Critical workforce needs and advances in technology mean that learning professionals are at the forefront of the most important talent challenges. Learning can be a major driver of revenue for an organisation and serves as a great motivator for staff, and increases productivity and retention. Technology-driven learning, if applied correctly, is flexible, adaptable, cost-effective and more immediate.
Here are five technology trends that companies should leverage to unlock business opportunities that will shape workplace learning in the year ahead:
There are basically two trends that go hand-in-hand: rapid integration in the market and the almost exponential growth of workforce data. Data consolidation has been activated as companies are creating an integrated talent management approach, with learning connected to performance, compensation, succession and recruiting. Organisations with effective integration of learning and talent systems are three times more likely to have strong business results.
Companies are drawn by the return on investment (ROI) potential and another benefit of integration is data that improves workforce analytics. Integration of talent and learning with other business software can yield insights about a workforce that could lower human resource costs and, ultimately, benefit the bottom line.
Mobile learning is part of an enterprise-wide movement and, because of that, it's never been easier to engage staff on the job, or on the go. A recent survey by the International Data Group (IDG) indicated that 69% of chief information officers worldwide placed mobile technology adoption at the top of their list of critical priorities for 2013. Organisations embrace mobile learning as a great way to increase participation and engagement. For example, leveraging one of the most basic elements of mobile technology - text messages (SMS) - learners can be encouraged to participate in polls, surveys and questionnaires. More engaged learners means more effective training.
There are several other ways companies can leverage mobile learning, including providing job aids and quality operating procedure updates to employees who, for example, don't have access to a workstation or are out in the field away from their workstations. Mobile technology allows immediate access to information - whether it's technical specifications, learning and training resources or current marketing collateral - no matter where staff are based.
Solutions that are quick, inexpensive, simple to create and easy to deploy are must-haves for those generating e-learning content. One emerging trend is to integrate social media and social learning into e-learning courses, for example, by embedding a link such as a blog, into a course. Other trends include more scenario-based learning and creating shorter courses of around five to 15 minutes, instead of the traditional 30- to 60-minute courses.
The "'holy grail" of learning outcomes is cutting costs, increasing efficiency and driving revenues. One way to contribute to all three is by adopting extended-enterprise technologies and serving external audiences, such as distributors, suppliers, customers and more. Software as a service-based learning management system makes it easy to develop and deliver training on demand, helping organisations to accelerate the adoption of new products and services, improve information sharing with external partners, improve customer satisfaction and increase sales by supporting sales enablement.
Research shows that 45% to 50% of top performers within a company are always looking for new jobs that bring new challenges. Recruiting is again, not the solution; retention is. Succession management tools to help companies assess which roles are critical to their success and identify skills gaps. Once there is an understanding of the bench strength and areas of risk, organisations can target development for high-potential employees in these areas.
In conclusion, it's crucial that employees are active participants in their career development and that organisations provide the right training to help them gain the knowledge and skills to become the drivers of the business as tomorrow's leaders. Empowering employees with the tools to impact on their own learning and career development is going to remain a growing trend in the market.