With the myriad choices available to the training professional, there is more technology and more tools available today than ever before to create the most relevant and impactful training possible, which can be tailored to a learner’s preferences. Learners know enough now to expect these technologies to adapt to their workflows and preferences, not the other way around. In the recent past, these technology cycles have only continued to accelerate and have consequently allowed organizations to have immediate access to an arsenal of tools.
For example, over the last five years there has been a two-fold increase in the number of Cloud and mobile tools for learning – highlighting that these are no longer nice-to-have for learning programs but they need to be a strategic part of any comprehensive learning plan (Aberdeen Research). We’ve reached a point where training professionals need to begin looking at technology and asking not, “Can the (tool) do this?” but “What is the best tool to use” This simple shift will help get to the root issue: media habits have changed, and outdated approaches will generate increasingly poor results. Training leaders need to make sure that their technology choices are not only the best for the job at hand but also allow their learners to access their programs however they need to.
Treating Learners like Customers
The distinction between training and marketing is becoming more blurred. For example, associations compete to create perceived value and then need to sustain this value, often through member-training programs. Similarly, technology, service, and product-based companies use free and (some are not-free) training opportunities to create more valued touch-points and to help maximize their customers’ usage and benefits from their respective products and services.
In all of these cases, creating training programs and training events helps drive company awareness and branding and is essential to build customer loyalty. Since the value and effectiveness of customer education and training so significantly expands marketing reach and effectiveness, learning professionals and marketers need to stop thinking of marketing and training as two separate engagements that happen at different times. Marketing can use training events to improve their outcomes, and training professionals can use marketing approaches and tools to improve their program’s effectiveness.
Changing Workforce Demographics
By 2025 the workforce will be dominantly made up of Millenials. These Learners are more comfortable with technology and expect more. Simply put, learning audiences are getting more familiar with advanced technologies and strategies. They see sophisticated technology and thinking incorporated into everything from smart phone apps to web design to social media. This integration of learning, branding, and point-of-need training is a primary driver of change.
Moving forward, we anticipate a business environment with sophisticated learners who expect instructionally sound techniques, paired with rich-media content and social interactions. However, research is showing that only 39% of firms plan to increase that budget in the next 12 months to emphasize employee engagement and meet these demands (Aberdeen Research). With smart strategies and the right technologies, you can often improve employee and partner engagement without additional costs.
Are You Still Doing Too Much By Hand?
Primary research with clients and prospective clients shows that this particular business process is still ripe for automation: surprisingly, over 72% of businesses still manage and administer their learning programs manually, based on a 2013 MarketsandMarkets report. Other syndicated research by Wainhouse Research and IDC has calculated that businesses spend over $25, on average, to manually manage and administer each registration for their Learning Programs; a total market cost exceeding $100B annually!
Businesses are wasting significant resources, both financial and human, to manage and administer their training, education and learning development programs, including learning programs for the Extended Enterprise: educating customers, users, and partners, etc.
The most successful companies approach training with real business results in mind, a plan to map and measure the impact of training, and a performance sustainment model that allows for real-time assessment of the program. Rapid training responses can then be implemented when any metric drops below certain standards. Training leaders play a key role in the successful execution of the overall business strategy. A responsive, intelligent training strategy is key to staying competitive in today’s hyper-connected 24×7 market.