Thank you for your interesting question. I have surveyed the elearning
market in both Poland and the Czech Republic, providing information on
companies and statistics where I could. Overall, the market is more
established in the Czech Republic, but because of that, there may be
more opportunities for a nascent company in Poland, where the market
is not well-developed as of yet.
"Are there other companies servicing this market with a similar product?"
There are indeed.
In Poland, there are not many. Here are a few examples:
Young Digital Poland
The Polish universities are the biggest marketers and consumers of
e-learning in Poland.
The Umbrella Project, led by the United Nations Development Programme
and the Polish government, has been offering online learning courses
in management for a few years. Here is what the UNDP says about the
an experimental undertaking,as ICT development is relatively
low and Polish people are generally not familiar with e-learn-
ing. This training project is consistent with UNDP?s aims and
the tasks specified for Millennium Development Goals,
for which information and communication technologies (ICTs)
should be intensively promoted and used for disseminating
knowledge, and the benefits resulting from such technolo-
gies should be made as widely available as possible."
The UNDP collaborates on the project with ComputerLand, a company
which provides IT services to government and businesses in Poland and
uses the project to gauge interest in e-learning projects. They have
used the Umbrella Project as a springboard into the market. Right now,
they seem to be the best-positioned provider of services. Here is
Their training courses can be seen here:
The European Commission also surveyed CR for their report. Here are
their findings on the Czech e-learning market. (3)
There are many elearning companies in CR. A few are global American companies.
A few examples that are not global are Click2Learn and Kontis.
Click2Learn and another company, SumTotal Systems, are represented in
CR by Kontis. Click2Learn is an American company.
Cisco and IBM also have representation in elearning systems in CR, IBM
with its Lotus software. Cisco has the Networking Academy, located
Cisco Networking Academy
WebCT, a Canadian company, is used in many Czech schools.
There are some companies that provide their own elearning content, not
just the software to use for other companies' or schools' content.
SpeakSpeak, a school to learn English
Langmaster, also for learning languages
Prevent, for health safety information
A full list of elearning providers in CR can be seen here:
There is a project that Cesky Telecom (the main telephone service
provider) has developed called the Czech E-Learning Network, or CELN,
which is a civic project devoted to educating citizens online in order
to improve their status in the European Union.
Its website can be seen here:
"Are they successful?"
Elearning marketers do not appear to be that successful in Poland. The
most successful elearning marketer at the time of the EU report,
Mindworx, seems to have gone out of business now and never became very
successful. Companies seem to be much more successful in the Czech
Republic. However, the IT atmospheres are similar in both places and
the market should be improving in Poland. So far, it has not reached
Czech levels, but it is possible that that can happen eventually. From
what I can tell, Poland has no dynamic company such as Kontis which
has come in and convinced schools, government agencies, banks and
other companies to implement large programs and get their
employees/students involved in this type of learning. The potential is
definitely there, but the Polish companies do not appear to be too
successful in the area yet.
In addition, Czech companies such as Kontis have partnered with larger
American and Canadian companies to provide elearning services under
the more well-known foreign name. This does not seem to be the case in
Poland, but it has been successful in CR and the opportunity is there
for someone who is willing to invest time and effort.
By contrast, CR has many companies which are vying for all sorts of
government and school contracts for elearning.
Click2Learn has landed a contract with Czech Telecom to provide online
training services to 15,000 employees. Kontis represents Click2Learn
on this project.
"Eastern European Telco Czechs Out Click2learn"
More than 22,000 working days were spent by employees learning from
this system, called "Virtual University." Czech Telecom spent more
than CZK 90,000,000 on this training.
Here is a case study of the program by Kontis:
Kontis has numerous other case studies available of its clients, many
of which are available at the bottom of this webpage:
Other companies, such as IBM and Cisco, have made inroads on the Czech
market and have done well with their software.
"What is the size of the market?"
