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Comment Learning technologies

Looking Ahead

Laura Overton on the implications of a technology-driven future for L&D

on the surface – similar to today: speed of change, customer retention, revenue growth and efficiency. The learning technology landscape, however, was very different. Wikipedia was a toddler, LinkedIn had just been launched but there was no Twitter or Facebook, iPhones or iPads.


Over the last decade, the L&D industry has been busy taking practical steps towards online learning. Today the CIPD show us that 74 per cent of organisations now use some form of eLearning, and we have become comfortable with how technology enables the delivery of learning and automate standard offerings. We still have catalogues of courses – only now they are accessed via the LMS and are an hour long instead of a day. We still have PowerPoint lectures but now we can access them virtually. We’ve learned how to make learning efficient – but is this enough?

Technology driving business change When I think about the future of L&D, I fear that many L&D professionals will be in for a shock! In all other aspects of business life, technology is completely turning the way we work inside out. Business leaders are aware that technology is a driving force.

en years ago, when we gathered insights for our first report ‘Linking Learning to Business’, the business challenges driving change were –

Across the private, public and not-for-

profit sectors, products and services are being redefined and reinvented as a result of rapid technology change. Look at banks and the travel industry – at a minimum, they must offer new ways of checking balances, and now we can pay directly from our mobile phones. Customer retention is as critical as ever but today the way businesses understand and connect with customers has fundamentally changed. Early findings from this year’s IBM C-Suite study indicates that developing an indepth understanding of customers and creating a consistent experience across all customer touch points is a top concern. The internet is an incredibly rich source of information to help understand and meet the needs of customers at an individual level. No wonder the idea of big data is keeping execs awake at night – those that can turn data into insight and insight into action will always remain one step ahead of competitors. Speed, change, performance, nimbleness and agility are all watchwords for the future of business and these have been driven by technology. If this is true for the businesses we serve, how much more so for the future L&D department?

The future of business is the future of corporate L&D The future of corporate L&D is inextricably intertwined with the future of business – if technology is driving change in our

businesses, we have to be open to the fact that it is also driving change in the way that people learn and grow. If CEOs are kept awake at night by the fact that business change is required to meet customer expectations, then L&D professionals need to wake up to the needs of their own customers. Towards Maturity have gathered insights

from over 2,900 organisations around the globe to help us understand how technology is impacting learning and how that technology-enabled learning is impacting business. The top-performing learning organisations are equipped to respond to change. They are not afraid to take risks, to experiment, or to fail. They are willing to challenge previous assumptions and models, to listen to the real needs of the learner and the business and create simple solutions that get the job done. They understand how essential it is to keep up to date, constantly honing skills by taking advantage of relevant benchmarking and CPD opportunities. The future of learning will be shaped by those passionate about business performance and committed to building the skills and confidence of their staff. n


Laura Overton is managing director of Towards Maturity

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