2019 Benchmark Studies Show Companies With Learning in Their DNA Deliver Growth

New key benchmark studies from globally renowned Towards Maturity Index’s, The Transformation Journey, and Fosway Group/360 Learning’s Digital Learning Realities 2019 respectively reveal that companies with learning in their DNA lead the growth pack

It doesn’t take a genius in macro trends to work out that one of the greatest impacts on business today is technological change and the sheer pace of it.

Never before have we heard the words “disruption” and “transformation” used so interchangeably. Whether that be Business Transformation or Digital Disruption, it’s change, it’s here, and unless your business is run by AI and drones, optimising your workforce for the impact as well as the opportunities – is likely at the top of your agenda.

And that’s not all. For the first time, four generations are working together – Boomers, Gen X, Y (or Millenials – the biggest cohort at work) and Z. And while it can be amusing to hear a Boomer refer to ‘The Interwebs’ or observe a Gen Y messaging a colleague sitting 20 centimetres away – these technological and cultural divides make for some interesting challenges in learning and development.

For at least the last two generations, Y and Z – they’ll expect to stay in their current role just two years before moving on. And that’s only if you deliver on their expectations for the latest technology, career development and growth.

So, for companies to compete and grow, building a continuous learning culture, modernising, systemising and embedding learning and development in the very fabric of your business, and in the flow of work is of critical importance.

Expect to be working very hard to attract, train and retain in future. And even when you do, you may find that the cycle will continue and, in fact, accelerate.

Not Business As Usual

The 2019 results from two key International Studies are in, and the findings have an impact across the entire C-Suite.

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The research findings from globally renowned Towards Maturity Index’s, The Transformation Journey, and Fosway Group/360 Learning’s Digital Learning Realities 2019 respectively – reveal two key facts:

  • Firstly, in the top 10% of organisations, leaders, individuals and L&D professionals work together to create a culture of learning.
  • Secondly, they leverage and embed learning innovation within their organisations (read: Tech).

However, there are some catches.

Technology Fragmentation Holding Businesses Back

Based on insights from 7,500 learning professionals and 50,000+ workers globally, the Towards Maturity Index (TMI) report, makes the connection between learning and profitability, and this year’s report is a ‘wake-up call’ not just for learning and development leaders, but for all business leaders, executives and managers as it provides compelling evidence that learning leaders who are working directly with leadership at the very top of the organisation, deliver tangible business results.

While the study reveals many of the same challenges since the report’s inception 15 years ago, alarm bells should go off with a key finding that 29% of L&D practitioners report feeling overwhelmed by technology and under-equipped. And therein lies a key challenge that is no doubt holding organisations back from the very growth and transformation they are pursuing. And it has much broader implications for business.

Investment in digital learning is not slowing down, and 85% of organisations report a fragmented learning ecosystem (with, in many cases, up to 19 different learning technologies in use), so more than ever it’s imperative to understand your own organisation’s drivers and business goals, and relate these directly to delivering an effective and impactful learner experience.

Fosway Group’s study also reported that the range of emerging technologies and solutions is immense and bewildering to navigate. So, while these ever-expanding options make digital learning more exciting, they are also making things more complicated and riskier than ever.

With so many companies still progressing their digital transformation of learning, they need to ‘cut through the hype’ in order to make the right choices, while also creating the right digital learning ecosystem.

Breaking the Impasse

On the upside, TMI’s wake-up call is supported by encouraging evidence-based data showing that learning technologies are having an impact across a number of business indicators, delivering:

  •      14% increase in productivity
  •      21% increase in customer satisfaction
  •      11% increase in revenue
  •      36% decrease in costs

If that doesn’t prove that smart decisions around learning technology make a real difference to business, I don’t know what does.

However, the companies that experience this growth, didn’t necessarily use the latest or trendiest technology.

“What’s trending in people’s conversation is not necessarily what’s trending in their usage of technology in the workplace,” says Laura Overton, Founder of Towards Maturity.

“What we’re finding is that the core tools that were in place 15 years ago are still the core tools that people are using now.” She goes on to point out that “one of the things that high performing learning cultures are doing is experimenting. They’re more likely to say, ‘let’s try something, but let’s apply it to the business problem to see whether it works’.”

Collaboration for Learning in The Flow of Work

What’s most evident today, according to Sarah Lindsell, Global Chief Learning Strategist at PwC, is the wider business has more impact on learning than learning professionals themselves. And this comes down to learning technologies. “We are now seeing interventions delivered within the flow of work that are not even recognised as learning,” she observes.

The TMI Report points to some very useful stats on how to engage learners, in which collaboration and manager support are key. However, leaders must ensure this happens, as  the fact is, 93% of learning professionals want to engage learners, yet only 25% involve them in the design process.

Building Digital Success

Perhaps surprisingly, TMI reports that over 50% of formal learning in organisations is still delivered face-to-face despite the growth in digital, and TMI’s findings that an average of 90%+ of staff in most enterprises have access to digital learning.

So, perhaps business leaders need to shake up of their Learning & Development teams to move forward faster with Learning Technology transformation to ensure they maximise their business success.

L&D is investing 18% of their budget in technology. But which technologies are they using?

For many, investment in learning technologies is focussed around content creation and delivery: Live online learning, elearning courses and the Learning Management System.

According to Fosway, Digital Learning Content is the top priority – with blended learning, video and user-generated content at the top of the list.

This is followed by Learning Platforms (some now referred to as Learning Experience Platforms), where analytics, social/collaborative, virtual classrooms and authoring systems are the top growth areas.

Digital Danger Zone

As things shift towards digital learning, there can be an over-reliance on tools to deliver results. Across the industry nearly twice as many tools are being used compared to 2011.

This sits in stark contrast to the insight that in the history of the TMI study, there is no direct correlation between tools used and achieving goals of efficiency, process, performance, agility or culture.

The obvious answer is, that while the tools used alone don’t correlate to business impact, the tactics used to implement them most certainly do.

In the words of Dominic Price, Head of R&D and Work Futurist from Atlassian, who spoke at last year’s Sydney Tech Fest, “a fool with a tool is still just a fool”.

Building a Learning Culture

Most executives surveyed by Fosway indicated that their organisation’s digital journey is ‘in progress’ and that once again, context and more importantly, content is king. The tools must support the tactics.

However, given that fully 50% of respondents felt that their current learning platforms are not fit for the modern workforce, new solutions are required. And the changing investment in digital learning in 2019 is on the increase.

David Wilson, CEO of Fosway Group summarised it this way: “Fundamentally, becoming digital is a catalyst to force L&D to become more strategic in its approach to value add, as well as ensuring it is more aligned with day to day business priorities and realities.” He continued, “It is the combination of the right systems in conjunction with this reimagined role for L&D going forwards that make for an exciting, energising and embedded role at the centre of any organisation in the digital age.”

If Fosway Group’s research shows that L&D needs to upskill in order to tackle digital transformation and impact learner engagement, Towards Maturity takes it a step further and shows that organisations which progress towards a high-performing learning culture are more likely to report increased impact to their business in terms of speed of rollout, improved cost reduction as well as improvement in productivity and revenue.

And that’s an outcome that the C-Suite can bank on.

Contact the team at ITC Learning if you would like a copy of the Towards Maturity Research – Towards Maturity Index’s, The Transformation Journey.

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