At the start of 2013, we forecast that changes in people, technology, and business environments would drive three key corporate training trends. Now, at the midyear point, we see evidence that these trends are accelerating into game-changers for companies ready to take advantage. In keeping with our reputation of driving innovation and performance, Allen’s industry experts are tracking how these trends are performing and evolving. Or, you can see the trends in action, in the training tips sections by clicking the industries above.
People (learners) want more. Simply put, our learning audiences are more familiar with advanced technologies and strategies. They see sophisticated, responsive training incorporated into everything from smart phone apps to web design to social media. This integration of learning, branding, and point-of-need messaging is a primary driver of change. “The challenge now confronting training providers is how to meet the taste and expectation of the learner while still effectively teaching behavior change,” Ron Zamir, Allen CEO said. “Organizations should plan their 2014 budgets to allow content to be repurposed for their audience’s new expectations.”
Moving forward, we anticipate a business environment with sophisticated learners who expect instructionally sound techniques, paired with rich-media content. However, research is showing that only 39% of professional services firms plan to increase that budget in the next 12 months to emphasize employee engagement and meet these demands (Aberdeen Research). Of course, with smart strategies and the right technologies (see below), you can often improve employee engagement without additional expense.
Technology should be a resource used to create impactful training tailored to a learner’s preferences. Think of it this way: Learners know enough now to expect their key technologies to adapt to their workflows and reference habits, not the other way around. In 2013, these technology cycles have only continued to accelerate and have consequently allowed organizations to have immediate access to an arsenal of tools. “The technology is available and ready to use,” Ron Zamir, Allen CEO, said. “Technology is no longer a stumbling block but a resource waiting to be utilized.”
Recently, for example, there has been a two-fold increase in the prevalence of mobile tools for learning, highlighting that mobile is no longer a nice-to-have for learning programs but 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, “When should I do this?” but “How can I start to transition assets to newer toolsets?” This simple shift will help get to the root issue: media habits have changed, and outdated approaches will generate increasingly poor results.
Business Environment is the last key driver, and perhaps the most important. Forty-four percent of professional service organizations now define metrics in advance and 58% link employee engagement directly to profitability (Aberdeen Research). We see these numbers growing and, as training and development professionals, we feel a burden to react not only faster, but also with greater business awareness and superior analytical models.
In our view, cases where training success is measured in completions and smile sheets will become increasingly rare. The most successful companies will 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 standard. In other words, with the right vision, training leaders will play a key role in business strategy, because improved analytics will show just how vital a responsive, intelligent training strategy is to staying competitive in the marketplace. “By starting with a good needs analysis, we can identify the business outcomes of the training initiative and the key success factors for achieving those outcomes,” said Anna Sargsyan, Director of Instructional Design at Allen. “An observable and measurable business goal not only ensures that design strategies foster behavior change; it also helps organizations measure alignment of that behavior change to business results.”
For training tips that take into account these industry changes, check out our Customer Education, Creative Compliance, and Retail Training section. Each includes industry examples showing how changes in people, technology and business environments can provide an opportunity to create training that will positively impact an organization. And don’t worry if you’re not directly involved in any one of these industries—often, the most creative approaches come from unexpected sources.