Thursday, August 01, 2013

Launch of our new 9-Grid™ model mapping LMS and e-learning provision in the UK and EMEA

We're pleased to announce the launch of a new and unique insight into the European (EMEA) learning and talent market. Our new 9-Grid™ models for Learning Management Systems (LMS) and Bespoke E-learning Development are based on independent analysis and insights through our corporate research network of over 150 organisations including BP, Lloyds Banking Group, Rolls Royce and Vodafone.

We created the 9-Grid™ approach in response to the lack of depth and flexibility provided by existing analyst models, which are typically US-focused and don't really reflect market differences in the UK and Europe. And we know from experience that this leaves a vacuum for buyers trying to decide which LMS and e-learning solutions best meet their needs. The 9-Grid™ for Bespoke E-learning Development is the first of its kind to profile the performance of companies within this market sector. And the 9-Grid™ for LMS is the first European specific market view.

The aim of both models is to demonstrate the relative value of the solutions available in the market based on five levels of insight; Performance, Potential, Market Presence, Total Cost of Ownership and Elearnity’s own expectations on how the trajectory of performance and potential might change in the future.

It's all about context
One of the notable elements of 9-Grid™ is that there is intrinsic value in all the zones on the model – not just the top right! The model highlights how different solutions will suit different types of organisation, and in particular, the relative trade-off between a vendors positioning with their total cost of ownership. So buyers can gain an understanding of how LMS’s and different e-learning providers compare, but also more importantly, how to match the available solutions to their own context and goals.

Fitting the right vendor with your specific needs is a vital ingredient for success, but up until now, there has been very little independent analysis that accurately reflects the market, especially for UK and EMEA organisations. Most other analyst models are US-centric and therefore can be of limited real value to organisations in Europe seeking to make the best decision about which learning and talent technologies to invest in.

In terms of Bespoke E-learning Development, we are talking about a vibrant market that has never had any real research resource of this type. Companies are investing considerable time and effort in sourcing their solutions, and that’s why we’ve created the 9-Grid™ - to help them find the right partners and spend their budgets in the most appropriate way. We believe in providing the audience on this side of the Atlantic with analysis and insights that are specific and relevant to their needs and organisational context.

The two 9-Grid™ models released today are the first in a series from us focusing on the main segments of the learning and talent market. So look out for further 9-Grid™ models later in 2013, including for Integrated Talent Management and for E-Learning Authoring Platforms, with others to follow.

Click here to download your free copy of the 9-Grid™ for LMS and click here for your free copy of the 9-Grid™ for Bespoke E-learning.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Workplace learning: what does it mean to you?

During our Symposium event in May, we took the opportunity to run a session on workplace learning. It’s interesting that this seems to be a term which provokes different interpretations across the L&D spectrum. To some, it’s an all encompassing term that applies to everything that happens within learning and development. To others, it means more of a performance support approach and focuses on learning that occurs on the job, perhaps supported by a manager or coach. Definitions included that it’s on-the-job, hands-on, and peer to peer and something you don’t need to leave your desk for. The final interpretation was that it refers to the informal learning that people will do during their day to day role, which has nothing to do with the L&D department at all. Just goes to show the importance of clarifying a phrase before entering a discussion!

Of course, learning is something that’s always taken place and doesn’t necessarily need formal L&D interventions. This particular session wasn’t focused on informal vs formal learning per se. It was about how technology can help deliver learning in the workplace, and there were lots of interesting contributions. So with that in mind, how do learning technologies actually fit in?

Tapping into business as usual
Many of the technologies being utilised for workplace learning aren’t necessarily learning technologies. They are instead existing solutions being harnessed for learning. One L&D team referenced how their organisation’s intranet is being used to create communities of practice and wikis for example. In these scenarios, learners can reflect on their experiences and this provides a resource to share with others and hopefully improve future performance. Learners are accessing posts and comments from their peers, without feeling that they are officially ‘learning’ at all. Another organisation talked about how Yammer has been adopted across their organisation and is used on a daily basis to answer questions and find out information. Again, this is an example of learning embedded within workflow, a part that learners are essentially unaware of. There were learning systems that could be used to support learning in the workflow, especially when it referred to IT systems and several companies had used employee performance support systems (EPSS) to embedd learning within systems so that help was available at the point of need. Other companies used searchable online libraries to support just in time access to information. Within certain industries there was also a formal need to log learning, due to CPD/CPE schemes, so technology was being used to support this process.

