using. For example, using Articulate for course creation really stepped forward in terms of a common part of a lot of people’s tech stack, including ours. 

Also, hearing what other people are doing with regard to best practices for asset management was super valuable for us. I really got a lot out of the breakout rooms and roundtables on different topics; meeting with others that have similar customers and also have a ton of content that they’re managing and what challenges they run into. 

Skilljar: What are you most looking forward to at Connect 2021?

Dean: I’m looking forward to hearing about what everyone was doing pre-Covid —  from a Customer Success as well as Customer Education point of view — how that changed, and what elements they plan to keep regarding the digitization of learning. I expect the reality is that we all had to create different types of content because the model we were using before doesn’t work anymore.

Another topic that is still a big focus of mine is localization and internationalization, even after a couple of years of having made that transition. I’m also interested to hear about the trends in mobile training — what we are seeing in terms of users consuming content on Skilljar through a mobile device, and what that user experience is like. We’ve seen an uptick of users going through our courses on a mobile device, it’s increased tenfold during the pandemic. 

Skilljar: As a Connect veteran, what advice do you have for learning professionals who plan on attending Connect 2021?

Dean:  Don’t do it alone! In the past, it seemed like there was usually just one person in attendance from a company trying to absorb as much as they could. I’m just really excited that this year, we’re going to bring a small team, including our Instructional Content Designers so it will be great to have a Procore cohort there. 

Skilljar: What advice do you have for learning professionals who may be on the fence about attending Connect 2021?

Dean: I would tell them that Skilljar Connect is a unique conference for Customer Education professionals where thought leaders and instructional designers come to share best practices and insights with each other. It’s always inspiring to hear what others are doing in terms of current trends and digital content strategies.

I think there’s an opportunity for a lot of teams to ask themselves: What’s a more business-efficient way to train and onboard users through a digital touch method that still drives product adoption in the same way as the human touch or better? The answer for you is probably at Connect. — Dean Onishi 

View the full agenda for Connect 2021 and register now!

Thanks Dean,  we look forward to seeing you November 15 -18 at the Fairmont Sonoma for Connect 2021