For many organizations, the coronavirus pandemic has exposed some serious vulnerabilities. Businesses not equipped with a digital strategy have become highly reactive and struggled to swiftly pivot and support their workforce development under these unprecedented circumstances. Clearly, these uncertain times call for pioneer thinking. Organizations must learn, expand, and develop new ways to enable people to do better work through a continuously evolving digital strategy.
This lead paragraph might seem vague and grandiose; don’t get disillusioned by these opening lines. Let’s take a closer look at how organizations can leverage a digital mindset to successfully move both technology and people to the center of their response strategy and ongoing corporate narrative.
Where to start? Well, by defining a term that gets a lot of eye rolls – Digital Transformation.
Digital Transformation starts with the complete rethinking of how a business operates. Said best by McKinsey & Company, it is about empowering employees to embrace change and to challenge old ways of working. Digital Transformation must take place at all levels within an organization, i.e., the core business must fundamentally change. Countless business leaders have been reluctant to do the hard work – to transform their business operations to digital, but with the unexpected global crisis, they now have no choice. Becoming digital is the only way forward.
A Digital Transformation introduces boundless opportunities for innovation, operational efficiencies, and competitive advantage. Simply injecting technology into an existing process proves insufficient in realizing what it means to be digital. So, this is when the difference between Automation versus Digitalization becomes important.
“Linking proven learning methods with advanced technology allows organizations to meet the immediate needs of their people while future proofing their workforce along the way.”
Automation vs. Digitalization
Both Gartner and Forbes have published excellent content on the difference between Automation and Digitalization. Two recommended articles are included in the footnotes. If you are interested, dive in! To simplify the jargon:
- To install technology into an existing process
- To make a process operate automatically by replacing human intervention
- To provide new value, improve how something gets done
- To leverage technology to make work and ultimately people’s lives better
Unfortunately, many organizations focus on implementing automation with an intention to simplify work by removing human intervention as opposed to creating resilient business models. The output of these expensive automation projects consistently fails to meet business needs/expectations. Meanwhile, businesses that embrace digitalization have the mindset to better manage change overall, making change management a core competency while the business becomes more agile and customer-centric.
Digital Transformation of Learning
In today’s corporate setting, a person’s success is often attributed to their ability to learn and adapt. Education is an enabler for people, particularly during times of substantial change. One would think this understanding would propel corporate learning to the top of the priority list.
McKinsey & Company’s research had previously forecasted that the skills needed in the workplace will be utterly different by 2030. The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated this prediction to 2020. It’s imperative for organizations to support and develop their people in this disruptive transformation of work. Such an immense workforce revolution must be met with appropriate learning and development strategies.
One of the main goals of any corporate learning strategy should be making information accessible across the entire organization. Learning should not be a struggle, yet in most of today’s corporate settings, learning has not been designed to be people-centric. The Godfather of Corporate Learning, Josh Bersin, talks about how external consumer platforms like Google, YouTube, and LinkedIn make it extremely easy to search and consume knowledge-based content. These new age consumer platforms have become the common place for learners to circumvent their company’s clunky learning offerings for a better learning experience. Ironically, these external tech giants end up knowing more about an employee’s learning needs and skill level than their actual employer. And they leverage this information to create personalized, timely and interconnected learning experiences. Businesses should take note, there is something to learn here, pun intended!
Fundamental gaps exist with how people consume content and retain knowledge inside and outside of work. Below are four things to consider when redesigning your corporate learning strategy to meet consumer expectations:
- Personal – Today’s learners want learning geared towards their individual needs and interests. By leveraging innovations like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML), businesses can scale personalization to create individual learning experiences based on unique employee data.
- Mobile – Mandatory compliance training is often the #1 content accessed within a learning management system (LMS), but usage quickly drops off when it comes to everyday learning needs. A big reason for this is that corporate learning is often confined to a ridge destination (i.e. LMS) verses built into the flow of work. In response, learners pivot to internet searches, videos, podcasts, and other content that is immediately accessible via their mobile devices to fuel their curiosity and support their on-the-job learning needs
- Social – From infants to adults, we, by nature, learn from each other. Sharing knowledge and expertise via sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube creates new opportunities for individuals and companies to share, promote, and give/accept feedback on learning content. These same social learning tactics can be brought into the workplace too. We’re all vying for the 5-star review!
- Continuous – Developing ongoing learning experiences is the hook for creating a life-long learner, and, for the tech giants, creating a life-long consumer. Work, let alone life, is in a constant state of change. Continuous learning is a response to the turbulence of modern work (*gulp* life): new technology, new company direction, new process, new teammate, new…, new…., new…
A Digital Approach to Corporate Learning
This humanitarian crisis has changed business operating models forever. In turn, organizations are forced to rapidly evolve old learning programs and training models to support their newly fractionalized workforce. Every organization is impacted differently. Some have transitioned to working remotely. Others have evolved to shift patterns of small cohorts. All are creating new roles and transitioning people to support swiftly changing business demands. A digital learning strategy is required now, more than ever before, to support the disruption.
Not sure where to start with your digital learning transformation? Hit the ground running with these six recommendations for reimagining corporate learning activities into effective and immersive digital learning experiences.
- Understand when to be highly digital and when to be highly human – it’s the balance of both where truly the magic happens.
- Build an open source API Integrations strategy, integrate new technology solutions to enhance the learning experience – a friendly learning bot ready to assist will do the trick.
- Design for mobile first, create a new learning mode for consuming content anywhere at any time – work, life, and learning have no borders in today’s world.
- Set the standard for data always – use actionable metrics to connect learning with performance and business outcomes.
- Support various types of learning – including on-the-job learning, team-based learning, ILT, blended learning, gamification, and adaptive microlearning, to name a few.
- Go all in, become digital – do the upfront work… align your company mindset, understand and build empathy for your people, rethink and redesign your processes, and then use technology to bring it all together.
Remember, the Digital Transformation of Learning extends beyond the virtual delivery of instructional courses and training. It requires a mindset shift for how organizations fundamentally approach learning for the workforce. Linking proven learning methods with advanced technology allows organizations to meet the immediate needs of their people while future proofing their workforce along the way.
Josh Bersin https://joshbersin.com/2019/03/learning-experience-platform-lxp-market-grows-up-now-too-big-to-ignore/