Blue skies thinking
There were however, ideas from attendees about how some current and new technologies that have their roots in learning can be better utilised in the workplace. Incorporating work based exercises and assignments into elearning for example, where the aim is for learners to apply their knowledge in their day to day role, so the experience becomes more contextual, and has relevance outsideof a standard ‘course’.

But other more radical ideas arose, including the possibility in the future of using Google Glasses. Could these be used to help workplace learning, and provide on-the-spot information when it was most neeeded? It’s certainly an interesting idea! Also the concept of using Mozilla’s Open Badges to encourage people to share their workplace learning achievements was mooted. There was though, surprisingly little awareness of the Open Badge initiative in the room. Being able to show achievements through sites like LinkedIn was also a very popular idea.

One of the recurring themes of the session, and something we hear all the time in our work as industry analysts, is that the IT department's involvement and buy-in can make or break learning initiatives.

Beyond the technology lay a more existential question about L&D’s involvement with the attendees’ definition of workplace learning. It is often said that learning will happen with or without L&D and this session demonstrates the truth in that. So that begs the questions, where does accountability sit for workplace learning? If it happens anyway, why should L&D get involved? Does it become the responsibility of line managers to shape experiences and provide resources in this area?

The overwhelming answer has to be that L&D needs to be part of the workplace learning mix. Some learning – such as checking Google or watching a YouTube video – is bound to happen without any input from the L&D department. But if it’s to remain relevant as a function then some of the work being done around blended solutions and learning technologies has to become a part of what is termed ‘workplace learning’. To regard it as a separate discipline or as an activity that has nothing to do with L&D is potentially dangerous and detrimental to the future of the profession.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Innovation in learning and talent: is there any really happening out there?

At our recent Symposium event, one of the sessions focused on innovation in learning and talent and it was a discussion that yielded some interesting results. One of the first things that became apparent was the differing levels of knowledge regarding innovations in the learning technology space. Some attendees had very limited awareness of innovations, even those that have had a fair amount of publicity, such as Open Badges or the TinCan API, while others were actively assessing the opportunities offered and identifying pilot opportunities. It clearly illustrated that there is quite a difference in how much L&D professionals are focussing on the latest trends and how much they matter to them (or they have the time to dedicate to this beyond managing the demands of their immediate day job).

One of the earliest and most valid points made during the session is that innovation is really all about context. What feels groundbreaking for one organisation is not innovative at all by another’s standards! What seems mundane in one organisation is groundbreaking in another. Many learning technology teams are hampered in their quest for innovation either by the broader organisational culture, resistance in the wider L&D community or by a lack of budget to pilot opportunities. It’s a fact that some organisations struggle to embrace change as readily as others, so something that really starts to “push the boundaries” can feel risky, both to the senior management, as well as the learners themselves. Also with the rate of change in business today there could be something said for allowing an innovation to be truly embedded before investing time and effort elsewhere. Hans de Zwart from Shell has created an interesting “Innovation Manifesto” to help an area of the business be more innovative.

Beam me up...

When asked about their innovations, one attendee working for an engineering company described a room with a Star Trek-esque holo deck built especially for training simulations and experiential learning. Clearly this was a significant investment by the company (and needless to say most people were impressed!) but there were other innovations, that although more modest, had greater appeal across all sectors and industries.

One such example was an internal feedback app that’s been developed for use in the classroom. It’s designed to be used on mobile devices during live training sessions so that learners can give their feedback in real time on what’s working and what’s not. Trainers can then adapt their content and the direction of the session as they go to maximize the value of the sessions. This was very popular amongst attendees and appealed due to its simplicity and relative ease of implementation.

Another straightforward ‘innovation’ included transitioning from paper based training materials to using mobile devices. A simple calculation comparing the the savings on printed training materials versus thecost of purchasing iPads was all that was needed in one organisation. The saving was worked out to be more than enough and the tablets are now being used to support classroom training with great feedback from learners.