The size of the e-learning market in Poland is growing, but is not
large at the moment. Poland just entered the European Union two years
ago, and that should help the country continue to grow, become
wealthier and therefore more of its citizens wishing to educate
themselves and get better jobs.
Right now there are not that many Poles on the Internet:
Personal Computers (per 1,000 people):
Internet users (thousands):
This is a pretty small percentage compared to the overall Polish
population. However, just as with most places, Internet usage is
continually growing, especially with the rise of faster broadband
connections that are easier to use. The most likely result is that
Polish internet usage will go up over the next few years. However,
computers and internet access are expensive for Poles.
However, the future is bright. Online learning is inexpensive, easy to
implement, and popular with companies and learners. The United Nations
Development Programme stated:
"The [Umbrella] project has demonstrated
online e-learning to be effective and has shown that
a carefully prepared course does not meet major barriers
that might otherwise arise due to lack of ICT skills or from
the trainees?mental resistance to learning in an online envi-
ronment. E-learning is inexpensive and does not require
trainees to interrupt their current work,which in many cases
is a decisive factor for participating in a course.The relative-
ly low availability of computer equipment in the Polish
public sector is a more easily overcome obstacle than
expected. Both the trainees and the teachers are satisfied
with the course and training results." (1)
The European Comission conducted a survey a few years ago of all
European countries and their access to Internet resources and
elearning. It is a fine resource of information on these topics. You
can find it here:
The Czech Republic shows about the same prospects in these areas, but
the Czech market in e-learning is more developed. It is part of Europe
now and growing as a result. It is part of the eEurope Action Plan
which commits the country to growing IT infrastructure and promoting
greater skills and access to personal computers and especially the
Internet for citizens. This most likely means that computer skills and
usage will grow in the Czech Republic as well as Poland, but they are
not high now. Out of the population of 10.3 million, 40 percent of the
population uses the Internet and nine percent have the Internet in
their households. The reason that so many people use the Internet, but
so few in their homes is simple: lack of competition and government
control of the fixed telephone lines prevents most people from being
able to afford a landline telephone; 76 percent of the population uses
mobile phones instead. Broadband is not prevalent, and dialup requires
a landline telephone service to be installed. Czech Republic has the
second-highest Internet costs in the OECD rankings. The cost of a
personal computer is also too high for many Czechs to be able to
afford at the current moment.
The market for e-learning is currently not large at all in the Czech
Republic. Only five percent of Internet users will use the Internet
for financial reasons such as to check a bank account, and credit card
use is not high. In addition, face-to-face transactions are valued
much more than one conducted on the Net. However, something that could
encourage elearning in this country is that there are not enough
university places to allow all those who want to attend university to
Despite these obstacles, Cisco sums up the situation thusly: "Despite
these formidable challenges, the Czech Republic?central Europe's most
promising online market?is well positioned for strong
Internet-business expansion over the next decade." (2)
Number of PCs per 100 citizens --- 12.2
All is not lost, however. Internet use is growing all the time, and as
can be expected, young people are very involved with the Internet and
very willing to use it for convenient purposes. Of employed workers,
five percent use the Internet for online e-learning. According to the
report, "Young Czechs expressed most interest in learning a foreign
language online." The report states about overall e-learning in CR:
"The Czech market is relatively new to eLearning, but one of its
characteristics are that it is developing very fast and in that way
approaching the western European standards for use of eLearning.
Global surveys are said to show that 75 percent of company training is
based on the company's own know-how, and only 25 percent of company
training is being done through the purchase of prepared courses. In
the Czech Republic (and Slovakia), however, the ratio is even more in
favour of internally developed courses. This is mainly thought to be
because of the small size of the market, resulting in a considerably
lower number of prepared courses in the local language that can be
bought and directly implemented. Some companies therefore offer
systems that enable corporate clients to effectively develop and
manage courses on their own, or prepare them based on the clients'
"How do my competitors reach the market?"
