Product innovator Tim Drewitt shares insight into why mid-sized businesses should be capitalising on the benefits of using learning technologies.

New research from Towards Maturity, sponsored by Kallidus, reveals that medium-sized businesses only invest 14% of their L&D budgets in learning technologies, compared to top performing companies who set aside 25%. Only 29% provide on-demand learning options, with even fewer (20%) providing online or mobile learning solutions; and just 22% offering e-enabled training and 24% developing blended learning programmes.

Organisations of this size should be the envy of their much larger competitors. Being so much closer to the end-user and the all-important line managers means that even the smallest of L&D teams has the potential to truly engage at the required level throughout the organisation and to partner with the business to evolve their use of all forms of learning.

But they cite these issues as barriers to making any headway here:

  • Lacking the required skills within L&D
  • Digital learning not being seen as a management priority
  • The fact that some off-the-shelf content isn’t relevant for their business
  • Feeling unable to demonstrate the impact of learning on the bottom line
  • Difficulties in embracing new technologies
  • Reluctance by line managers to encourage new ways of learning

So with employees increasingly wanting on-demand learning solutions, what steps can medium-sized businesses take?

  1. Recruitment: Whenever you can, recruit new L&D team members with some experience in using learning technologies, including rapid content development.
  2. Curation: Also look for new L&D team members with experience in curating learning from existing internal and external sources of content as an alternative to always creating new training, or those who have worked closely with internal subject matter experts to co-create learning.
  3. Coaching: Perhaps consider recruiting new L&D team members from within the business and offer them some light-touch coaching in L&D skills to allow them to create learning solutions that they know will work for their people.
  4. Innovation: Challenge your existing external training suppliers to embrace new learning methodologies, so that you don’t just continue to get ‘more of the same’.
  5. Blended learning: Drive success with a blended approach, ensuring your L&D programmes support both content delivery and real-time ‘on-the-job’ learning.
  6. Networks: Work with subject matter experts in the business to develop internal learning networks, possibly using free or low-cost social media platforms to support them.
  7. Testing: When choosing your own rapid content development authoring tools, take your time and make the most of software trials. How easy is it for you to create your own content? Ask each vendor to create an example module for you, so you can see the potential. Include a period of testing out the content on real learners too.
  8. In-house skills: Partner with learning technologies content providers who use your choice of rapid content development tool, so that you can maintain the content afterwards and develop the skills to create similar courses going forward.
  9. User insight: Work closely with your learners and their managers to understand learning preferences and previous experiences of digital learning. Use these valuable insights to shape how you design your future training.
  10. Analysis: Engage with your business leaders to determine the most appropriate and pragmatic ways to measure the impact of the learning on offer.

This is a great time for mid-sized businesses to invest in new learning technologies and the supporting systems. Larger organisations have a much higher cost-of-entry point and more complex deployments. Starting now, even on a smaller scale, will pay dividends in the long-run.

Download the full report at www.kallidus.com/research

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