It’s not just about the technology

An excellent point was made about half way through the session that innovation doesn’t have to be about technology. One organisation is completely changing its L&D processes to a more blended approach and the innovation here is much more about strategy and behaviour change than the use of any new learning technologies.

Overall it was felt that innovations in our everyday life – both technological and behavioural – mean that L&D has no choice but to at least try to innovate in order to try and keep up with the broader changes as a whole. The availability of free content for example means that L&D has the new role of curator as well as creator of information and resources. Whilst we might use curation tools to help us to do this, the skill set is actually more around filtering and prioritising which information to share and which to pass by, rather than being about the technologies themselves.

What was concerning was that very few of those attended had a structured process for managing innovation and moving solutions from a research phase through to pilot and then to deployment. This is something we have advised some organisations on and have a structured 5 stage process for managing innovation, moving from “Ones to Watch” through to “Business as Usual”. There are clear business rules regarding how innovations move from each stage and suggested actions for those in each category. This helps organisations prioritise their efforts and clearly articulate why some innovations are worth investigating earlier than others.

Don’t believe the hype

For many of the participants, despite much of the hype around learning and talent innovations such as Avatars, MOOCs, Open Badges, TinCan and even mobile learning, there was little evidence on display that these are a priority. However, the concepts behind these innovations – collaboration, learner rewards and recognition, greater access and flexibility – are of interest. But the organisations represented in this session were not overly concerned about keeping up with the Jones’s or being an early adopter of the newest solutiuons. Whilst some saw the benefits of being first, many also identified the inherent risks involved too.

Instead, the focus is very much on ‘Can this innovation truly help L&D deliver better value to its customers’? Where technology, change and innovation can demonstrate its worth (and L&D can clearly articulate this) then it will happen (budget allowing) but innovation for innovations’ sake, I‘m glad to say, seems not to be a fad that we’ll be writing about any time soon.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Cross-border Learning and Talent in Europe

Whether it’s a talent strategy, management process or a solution, what does cross-European or global deployment really mean?

Does it mean responding to the diversity of peoples and cultures in different countries and businesses or the imposition on of a single overarching and mandated approach for all?  Does it mean single, homogenous processes or the provision of frameworks that allow local organisations to flourish?  And what is the fine line that separates them?  And makes them efficient and effective?

The sad fact for many strategic Learning and Talent initiatives is that they are focused on homogenised, mono cultures and standardised approaches rather than the realities and needs or different geographies and market maturities.  The common response to diversity is not differentiation – but to drive conformity.  The problem is that this conformity may not just be inappropriate, it may be illegal - for example if it breaks German Workers Council rules or French regulatory reporting requirements. 

Also, do you really need mature bureaucratic processes,  when part of the company you are servicing is effectively a “start-up”?  Whilst they might be right for a mature business, they could just be the thing that stifles growth for an embryonic new part of your business. This is one of the biggest challenges for the delivery of cross-organisational talent strategies.

How do you enable businesses in a way that is focussed on their operating realities, but get the efficiencies of a standardised approach?  How do you impose symmetry and consistency onto an inconsistent and asymmetrical world?  Even though HR often tries, is it even possible? 

A good example, of this is the instigation of a global, HR shared services operations as part of the Ulrich Model.  Many global HR operations use this model as their foundation and the creation of central, single processing model for HR transactions – serviced within a global HR shared services group. 

Whilst this may be all well and good for controlling the costs associated with managing HR, and be the dominant received wisdom for how HR operates; blindly following this approach, especially on a cross-European or global basis can drive some very dubious decisions.  Top of the tree for this is Performance Management.  HR frequently instigates annual appraisal processes that feed bonus payments and compensation and rewards.  A standardised approach, with one size fits all.  But the nature of those processes is often frequently at odds with the speed of business – you only have to look at sales targets and structures needed to support dynamic and fast moving sales cycles. 

So why wouldn’t you look to create differentiated approaches for other groups too? The answer has been partly because the service model and supporting systems are unable to support the necessary diversity of process and approach. 

