Stop the sticking plaster approach to learning technologies, says leading analyst

A tactical approach to implementing learning technologies is hampering the digital transformation of organisations, according to a leading market analyst.

European learning and HR analyst Fosway Group, recently released its latest analysis of the learning technology market. Called the 9-Grid, the analyst positions technology vendors against a range of criteria that helps buyers decide which vendor to do business with. Their insights show the relevance and capability of a vendor to deliver on an organisation’s learning technology requirements.

Fosway analysis is based on a range of data and insights from users and briefings from the vendors themselves. Its latest 9-Grid for learning looks at digital learning providers, learning systems providers and authoring tool providers.

Fosway CEO, David Wilson, says that the pressure on L&D to go digital means that the profession has to move away from tactical decision making to a more strategic approach when investing in technology.

Wilson: "For all of the froth that exists around learning technology, the fundamental speed of change of organisations to really embrace it has been very slow."

Wilson: “For all of the froth that exists around learning technology, the fundamental speed of change of organisations to really embrace it has been very slow.”

“L&D has to change and evolve faster than it’s done in the past. It’s a relatively conservative function and has a tendency to take a sticking plaster approach towards the way it’s invested in things like learning technology. With the digitalization of businesses as a whole, I think there is a significant pressure on L&D to be able to move faster.

“History shows that L&D is used to making tactical investments in learning technologies, sourcing solutions in an on-demand way.”

Wilson says this approach has to stop. “The learning technology market is littered with tactical investments in bits of technology that turn out not to work very well. There are plenty of examples of corporates that are on their nth generation attempt to try to get their LMS to work, or they’ve got 16 different authoring tools.”

So what does a more strategic approach look like? For starters, the sticking plaster approach has to go. What we need is learning transformation which affects the entire business and is therefore more holistic. This has to be L&D’s agenda, not buying in technology to solve one issue in one part of the business.

The idea of digital transformation also requires L&D teams to embrace the fact that digital learning is so much more than elearning. Digital is not simply a way of delivering content.

“Learning is becoming much more diversified and digitally led, and that means not just digitally delivered, but digitally accessed and digitally specified,” says Wilson. “When we talk about digital retail and digital banking we are not just talking about the digital delivery of services, it’s actually the whole way in which you think about them, engage with them, contract for them, as well as deliver them.”

How close is the industry to achieve transformation? There is a long way to go. Wilson says that most training spend is still on face to face delivery. And newer areas of digital learning, such as mobile and video, account for relatively small amounts of learning budgets.

The fact is that, despite the hype and excitement around technology, L&D has been slow to embrace tech innovation.

“For all of the froth that exists around learning technology, the fundamental speed of change of organisations to really embrace it has been very slow, and certainly on a strategic level.”

Wilson says that L&D has to properly engage with what learning transformation means and to understand the impact of all of this on the content supply chain, the systems people need and the skill set of the learning team.

  •  The Fosway Group 9-Grid for learning can be found here.

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