BetaData: live trends from the 2017 Towards Maturity Benchmark Study

by | Jul 11, 2017 | Featured, Research

The 2017 Towards Maturity Benchmark opened on 22 May – and we’ve had record numbers of L&D leaders using the Benchmark to review their strategy and pick up new ideas. Below, we highlight the changing priorities we’ve discovered through our early analysis.

Since 2003, over 5,800 learning professionals have benchmarked with Towards Maturity and we’ve scoured the data from the first 150 participants this year to bring you insights about changing priorities and new demands, with a focus on learning technologies.

L&D leaders are placing more importance on creating a culture of learning

In 2016, we saw that 9 in 10 L&D leaders were looking to improve efficiency, fine-tune processes, boost performance, cultivate agility and improve culture. This year, we are starting to see a shift in how these are prioritised:

  • Whilst the focus on delivering more for less remains a priority, we are less likely to report that improving efficiency is a priority – 85% want to do this down from 95% last year.
  • At the same time, we are seeing that an influence on culture is becoming increasingly important, with 90% now wanting to play a role in changing mindsets.

Benchmark participants have commented that a focus on improving culture may lead to improved efficiency – an opportunity we will look to explore in our full analysis:

“A culture of learning can lead to greater efficiency if we are looking more at the development that people need, rather than just putting people onto various training courses for the sake of it.”

“I think motivation is the starting point for learning, because without it, there is no engagement or action.”

Technology is more likely to be used in developing business-critical ‘soft’ skills

Research with business leaders has highlighted a need for the skills that lead to an agile, responsive mindset. For the first time this year, we are seeing an increasing use of technology in supporting skills development for:

  • Team working
  • Communication
  • Problem solving
  • Innovation
  • Creative thinking

“Communication is one of the most popular topics being accessed on our LMS.”

The trusted tools remain, but emerging technology is on the rise

Despite 70% expecting learning budget allocated to technology to increase, L&D leaders in 2017 are spending a little less than a fifth of their budget on the same learning technologies. In fact, the top tools being used to engage the workforce remain the same:

  • E-learning
  • Live online learning
  • LMS
  • Enterprise platforms
  • Mobile
  • Video

Though these tools remain at the top of the most used, we’re seeing a significant increase (double than the usual increase) in this first sample’s usage of:

  • User-generated content
  • Badges
  • AI
  • Wearable
  • Virtual reality
  • Simulations

How these tools are being applied, and if their growth has the potential to be long standing, is a question that the 2017 Benchmark Study is yet to answer.

An industry that talks of the consumer experience has limited confidence in its users

Across the industry, the talk of improving user experience and providing our staff with an active voice in the process of learning is rife. Yet we are seeing that more L&D leaders say that their users lack confidence and engagement than ever before. Top barriers to lasting change include:

  • Employees lack the skills to manage their own learning (up by 10%)
  • Line manager reluctance/engagement (up by 10%)

“[Managers] don’t see it is their role to help people learning, encouraging, coaching, etc. and we sometimes forget to think of solutions for line managers to help them with this.”

The trouble is L&D leaders have little time or desire to tune into the voice of their users – only 3 in 10 are proactive in understanding how staff learn what they need to do their jobs (static over the last 3 years) and fewer organisations pull stakeholders into steering groups to help set direction ( just 35% this year compared to 42% last year.

What does the L&D industry need to tackle in 2017?

“It would be great to see the results of organisations who have the support of line managers and senior leadership and see what the differences are.”

“We will be working closer with HR. It might be interesting to get some insight into the difference between L&D functions that sit within HR and those who are separate”

As an independent research company, we need your voice on what’s important to you. The purpose of the Towards Maturity Benchmark is about identifying practical ways of improving business impact through learning innovation and as we prepare to dig deep into the data for help, we want to hear about the issues that matter to you.

Uncovering what works for YOU: what’s next?

Over 80% of this year’s participants have said that using the TM Benchmark to reflect has provided them with new ideas. It is still not too late to take part – your free personalised feedback will provide insights to help you:

  • Build a case for business buy-in
  • Engage learners more effectively
  • Transform learning
  • Equip your L&D team

Follow the latest benchmark news on Twitter at #TMBenchmark

Compare your strategy: Benchmark for free until 31 July

The Towards Maturity Benchmark enables L&D professionals to review their current learning strategy, compare their approach directly with top performing organisations and set priority actions – helping to deliver peak performance.

Get started and find out how your learning strategy compares - you'll get a free Personalised Benchmark Report (£300 value) and access to resources from our Ambassadors:

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Benchmark for free until 15 July

Get started and find out how your learning strategy compares - you'll get a free Personalised Benchmark Report (£300 value) and access to exclusive resources:
Learn more

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