In recent years things have changed significantly.  Solutions have become much more configurable and more flexible – without needing high costs of external consultants to set things up for you.  But the legacy view of ERP-style HR systems runs deep reinforcing the desire from some (often IT) for mono-answers to Talent and Learning questions, deployed globally. Whilst these stagnant approaches are deeply entrenched in the corporate psyche, we will continue to need to ask:

  • Why do pan-European projects fail to engage local audiences effectively?
  • Why do so few global companies really build effective cross-geography learning and talent deployment strategies that can deal with multiple languages, legal and cultural differences?
  • How can local business driven and the centralised learning and talent needs really be accommodated by philosophies and systems that champion cost efficiency at the cost of effectiveness.
  • Where the answers to these questions remain unsatisfactorily, the proliferation of local or departmental solutions rather than true cross-organisational solutions will continue to be a huge issue.

David Wilson, Elearnity’s founder and Managing Director, will be discussing Elearnity’s research on the realities and strategies for cross-European Talent and Learning at a webinar with NetDimensions on June 26th at 2pm BST. Click here for registration.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Metrics That Matter – Reflections from our Elearnity Roundtable Event

What metrics matter when measuring learning & talent?

At our Symposium roundtable last month one of the hot topics for discussion and debate was "What Metrics Matter when measuring Learning and Talent Development (L&TD) and how does that differ from what L&D, in particular, typically measure.  I had the pleasure of facilitating the discussion and taking the notes.   

Below is a sense of how the conversation evolved.  Naturally, the names and company references have been removed to protect the innocent and guilty...

So, What Metrics Matter?


Whilst L&D typically, and some might say predictably, measure themselves through training quality questionnaires, volumetrics of delivery and measure competencies,  to assess the capability of their organisation.  What was interesting was this measurement became more opaque as we moved closer to exploring the tangible business results that L&TD efforts actually deliver.

There was an interesting pooling of consensus between those who would argue that L&TD can never deliver definitive outcomes and those who would say that if you don’t have a measurable business impact – then your whole operation is totally questionable.

The view was, that ultimately all of the, navel gazing about quality of learning experience is an necessary evil – it is an important part of the L&TD professionals arsenal to validate the quality of that they do.  So, whilst it would be easy to belittle their importance they are essential.

The issue is do they  REALLY matter?


The thoughts were that, Yes they do – but they aren’t the priority.  Any customer should be instrumental in shaping their services through feedback.   But, is it what the business wants?  On one level it is.  But there was a BIG BUT!  Whilst, providing quality and volume is part of issue, the really BIG elephant in the room is -  Does what you do make a difference to the performance of your business?

If it didn’t, clearly you are on rocky ground, pure and simple, because if you aren’t making a real impact with your resources, then your competitors inevitably will.  And, the really big risk is that by failing to focus on the outcomes, and focussing too much on the inputs, you eventually get "out-competed" in your market place.   So, whilst there is serendipity to learning that means people make connections and can make massive leaps – this should not be at the cost of not investing in planned and impactful L&TD interventions.  We can’t trust in chance.  Yes, we need the freedom to encourage a learning culture, and elements of open development, but we also need to deliver targeted, measurable and tangible business results.

So again...  what metrics matter?


Interestingly, in order to target efforts effectively and efficiently, L&TD need to start to harness BIG and little data – you need benchmarks of “real” business performance, “real analysis” of what creates business success.  Not to create a cookie cutter of employees, but to provide them with the additional knowledge, tools and techniques that will help them succeed, and to quickly skill your teams to take advantage of new opportunities.

The issue for L&TD is, they seldom have the skills or access to the real business performance data (as opposed to HR performance data), to help dig into the big issues and provide truly effective performance development consulting.

And this means we will continue to struggle to effectively target our resources and investment in what will really transform our businesses.  Having and using this information is a massive opportunity to really propel our organisations.  But, whilst we rely on our hearts and gut intuition about what we should be doing, and until we have real data and strong analysis to support our decisions – it was really only ever guess work – and guess work is rarely the basis of a successful business.

And with something as potentially transformational as Learning – what are we missing out on if we were only guessing, and at best, following the crowd?

