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Learning Transformation: Is The View Worth the Climb?

Last week I attended NIIT’s annual international customer conference, Confluence 2015, which was themed ‘Learning Transformation: The View Is Worth The Climb’. Alongside sessions on best practice and how NIIT are supporting transformation in learning, ~10 client companies described their transformation journey. Here are the key take-aways from the event, with NelsonHall’s perspective.

Organizations need to be able to answer how much they are spending on learning and what value is derived. Nearly all executives (96%) want to see the business impact of learning, yet only 8% know what it is. In terms of ROI, 74% of executives want to see the data, but only 4% receive it. In order for the learning organization to get more investment from the business,  the ability to demonstrate value is essential. Transformation ‘must dos’ include:

  • Run at the speed of the business
  • Be lean and agile
  • Laser focus on the business to drive business value
  • Provide data-driven analytics to prove business value.

To achieve this, businesses need to:

  • Install relationship managers to understand and link to business needs
  • Optimize training delivered by outside providers
  • Dramatically reduce fixed costs
  • Measure what matters
  • Utilize outsourcing as a strategic lever to gain access to capability and experience the organization doesn’t have or can’t afford to build, move to variable costs, reduce unit costs, and gain scalability.

Burning issues facing leaders include leadership development misalignment (resulting in poor talent pipelines and weak succession plans), poor learning design, and social media expansion. Learning is a social process, hence social learning is a key part of the transformation. Social learning can provide benefits by connecting people to generate and spread ideas, teach and learn, capture and share knowledge, and solve complex problems.

Attributes identified that successful learning organizations need to demonstrate include:

  • 24/7 accessibility, including via a single portal, reducing time to autonomy
  • Ownership of learning at all levels: employees need to take ownership of their own learner development and know where to go to get the information they need
  • Consolidation of technologies, with companies moving from dozens to one single Learning Management System (LMS) and consolidation of learning centers to reduce costs, increase efficiency and improve effectiveness
  • Ability to execute innovations faster. One energy client described how an ‘innovation dream team’, made up of representatives from each of the businesses, collaborate to drive process and technology innovation
  • Ensuring scalability and flexibility, including faster learning with e-learning modules of no more than 3 or 4 minutes in length
  • Portfolio optimization: transforming L&D from a demand-driven expense center to a value driven performance resource.

Much of this is supported by NelsonHall’s Learning BPO research, which identifies the top drivers for companies outsourcing the learning function as:

  • Cost effectiveness and efficiency, and the flexibility of a variable cost structure
  • Talent development to improve workforce capability, including leadership development
  • Improved business results, including increased productivity, faster speed to market and increased revenue and ROI
  • Increased levels of innovation, including technology, new ideas and process improvements
  • Consolidation and centralization of multiple learning organizations and standardization of processes and technology, leading to consistency and improved efficiency
  • Development of a social and more collaborative learning strategy.

Additional drivers include enablement of clients to focus on more strategic objectives. Due to ongoing pressure on HR to run lean, including reducing fixed resources, clients are looking to reduce their administrative burden and focus on their strategic objectives, including talent management.

All of which points to a serious need for companies to make the learning transformation. The journey won’t always be easy, with inhibitors to transformation including resistance to change and difficulties with learning being fragmented across the business, but for those organizations willing to make the climb, the view should be worth it.

NelsonHall is currently conducting its sixth global Learning BPO market analysis to ascertain the current and changing shape of the learning outsourcing market.

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