The Future of Corporate Learning and Development

Question 4: What’s Holding Back Learning Technology Today?

You have the right to ask more from your technology providers. However, learning professionals also need to look in the mirror. Years of taking shortcuts or accepting the status quo haven’t left you in a better position to succeed. Technology is what you make of it, and even some of the more traditional players are making changes to modernize their systems. But that only works if you work with them as well, thoroughly evaluating and investing the time to make the right decisions for your organization.

What’s holding you back? According to survey respondents, learning professionals face five very specific top-of-mind issues:

44% Lack of budget is holding back progress


While this is a common refrain across many of the functional areas we’ve studied, many in the learning profession believe that when budget cuts get announced, learning is the first to go. When budgets go back up, learning is the last to get its share. That means the organization’s learning technology may be underpowered or out of date.

40% Measuring value and ROI isn’t easy


Quantifying the value of training has long been a challenge for the profession. However, in a world where words such as “big data” and “analytics” are thrown around freely, the expectation for many learning professionals (and many of the people they report to) is that showing ROI isn’t only possible to achieve, it’s essential to show.

37% Managing content is a chore


While content and document-management systems are often an afterthought during the purchasing process, the problem rears its head when the time comes to deploy and update third-party content and curate user-generated content. For many learning professionals, the role of curator is becoming more important than that of curriculum builder.

31% Integration isn’t happening


While many organizations are partially integrated — perhaps through a talent management system or an HRIS system of record — true integration is elusive. As a result, many learning professionals are holding their technology partners more accountable and setting integration as the key metric for customer success.

29% Implementation


There’s an old saying in software circles: Buy the dream and live the nightmare. It’s not uncommon for promises to be made in the sales process that companies have no intention or no idea how to fulfill. It’s imperative to check references and do thorough due diligence. Can the technology do exactly what you need it to do? Asking the right questions upfront (which can mean hiring an experienced consultant) can save you time, budget, and regret later.

27% User adoption is a struggle


Learning touches everyone in the organization. While many employees may never touch their HRIS self-service module, almost every employee is going to touch a learning system. As a result, learning leaders are being more thorough, both about planning a learning system rollout and implementing best practices to encourage robust user adoption. If you don’t want to end up with expensive shelfware, find out how your technology vendor can guarantee your ultimate success.

The Starr Conspiracy’s take:

The problems on this hit list are largely not new, and you’re not likely to solve them on your own. However, if you focus your requirements for a learning technology purchase on these five criteria, you will be able to ask vendors the right questions and shorten the odds of making the right choice. One tip for enterprise buyers: Hire a consultant to manage the selection process.

Brandon Hall Group’s take:

In order for your learning technology to be the knight in shining armor for your organization, you must take a step back and ask yourself this question: Have we developed a sound learning strategy? Remember, learning technology is in existence for one reason only — to support your learning strategy. If you don’t have a well-thought-out learning strategy, what are you using as criteria to choose your learning technology? Learning technology is not the panacea for a suboptimal learning strategy. Learning technology only magnifies the gaps in your learning strategy. The message sent to your organization is that you made a bad choice in technology when really the problem was you didn’t do your homework and build the right learning strategy. Want to pick the right learning technology and be a hero? Put the time into creating a super-charged learning strategy; then ask yourself what type of technology you need to support it.