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Blended Learning : Piece by Piece

At our recent Symposium one of the roundtable sessions I facilitated was on blended learning and what does this look like in corporate organisations in 2013. I was interested to see if the changes in learning and technology over the last couple of years had filtered down to the solutions that organisations are developing.

The term blended learning has always struck me as strange. Apart from making me think of cocktails, the image that springs to mind is one of producing consistency and uniformity with individual elements almost losing their identity to create the finished product. The best blended solutions, in my mind, are more like jigsaws with every element being carefully designed to fit snugly next its surrounding pieces and the whole being greater than the sum of its parts.

What became clear very early on in the roundtable was that it is still difficult to create a good blended solution. It takes skill and time and often both of these are in short supply. Interestingly, one of the major obstacles was still felt to be the skills in the wider learning and development teams and their reluctance to incorporate online learning (in all its formats) into the blend. Some of this was due to lack of skills / understanding and some was felt to be due to an element of self interest and the need to preserve a reliance on classroom based solutions. Some companies have recognised the lack of internal expertise and outsourced the design process, although even in this case there still needs to be an element of involvement from the internal team. Others have tackled it head on and have introduced programmes to upskill team members.

As well as resistance from within the L&D community there can also be reluctance from learners themselves and often those present experienced extremes; where people in the same job roles and section of the organisation would go from whole-heartedly embracing the blend to rejecting it. It just shows that however carefully you develop the blend, you are unlikely to please everyone! What is particularly frustrating are learners who embrace technology with open arms in their private life but reject it in a corporate setting. Clearly for some people there are very different drivers in a social context versus a work one.

In terms of the benefits of blending there were two clear camps during the debate. One side saw the reason behind blending being about improving choice and putting the learner in charge. By giving people a choice they can select the elements of the blend that work best for them and fit with their needs and context. Blending is a means to making learning more accessible, flexible and aligned to the needs of the learner. This choice relates to the depth of learning required, as well as the choice of method. The other viewpoint was that blending is meeting the needs of the learner and it is less about offering choice but more about meeting the needs of the business, with blended solutions allowing people to improve their perform quicker and more efficiently. As one attendee said “Often there is no choice to blend. With time to competence shortening dramatcically there is the need deliver learning in the most effective and efficient manner. This often necessitates a blend with a mix of face to face and online methods”. Disappointingly there was little evidence of organisations measuring the success of the blend or identifying the value of differing components.

Is there a perfect blend?

There was general acceptance across the group, in line with current thinking, that organisations should adopt a more resource driven approach rather than structured courses. This is especially true for online solutions where more and more is being delivered as short nuggets in audio, video or text format. The role of learning and development professionals is becoming more focused on the curation of resources, rather than their creation. Although interestingly the group did not raise the challenges this presents within the community to have the skillset to do this effectively. How do you choose what are the best resources? How do you align these in a meaningful manner to help create effective learning pathways?

What was perhaps surprising for a group of professionals who are used to evangelising the use of technology was the need to recognise the importance of face to face contact in the blend. This though did not have to be classroom based and many participants discussed the importance that coaching and mentoring has in blended solutions. The role of technology is an enabler. What is really vital is to embed the behaviours to make blended learning successful. Learners must feel comfortable learning independently and the learning team has an important role in supporting them.

So what were the main things I would take away from the discussion?
• Blending is something that is well established in major organisations but many still find it difficult and the perfect blend probably doesn’t exist so don’t waste time trying to find it.

• Successful blended learning is an art not a science – context is important to understand whether your solution will be successful. Think carefully about the culture and the skills of the learners to engage with your blend. Don’t rush the process and think carefully about why you are including components and what /whose needs they are meeting.

• Successful solutions are about every component adding value. Focus on the outputs and remember to meet the business drivers for the blend – don’t blend for the sake of it!

Clearly there is now much more than ever, the opportunity to include technology elements in the blend and organisations are starting to grasp the opportunities that this offers. I’m certain as emerging approaches such as mobile learning becomes more embedded in organisations this will become a standard part of the mix. These opportunities though come with their own challenges and learning teams have to think through more clearly their role in creating successful blends and how they measure the value that these deliver, especially as more and more will involve informal learning methods.