In Poland, companies often partner with universities to deliver
content. The Umbrella Project does not give out printed
advertisements, but instead relies only on online advertising to
promote itself, and the system seems to work. They structure their
website so that they rank high in search engine rankings for related
The best opportunities that currently exist are in the university
realm. However, if large companies such as those in the Czech Republic
could be convinced to give training online, the market could open up.
Polish elearning companies do not seem to have taken advantage of this
Kontis has reached out to the market by creating software, called
iTutor, that can adapt to many different situations and styles of
courses. Kontis sells the software to companies for managerial
courses and to educational institutions for academic learning. By
providing the software and not the course material themselves, Kontis
is not as limited in what kinds of customers it can sell its product
to. Here is a case study on their software in the school environment:
Kontis Case Study
Most companies do not create original content, but translate their
pre-existing content from other countries or markets into Czech, or
simply administer the content created by the Czech companies
What opportunties (product/service) are there for a new competitior?
The European Commission's report states that few Polish universities
have IT-related courses, despite an interest in these subjects from
the young population. E-learning could prove to be a useful tool in
this arena-- students who wish to learn more about computer science or
related subjects will certainly be willing to use a computer to do so,
and schools will be able to administer the courses more cheaply. (3)
At this time, corporate training is not as well-marketed or penetrated
as it is in the Czech Republic. Most companies that do any form of
corporate training in Poland are multinational companies. If one could
convince smaller Polish companies that they could benefit from
training their employees online, a new niche could be created in the
The Polish government, along with banks and the finance and telecoms
sector, could also be lucrative markets to enroll in training
programs. This has worked well for Kontis in the Czech Republic.
As stated in the European Commission's report, the Czech Republic has
less corporate training coming from outside sources than most other
countries. More businesses would probably be open to outsourcing this
training if another company could market learning to them that is done
in the Czech language.
Here is a case study of Pepsi's experience with e-learning in a few
central European countries, including Poland and the Czech Republic:
Kudos Case Study on PepsiAmericas
CR companies like Kontis and IBM's Lotus do well at marketing B2B to
companies and the government and school sectors. These are lucrative
clients who also gain respect for the elearning companies that land
contracts with them.
"How can I reach this market?"
Poland might be a tough nut to crack, considering that companies like
Mindworx have quickly disappeared. However, universities have
certainly not reached the elearning potential that they could have,
and the government, a potential huge client, has done virtually
nothing in this area. The Czech Republic has similar stats on Internet
usage and penetration, but has much higher levels of elearning
development. Therefore, Poland should be able to reach Czech levels
with no problem, and Internet use is constantly growing.
Government and corporate clients would seem to be the natural step.
Universities are good, too, but may not be as lucrative as government
and corporate entities. An easy sell can be made to government
agencies and businesses that already do training-- they'll most likely
save money with online training. Showing them statistics and
successful completion of training by other companies should convince
them that this is a great asset to their business.
A good way to reach the Czech market is to position yourself as an
alternative to Kontis. A great way to increase your profile would be
to get involved with the government's CELN program. It provides
elearning on its own and directs citizens to courses conducted by its
partners-- becoming one of those partners could be a great idea. While
the market is more developed than Poland's, it is still not nearly as
developed as it could be, and there is certainly room to grow and
prosper in this area. There are many companies that would want to
utilize elearning that have not done so yet. A good way to sell it to
those companies is to emphasize the current cost of their traning,
which can be in the thousands, compared to the cost of computer
training, which can be in the hundreds.
1. United Nations Development Programme
"How to Build Open Information Societies"
Central Europe: Czech Republic
Led by the Czech Republic, Central Europe fights hard to close the
technology gap with western Europe.
By Richard Martin
3. European Commission Report on the E-Learning Market in Europe
cisco czech elearning
oracle czech elearning
If you need any additional clarification, let me know and I'll be glad
to assist you.