Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Elearnity Symposium 2013 Highlights

The 14th May saw our annual Symposium and as promised, it was a genuinely fascinating and insightful day. We began this year (after a coffee and croissant, of course) with some interesting figures based on a survey carried out with attendees prior to the event.

The following list highlights the top priorities for learning teams in the next 12 months  

  • Improve informal and mobile capabilities
  • Leverage global platforms
  • Continued deployment of learning and talent systems
  • Enhancing talent management capabilities
  • Identify more performance support opportunities
One of the most significant changes over the last year was the increasing acceptance in organisations of the role that technology can play in supporting learning and talent solutions. This is clearly good news. It is also encouraging to see that this has been backed by a continued willingness to invest despite the need in many organisations to restrain spending.

Our roundtable breakout sessions then covered a variety of topics which are voted for by attendees ahead of the event. This is great as we know we’re covering areas that are of most relevance. There’s not room to do each of them justice here so we’ve just given you some of the highlights to give you a flavour of the discussions.  We’ll be writing in-depth blogs on each so check back here every Monday for the next six weeks to delve into the detail!

Blended learning is far from old news

Having been involved in L&D for more years than I care to remember, the term ‘blended learning’ feels like it’s been around for a long time. However, with the increasing use of technology and ongoing cuts to budget and spend, it’s probably more relevant now than ever. The approach to blending though varied enormously, ranging from those organisations that were tackling it at the organisational level (had a target of 80% of learning must be done online) through to those dealing with it through their design process (banning what it calls ‘click next’ elearning!).There is also a definite shift amongst members of our Corporate Research Network to resources (such as podcasts, simulations, videos etc) instead of courses.

Whatever approach is adopted, finding a way of blending components to create coherent solutions for learners really is key. But despite the fact that the blended concept is not new and there has been much talk of creating “learning architectures” and “learning architects” many organisations are still struggling to implement it effectively. Offering a seamless experience for the learner still appears to be challenging. Whilst it’s clear there’s no magic formula to create the optimum blend, one of the main takeaways was the importance of design and planning in the process from the outset.

Learning and talent innovation

The main message that came out of the session that focused on innovation in learning and talent is that what is considered innovative is all about context. What feels groundbreaking for some is business as usual for others.  To give you a feel of the variety examples ranged from purpose built simulation that’s been created in the style of a Star Trek holodeck to app that gathers live learner feedback in face to face training sessions. Interestingly, some of the latest industry innovations such as the Tin Can API and Open Badges are not even on the horizon for many organisations at present.
Innovations in L&D aren’t just about technology though. Several attendees discussed changing processes and encouraging learners to input ideas around L&D’s approach as their way of innovating.

Mobile: myth or reality?

Having been the subject of a lot of hype for the last couple of years, it seems mobile learning is now becoming a reality, but only for a small proportion of organisations. One or two in attendance are blazing a trail providing mobile learning that is now accessed by their learners everywhere, from their train journey into work, to sitting in the hairdressers after work.  But the majority of organisations are still overwhelmed by the technology choices which make it hard for them to choose a mobile strategy and implement it decisively. So whilst progress is being made, adoption on the whole is still relatively low.

360 degree view

With nine representatives of learning and talent providers present, the attendees had a unique opportunity to discuss with Managing Directors and CEOs how they saw the world of learning and talent changing. 

This unique formula enables buyers and practitioners to get the inside story from the vendors and their plans for ongoing development and improvement of their solutions as well as discussing key trends generally. Conversely vendors have the opportunity to hear, firsthand, the challenges being faced by major organisations. The discussions ranged from “How do companies maximize the value of adoption of existing solutions?” through to “What does the learning and talent landscape look like in 3-5 years?” The insights gained from these sessions were useful for those on both sides of the fence and we’ll be breaking some of these down in future posts so we can discuss them in more depth.

We covered so much ground throughout the day that it’s impossible to do it justice in one short review. We’re already summarising each individual session so we can provide more in-depth insights into the trends, topics and challenges discussed. You can find those here over the coming weeks and we would welcome your thoughts so we can explore the future of learning and talent together.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Real Insights ... from the horse's mouth!?

Tomorrow sees us hold our annual Symposium in London. We’re delighted to be joined by so many members of our Corporate Research Network, including organisations such as Aviva, BT, Lloyds Banking Group, Shell and Vodafone.

Hosting roundtable style events is something we’ve been doing for over 10 years now, as they’re a fantastic format for stimulating insight and debate. The Elearnity team is lucky enough to get to a lot of industry events, and it’s always interesting to hear thought leaders tell us what the next big trend is. But nothing really beats listening to those who are walking the walk and implementing learning and talent solutions in the real world. Understanding the challenges they face everyday gives us a unique edge in our research and advisory services. Most importantly though, by sharing it in a trusted environment with their peers, other organisations can learn from what’s working – and what’s not.

Ahead of this year’s event, we ran a survey which found that integrating talent, performance, and development workflows is now becoming more of a reality in major organisations. For many respondents, there is a clear focus on the delivery of global solutions through the use of one common platform. Whilst one common platform was had often been deployed, many attendees highlighted the need to embed its use and the importance of simplifying the experience for end users, often by integrating processes.   Although the learning and talent infrastructure does play a central role many respondents were also looking to the future and delivering solutions to multiple devices was seen as a critical focus area for many during the next 12 months as was moving towards more resources than online courses.  The familiar challenges of engaging stakeholders to use online technology, as well as broadening the scope of solutions, were also still viewed as important.

One of the most significant changes over the last year was the increasing corporate acceptance in the role technology can play in supporting learning and talent solutions and a continued willingness to invest despite the need in many organisation to restrain spending.

It’s encouraging to see corporate organisations continuing to significantly investing in learning and talent solutions.  Even though innovations such as mobile access will play a significant role in the future for many organisations, maximizing the value from existing solutions is clearly still an important area of focus.  For many organisations 2013 is a year of transition with learning and talent professionals being given the opportunity to reinvent online learning and talent solutions and demonstrate the value they can add to their business by integrating processes to create an improved user experience.

Themes to be covered in the corporate roundtables this year include:

  • Using technology to support workplace learning and performance support
  • The metrics that matter when measuring learning and talent
  • The realities of corporate mobile learning
  • Blended learning in corporate organisations in 2013
  • The future of learning and talent systems
  • Corporate learning and talent innovations that make a difference
So watch out for a follow-up blog series detailing the findings within each of these subject areas and useful mind maps from each session. 

As well as discussions amongst members of our Corporate Research Network, the Symposium also provides a unique approach for corporate delegates to interact and get insights from the supply-side via a rapid fire series of joint corporate/vendor roundtable sessions. Vendor participants this year are:

Assima, Cornerstone OnDemand, Epic, Kallidus, Kenexa, NetDimensions, Saba, SumTotal Systems and Unicorn Training.

Our aim is to give everyone has the opportunity to discuss their own unique challenges, putting trends and technology adoption into the context of their organisation. It’s always fascinating to see what emerges from the roundtables and gain a clearer perspective of the reality of learning and talent solutions in major organisations. The one thing we can always guarantee is it won’t be boring!

Watch out for live Twitter coverage tomorrow from Kate Graham, David Wilson and the rest of the Elearnity team; check back here for a full summary of the day and the start of our dedicated follow-up series. Click here for more details on our Corporate Research Network and Vendor Programmes, and for information of future Corporate Roundtables.