Learning has long been the bedrock of business success. A century ago, firms such as General Motors and General Electric pioneered standardized in-house programs to build basic enterprise-wide skills. Since then, many companies have fleshed out, or subscribed to, targeted academic programs and leadership training centers.
More recently, in the face of COVID-19, businesses across the world have been forced to develop new strategies, with very little planning time, to address unforeseen challenges. The talent pool of skilled workers has shrunk, and employers are seeking ways to ensure recruits are job-ready quickly, in line with business demand. Innovative technologies, including blockchain, robotics and workplace automation, have helped streamline many logistics processes and improve workplace efficiencies. However, they have also increased the skill level needed to be successful on the job.
Given these conditions and the need to be future-ready, companies must strive to transform their training programs from traditional Learning Management Systems (LMS) into highly efficient, intuitive and effective learning platforms. In the digital era, corporate learning platforms must enable:
- A reduced learning curve, allowing the rate of learning new skills to translate into cost savings for the company
- ‘Anytime, Anywhere’ learning to minimize workflow disruptions and enhanced scalability
- Experiential and situational learning that can be applied from day one
- Repeatable, reliable and contextual training across geographies
- Efficient delivery and management of training over different stages of the employee’s tenure, with quantifiable measures for assessing success
- Personalization for increased learner engagement and output
- Smarter, performance-oriented decision-making capabilities
A McKinsey study showed how firms undertaking digital transformation must invest in developing relevant organization-wide skills. Transformation success was over three times more likely where respondents indicated that their organizations had invested correctly in digital talent.1
Digital evolution, in turn, has unfolded tremendous opportunities in the manner and format of delivering such learning. COVID-19 added urgency and gave organizations a strong impetus to invest in digital learning systems and methodologies. However, content and event driven models are yet to make the big leap to performance and competency led learning journeys that synchronize business and learner needs. This is well reflected in companies’ struggles to create learning environments that enable rapid skilling.
The Evolution of Learning Technologies
Digital learning is revolutionary. Since the advent of modern internet-user experiences and Artificial Intelligence (AI), it has been constantly evolving to better leverage technological advances. Understanding and adopting the right types of digital learning is essential if we want to fully capitalize on the digital learning revolution.
Effective Learning: Customized Courses to Improve Learning Proficiency
The digital transformation of learning is far more than the extension of e-learning. It requires a new and re-imagined mindset that enables robust business continuity with strategies and tools for sustaining future-relevant knowledge. This includes leveraging Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) to simulate on-the-job situations and support the learning process.
Such organizational learning must also be institutionalized in the workflow instead of merely engaging the employee with isolated events. It must be structured around a series of activities (such as teamwork, face-to-face courses and e-learning courses) and be woven into a customized and experiential learning journey, leveraging digital training tools.
For increased efficacy, the learning curve can be reduced, and the courses made flexible and aligned to specific business and personal needs. Employees can thus continuously improve their knowledge and skills without hindering business continuity or affecting productivity.
A bouquet of highly effective and engaging digital training tools and platforms, sequentially and logically woven across the employee’s tenure, would achieve this goal. A look at some of the key aspects of a best-in-class training framework illustrates this point:
Digital Methodologies – Hire to Retire
A bouquet of tools and platforms that drive learning efficiency across the employee lifecycle:
The Learning Experience Platform
Located at the core of an effective digital learning ecosystem, the Learning Experience Platform (LXP) should help users discover curated learning opportunities aligned with their professional goals. Combining learning content from different sources, it should leverage AI to create personalized recommendations and deliver them across digital touchpoints. All industry-based learning resources would be hosted on the LXP, with a clear progression from entry levels to specialized mastery within a discipline.
Micro-authoring Tools – Smartcards, Pathways, Journey, Badges
Learning Events – Webinars, Virtual ILT, e-Learning Courses, Videos, Podcasts, Quizzes, Polls, Knowledge Tests, Digital Documents
Mobile-authoring Tools – Livestream, Ask Me Anything
Additional Features – Manager Dashboard, Skills Passport, Bookmark the Content, Follow a Channel, Like & Comment, Follow a Leader / SME
Simulation and Adaptive Learning Platform
An adaptive learning system involves designing an intelligent digital training methodology with a powerful practice engine and built-in assessments and dashboards to measure and analyze a learner’s comprehension and growth through the learning journey. The latest AI advances can be leveraged to design robust simulations to deliver superior learning and provide hands-on experience right from day 1 of training. This will enable the application of knowledge early on in a safe and remediation-driven environment. Data from learners can be used to gauge their strengths, adjust content delivery and promote development in a personalized, ‘anytime, anywhere’ ecosystem to bring out their maximum potential. A global shipping and logistics player achieved a staggering 37 percent reduction in the learning curve and close to 15 percent productivity improvement through such a digital transformation of their learning system.
Microlearning and Gamification
A mobile-first microlearning methodology is a must in the digital era. It can deliver short bursts of content targeting the specific needs of learners based on their performance on key business quality metrics. Content can take many forms, from text to full-blown interactive multimedia, making it an engaging medium. Proactive knowledge checks — assessments, quizzes, etc. — can be designed at desired frequencies. It can also disseminate real-time process updates and critical announcements.
Gamification is an acknowledged methodology when it comes to increasing learning engagement. Embedding game elements and augmented / virtual reality into the learning environment can positively change learning behaviors, offer inspiration, enhance certain abilities and foster peer learning.
A multi-national business process management company experienced tremendous success in its adoption of microlearning, with its employees in the shipping and logistics arm rating the program 8.5 (on a scale of 10) for effectiveness.
Virtual Support Bot
A virtual subject matter expert (bot), customized for specific processes, can simulate user conversations and make information available 24/7, instantly and accurately. This is especially useful for new learners and remote workers as it eliminates wait times to resolve queries, thereby enhancing the productivity and accuracy of transactions. Advanced AI, ML and natural language processing would enable such bots to learn as they go and deliver increasingly personalized and conversational experiences. Analyzing user history, preferences, and other information, digital assistants can answer complex questions, provide recommendations, make predictions, and even provide insights and analysis on user behavior.
Learning analytics introduces data mining to the learning experience by tracking big data patterns across the users’ universe. The analytics process involves the collection, measurement and analysis of that data, which could lead to effective skill mapping and performance-based business decisions. Analytics on individuals and user groups further provides inputs for new methods, structures and designs that can be implemented within the training framework.
Given that learning has evolved by leaps and bounds in the last two years, designing digital learning is a massive opportunity that takes time and commitment. Vision, skills, incentives, resources and action plans must harmonize perfectly and with minimal workflow disruption. Therefore, it is ideal for companies to leverage tested and proven digital learning journeys that maximize personalization, engagement, scalability and consistency.
Know how the digital training framework WNS iLearn can help you pivot to a digital-first learning ecosystem.
The keys to a successful digital transformation | McKinsey