Since the dawn of time, popular decisions often mirror the voice of the majority; and hence the majority wins! It’s now quite safe to claim that the majority of the world’s population (4 billion people to be precise) is indeed online and has access to the Internet.
What’s more, over 2/3rd of the world’s population now own mobile phones. So it isn’t hyperbole to think of 2018 as the first “digital year”, especially if you go by the majority based approach.
Here’s a reimagined representation of HootSuite & We Are Social’s analysis of the human population’s online presence.
Little wonder that organizations are scrambling to transform or augment so many of their workflows from offline to online. From sales & marketing, to audit, compliance and customer service. And yes, even employee training & development.
"Organizations across industries are leveraging digital learning in small, experimental approaches across the employee lifecycle and across business requirements."
According to the ATD, employees will increasingly expect and rely on their mobile devices (phones and tablets) to discover and apply operational knowledge and learning content on the job. As the monthly data traffic on mobile continues to grow, organizations are already using multiple mobile apps for various requirements, including training. While digital learning initially started as information dissemination on mobile, organizations are evolving to more thought through approaches that make better use of disciplines such as microlearning, design thinking, instruction design, gamification and data science, to name a few.
The rise of some of these disciplines has also resulted in a new term that is relevant to digital learning.
While learning content is all about the learning objectives, the design of the content, content curation and the like, learning delivery is about ensuring high engagement, completion and learning effectiveness
Much like user experience in any application, the learning experience, or LX is a continuous journey where leveraging game design, data science and strong learning content can make all the difference between a great digital learning journey and a poorly designed one.
Business leaders and learning & development executives are shifting many business objectives on the digital agenda, including how they leverage digital learning. As the earlier graph had illustrated, the focus on digital learning also is about improving customer interactions – from sales to customer service.
This often results in straddling between achieving better sales productivity, improving product & process knowledge and enhancing customer service or customer experience.
When it comes to sales and product knowledge, organizations have implemented digital learning as early on in the employee lifecycle as pre-onboarding or the time usually between accepting an offer and joining the company. This can be a vital time to engage with new employees as it signals the value which the organization places on new joiners and also ensures they can be enabled faster than before, resulting in a lower time to productivity.
Similarly, organizations have made great progress in transforming the digital agenda in the area of customer service and customer experience. However, with the rise of omni-channel engagement, bots and other ways that customers have come to interact with brands, getting the human interaction of customer service right is now more important than ever.
A learning mid-sized but fast growing Indian Bank is working double shifts to ensure employees across the bank understand what it means to be customer centric. Leveraging digital is a great force multiplier to ensure a consistent awareness sets in across the bank and that messages are targeted and retargeted much like how digital marketers target customers with deals and discounts.
While digital learning is poised to grow further in 2018, there are still a vast number of companies that are yet to either embark on their maiden digital learning voyage or step up from their existing digital learning approach to further improve learning effectiveness.
So what are the factors and considerations that L&D leaders and business executives need to focus on and make a case for digital learning?
Depending on current practices and expected outcomes, there would be three broad categories in which leaders would need to deliberate and build a case for how digital learning can be beneficial.
Much like how eLearning did not replace traditional learning, organizations would do well to know that traditional or classroom training is still an important element in their learning strategy and that digital learning should augment (not replace) classroom learning. To that end, we should expect reduced classroom training sessions which are blended by digital learning as a sustenance mechanism.
Learning content, be it in classroom, elearning or digital learning format would continue to be the center of focus. Despite the ubiquity of content on the Internet, well-structured and creative content will still be valued and play an influential role in the success of any digital learning solution.
While new learning platforms will continue to mushroom, focus would be equally split between what is the learning content and how will it be consumed or experienced by learners. While some organizations will first focus on procuring LMS or digital platforms and then create or purchase content, an equal number of organizations will focus on an integrated digital learning solution, which stiches together the platform and content to provide a unified learning experience.
With employees being asked to download more and more organization-based apps, business executives will be forced to think about how to integrate their digital learning solutions with other core business apps to reduce redundancies and increase workflow efficiency. Scope of integrations will also evolve from seamless login to accurate data reporting via a unified interface.
As leaders expect digital learning to produce more velocity, variety and volume of data on how employees learn, this would translate to showcasing learning effectiveness more clearly and consistently than before. If executed well, this data driven approach can become a sustainable competitive advantage for organizations, especially in an age where the workforce will consistently have to learn, relearn and unlearn skills at a frenzied pace to keep ahead of automation and other new technologies.