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.

Friday, April 19, 2013

1/3rd of Corporates - FAIL - to get a Positive Impact from their LMS!

With two weeks to go until it closes - Our Customer Satisfaction Survey is throwing up some interesting results.

Initial data is pointing to the fact that at least one third of organisations are failing to make a positive impact with their Learning Management Systems.

Business impact is clearly a a critical measure of success for any system. And it is concerning that, so far, our research is highlighting how low satisfaction levels can be with  some LMS deployments - especially as others appear to be getting it right.

As we dig deeper into the responses, I expect we'll find some interesting correlations between different suppliers  -  both positive and negative.  Until now there has't been a way for users to share the realities of working with different learning solutions.  So, with a couple of weeks left until the survey closes, there is still time for customers to have their say and bring some much needed transparency to the European Learning Technology market.
Importantly - only corporate participants who complete the survey will be provided with free access to the Summary Report when  released later in the year.

The research remains open for until 03 May 2013 and can be accessed via our website.

You've got to be in it, to get it!  So - get involved!

The Survey can be reach through the following link:


Thursday, March 14, 2013

"I can't get No (European) Satisfaction" ?

Who provides the best customer satisfaction for Learning Technology in Europe?

CSAT 2013
You would think that it's a relatively easy question to answer, but unfortunately it isn't. 

You can, with the right conversations, build an anecdotal view.  And true lots of vendors conduct "private" surveys and there are sporadic "global surveys".  

But, as we know from the debacle over Apple's Maps - the real issue is how well an application operates in your region.  Service delivery and solutions capabilities often vary - considerably - from region to region. And, in reality, most of the Customer Surveys you can access for Learning Technology are heavily focused on a North American view.

So, whilst the suppliers typically hoard any customer feedback, never to be seen in public, what is there that enables you, the European learning technology buyer, to understand who provides the best customer satisfaction; in an objective sense, both in terms of solutions and service?

Until now there hasn't really been anything.

And that is why Elearnity are launching an independent survey of customer satisfaction  for Learning Technology focused predominantly on the experience of European customers.  

Why are we doing this? 

Put simply - To help provide much needed transparency to how European customers rate their learning technology - with the goal of helping all providers raise standards.   

Nothing ever changed by the voice of the customer being stifled or hidden.  

If you want to help suppliers improve standards - have your say. 

 If you want to have your voice heard, do it in our independent survey.  

Simply follow the attached link and start to share your views.

An initial Summary Report is planned to be released in Q2 2013.  

All corporate customers who complete the survey will be sent a copy of the Summary Report.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

The Learning Technologies 2013 Head Bang!!

Earlier this week we once again found ourselves at the Learning Technogies conference in Olympia. We’ve presented many times at the conference and are always delighted to go along as it is a great opportunity to share our thoughts and also hear from the attendees their view on what is happening in corporate learning. 

Image courtesy of @learnpatch

This year though, when David was invited to talk in the conference, we were determined to do things a little differently, instead of  just doing yet another presentation.  All too often at learning and development events, we talk about the need to shake things up, u!se technology and do things differently...whilst sticking to the tried and tested  PowerPoint slide deck. Not so this year!

David initially had the idea of an ‘ask the analyst’ session. Our day job revolves around us providing independent objective analysis and insight on the learning and talent market. We live and breathe this stuff every day. We know from our research and from many previous conversations at Learning Technologies and similar events, that many people find it difficult to get the best out of their learning systems and struggle to achieve the outcomes they want.

So we wanted to do a Q&A style session, that was a given. But then we started to think about how to make things as dynamic as possible, and involve people who could not attend the event but who would be  following the event’s back channel .

The obvious answer was to use Twitter. Rather than us posing the questions, we would ask attendees and others interested to pose them via Twitter and then pick interesting questions live during the session.  So we set up Tweet Wall using Tweet Wally  and our own hashtag #LT13headbang. We asked the audience what bugs them about their learning systems and got some great responses!

