Preparing for a future of technology driven corporate learning

by | Sep 10, 2013 | Articles

10 years ago, when we gathered insights for our first report ‘Linking Learning to Business’ (1), the business challenges driving change were, on the surface, similar to today: speed of change, customer retention, revenue growth and efficiency.

The learning technology landscape, however, was very different. Wikipedia was a toddler, Linked-IN had just been launched but there was no twitter or You-Tube or even Facebook. There were no iPhones or iPads or talk of bring your own device.

Over the last decade the L&D have been busy taking practical steps towards embracing online learning. Back in 2003, organisations involved in online learning were using e-learning courses and learning management systems. Hot trends were online virtual classrooms and the new kid on the block – rapid development.

Today the CIPD (2) show us that 74% of organisations are now using some form of e-learning – 10 years ago it didn’t even appear on their menu of options! Over that period we have become comfortable with how technology can enable the delivery of learning and automate standard offerings. As a result, we still have catalogues of courses – only now they are accessed via the LMS and are an hour long instead of a day. We still have lectures laced with PowerPoint but now we can access them virtually. We’ve learned how to bring efficiency to learning, but is this enough?

Technology driving business change
When I think about the future of L&D, I fear that many L&D professionals will be in for a shock! The stark fact is that in all other aspects of business life, technology is completely turning the way we work inside out and upside down. Business leaders are very clear that technology is a key driver of not just an enabler.

In businesses across the private, public and not-for-profit sectors, products and services are being redefined and reinvented as a result of rapid technology change. You only have to look at banks and the travel industry – at a minimum, they have to offer new ways of checking balances, and checking in, now we can pay directly from our mobile phones.

Customer retention is as critical as ever but today the way businesses understand and connect with customers has fundamentally changed. Early findings from this year’s IBM C-Suite study with 4,000 executives (3) indicates that developing an in-depth understanding of customers and creating a consistent experience across all customer touch points is a top concern.

The internet not only provides a new market place for organisations, it also becomes an incredibly rich source of information to help understand and meet the needs of customers at an individual level. No wonder the idea of big data is keeping execs awake at night – those that can turn data into insight and insight into action will always remain one step ahead of competitors.

Personal use of social media is encouraging openness, transparency and sharing, and 71% of CIO’s in the same IBM study see communications in the future moving to a more social/digital collaboration environment.

Speed, change, performance, nimbleness and agility are all watchwords for the future of business and these have been driven by technology. If this is true for the businesses we serve, how much more so for the future L&D department?

The future of business is the future of corporate L&D
The future of corporate L&D is inextricably intertwined with the future of business – if technology is driving change in our business, we have to be open to the fact that it is also driving change in the way that people learn and grow. If CEO’s are kept awake at night by the fact that business change is required to meet customer expectations, then L&D professionals need to wake up to the needs of their own internal customers who are working in these 21st century workplaces.

Towards Maturity have now gathered insights from over 2,900 organisations around the globe to help us understand how technology is impacting learning and how that technology enabled learning is impacting business. It’s not all good news but we’ve discovered lessons from the top learning companies that will help prepare us all for the exciting future of learning.

Top performing learning organisations are those that are equipped to respond to and embrace change in all its forms. They are not afraid to take risks, to experiment, to challenge and to fail. They are willing to challenge previous assumptions and models, to listen to the real needs of the learner and the business and create simple solutions that get the job done. They are not afraid to change and understand how essential it is to keep up-to-date, constantly honing skills by taking advantage of relevant benchmarking and CPD opportunities*.

Future of learning will not be linked to the latest learning ‘trend’ be it mobile, social, 70:20:10 or even blended. But it will be shaped by those who are passionate about contributing to business performance and committed to building skills and confidence of their staff and are willing to lay down preconceived ideas to achieve their goals.

(* These themes will be explored in the latest Towards Maturity Benchmark Study ‘Realising Potential’ which will be released 7th November www.towardsmaturity.org/2013benchmark.)

Author: Laura Overton
MD of Towards Maturity, a benchmarking practice that provides independent, authoritative research and expert advice to help assess and improve the effectiveness and consistency of L&D performance within organisations. Laura will be contributing to the Panel discussion on the Future of learning at WOL.

Follow via Twitter and Linked-In :@lauraoverton

(1) http://www.towardsmaturity.org/article/2008/06/11/linking-learning-business-original-research-2004/
(2) http://www.cipd.co.uk/research/_learning-talent-development
(3) http://www-935.ibm.com/services/us/en/c-suite/csuitestudy2013/infographic-01.html

 

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