L&D Best Practices

Digital (Learning) Readiness: a call for L&D action

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Digital Learning Readiness

Digitization is seriously challenging today’s business world and the way we live, work and relate to one another. The pace of technological change is accelerating and disrupts our current business models (although creating new inspiring ones). Many companies and their workforce are challenged in terms of location, roles and capabilities. Will we indeed have 50% less business process workers and 500% more digital business jobs by 2018 as Gartner (2015) predicts ? Is corporate L&D doing what it can and should be doing to build the future workforce? How ready are our organizations for the digital disruption?

Business professionals recognize that digital technology is reshaping the way people work. Donnelly advises employers to consider hiring talent for behavior and attitude—not qualifications—and then provide the training needed to acquire the skills (2016).  Employees need to get the necessary digital skills to survive and to remain effective. A research 2016 study conducted by Accenture finds that employees are fully aware that digitalization would improve their jobs and job prospects. On the positive side is that these employees are already actively seeking out the skills they would need to suit the demands of a digital business (UNC White Paper -Brecher et al, 2016).

L&D has to seize the opportunity to act as an enabler for the business, to overcome challenges of the digital transformation.  The digital business will entail a new role for L&D that starts with redefining digital learning strategy, which incorporates leadership, learners, learning offer & technology – and a re-engineered L&D operation with a digital mindset and -skills. This article offers insights and views on Digital Learning Readiness (DLR) and provides guidelines how to implement it in your corporate learning environment. Digital Learning Readiness: are your employees, learners and L&D team successfully leveraging digital learning to build tomorrow’s business capabilities?

Benefits & barriers to digital learning readiness

The Embracing Change report (Towards Maturity, 2016) states that a modernized learning strategy, underpinned by digital transformation, is delivering tangible business impact in top learning organizations. The listed benefits are: 12% improvement in productivity; 15% improvement in customer satisfaction; 19% improvement in time-to-competence; and 16% L&D cost reduction.

On the other side of the same DLR ‘coin’, there are numerous obstacles to be removed before achieving major results. Recent research from McKinsey (2015) shows that executives list a number of strategic hurdles to achieving their digital objectives:

In parallel their organizations face practical obstacles like: lack of employee skills to manage own learning; lack of resources, support & time; line manager reluctance (to digital change); unreliable IT infrastructure; and a misfit between performance management and learning.

Furthermore, the McKinsey report illustrates that despite the high stakes for L&D, many learning professionals are still conservative in their digital approach. The conservatives feel more comfortable sticking to the tried and tested methods for learning content, social and collaborative learning and tools supporting learning management and administration. On the other hand pioneering L&D leaders from our network understand that modern day learners across the business need to be supported in their ‘consumer journey’ if they are to deliver top performance. Staff at all levels are learning through experience, social networks and formal learning. L&D professional needs to redefine their strategy, role and necessary skills in supporting learning beyond programs. Following the annual 2015 CIPD L&D survey, L&D professionals are urged to look beyond learner satisfaction and measure initiatives in terms of how they add value to the organization as a whole, and society in general. Technology can play a critical role in helping to establish a learning culture through facilitating knowledge sharing and social learning. Digital thinking is also transforming access to learning and building the flexible, agile approach to staff development that underpins business success (Towards Maturity, 2016).

Digital Learning Readiness scan

Every client and prospect we have met over the last months, states that digitization is impacting their business and L&D. After identifying Digital Learning Readiness (DLR) as a research topic, we reached out to CrossKnowledge clients and interviewed corporate learning experts to find out their key DLR-challenges. We ‘collected’ lessons learned and best practices in order to scope and design a DLR-scan concept in parallel with desk research; among others we gained insights from Nike, Bayer, ING, Gazprom and DSM. We used international workshops, roundtables and conferences to gather expert input on this DLR-scan concept and adapted based on the feedback. The next step was to test the scan in 3 corporate L&D environments and finalize the design. The results of these efforts is a very pragmatic Digital Learning Readiness ‘scan’ with 4 clusters, each containing 5 guidelines that you can review and implement to improve DLR in your organization.

The 4 digital learning readiness clusters are:

How’s your Digital Learning Readiness? Run your DLR-scan: transform and progress your digital learning impact

We assume that you would like to scan and review the digital learning readiness in your organization and as a result align closer to your business and adapt to its speed of change. We recommend that you register for our 12th January 2017 4:00 pm CET CrossKnowledge webinar that will provide in-depth insight into this Digital Learning Readiness scan. Following that webinar you can conduct your own DLR-scan which will identify organizational and L&D areas to transform.

In order to meet tomorrow’s digitization business challenges successful companies must develop the right leadership capabilities, workforce skills, and corporate cultures to support digital transformation. Can L&D keep up with the speed and demands of the business? Digital Learning Readiness is a challenge for most corporate L&D organizations and in not being ready they run the risk of losing credibility, senior leadership support, resources and this potentially could result in extinction. Based on our research we have identified DLR best practices that can shape and boost digital learning readiness and position corporate L&D as a strategic change ‘powerhouse’.