After a short intro from us, the room broke off into groups to come up with some questions for us. Tweets also started coming in from people following on the back channel too. Some were more comments and airings of frustration. Others were specific to individual organisations. Here are some examples ...

There’s no consistent experience for the learner ...and no integrated data to help planners, managers, designers etc

At times appear to have been designed with developers thinking i.e. without sophistication of useable workflow

Amount of clicks it takes to get to the learning!


Best in show?

There were a number of questions around which vendor/system is the best.

There’s not a straightforward answer to this and it’s something we try and address in our Vendor Perspectives ( as requirements will differ across different organisations. With all learning systems, it is vital to understand the context of their use, before narrowing down options. We’re not being evasive,  just transparent.

There are some factors that are always important to consider: total cost of ownership, ease of delivery, solution capability(aligned to your needs)  and the customer/user experience. Always try to evaluate a potential solution based on these criteria.

There was some great input from the audience too such as ‘A lot of the experience of these systems come from what data youput in iand how you use it’ and ‘Think about the vendors like a partner! You'll be stuck with them for a long time so better like working with them!’ as well as ‘Ask for evidence of the vendor’s claims’. It’s definitely just not as straightforward as picking a ‘best of breed’ solution and hoping for the best!


Technology trends

We discussed how a number of years ago, customisation of learning systems was commonplace. But over the years, customer organisations have realised this is a) potentially expensive and b) limiting in terms of tying themselves into one particular vendor. 

With the rise of the Cloud based solutions  (Over 75% of new learning system deployment  are now Cloud based ),configuration is king and customisation is becoming a thing of the past.  The level of flexibility in deploying the system is just another factor to consider when evaluating which system is right for you.  But Cloud is not a magic wand . Updates from multi-tenant Cloud providers are made en masse which doesn’t always suit everyone. Cloud and SaaS give you automatic innovation, but you have to manage that innovation too. That’s an overhead that not everyone understands.

One question which brought a smile to our face was when someone  asked ‘Are LMS’s a little bit 90s?’ In terms of trends, there has been some kick back against the LMS in recent years, and in some ways the expected demise of the LMS has been rather overplayed. Organisations might not like their LMS, but many of their business drivers are making the LMS more important not less. More compliance, more focus on cost efficiency, more focus on strategic capability and integrated talent. None of these factors is reducing the need for the LMS and our research shows that large corporate organisations still value the data and functionality they provide .

The flip side though is that in most cases, LMS’s are not what you might call a thing of beauty! Most companies have multiple LMS’s and the user experience is not consistent or good. They also only manage some parts of the learning in an organisation – and not even all of the formal learning. This has to change and LMS’s have to be better.

The vast majority of our corporate research network members  are trying to improve how they use their LMS and it is clear that there still significant steps to be made to make learning systems more user friendly and simpler to use. The recent acquisitions in the market of LMS vendors by much larger HR systems players has only reinforced the importance of learning management systems and further cemented their inclusion as part of a wider HR systems  architecture.


E-learning and 70:20:10?

One question was on how much of the 70:20:10 model should be provided by e-learning.

Whilst the 70:20:10 definitely model has merits (see our previous blog post below) , it’s perhaps not very helpful to break down how much of it should specifically be e-learning. Online learning solutions could be used to support all elements of the model. It all depends on what is right for your organisation, culturally as well as technically .

Of course, the new Tin Can API is going to be an interesting development in terms of its impact on learning management systems and the increased flexibility it will provide in tracking more informal learning activities. With the new standard due out in April, it will be interesting to see the real impact.


What Next?

As we didn’t get to answer all the questions on the day, we’re going to tackle some on the blog over the coming weeks to provide some more indepth commentary . Other questions included ‘What do you do when your LMS vendor gets acquired?’ and ‘What five LMS features consistently deliver the most value to the learner?’ and ‘Where does a social learning platform fit within an LMS?’. Plus several cropped up around mobile learning

We’re also launching some research during February to find out how satisfied you are with your learning solutions and providers . We want to hear the good, the bad and the ugly! So keep your eyes peeled for that.

Thanks to everyone who came along to our session and those who participated from afar. It was fun to do something different and we hope you enjoyed it too.