Eidos Consulting recently enjoyed a visit to the 2020 Learning Technologies Expo. This is not the first time that we have attended, and so it is interesting to see the trends in technology as they change from year to year. Whether this be the huge number of learning management system vendors, or the emergence of VR as a staple learning method, what is clear is that now, more than ever, data is leading the way in our approach to learning and development.
This should be of no surprise to most; we are now more connected than ever and the sheer volume of data available drives us to a software-based solution to improve personal and business performance. The question is though, are we ready for software to be leading the charge in learning and development? Let us have a look at the arguments for and against…
Yes we are….
In the modern age, data is king. We have much greater insight into personal performance than previously through an ever-increasing number of metrics, often coming from hardware and software that supports the growing demand for quality and efficiency. Organisations are onboarding new tools and processes that have the means to provide real insight into how well an individual is performing. This enables the business to create ever smarter development objectives for their staff, and to ensure these are effective, they are formalising their performance reviews through software platforms.
For a number of years, the learning software market has been driven towards interoperability, requiring software from different vendors to be able to talk to each other through API (Application Program Interface) statements. This provides HR/L&D teams with the opportunity to better manage learning activities and semi-automates some of the activities around this that may have previously been quite time consuming. Indeed, this is where the major benefits of software use can be realised; saving time and effort associated with workforce development. Employers can take comfort in the learning software market through the sheer volume of service providers, demonstrating that most should be able to deliver a good quality of service, especially when looking to tie yourself to a vendor with multi-year contracts.
The days of clunky spreadsheets and (dare we say) focusing on the individuals/departments that ‘shout the loudest’ are over, now that software can provide us with a measured, consistent and efficient approach to developing our staff.
No we are not….
First and foremost, learning & development is about people. It is about developing individuals that collectively add up to a skilled, capable workforce that enables a business to meet their objectives. With that being the case, the human element of L&D cannot be overlooked.
A good L&D professional will really understand the company’s strategy & goals, the individuals that make up the workforce and how they best interact with development activities. This is not something that can be done through software, and so having human interaction really supports buy in to personal development at all levels, from the company board right through to the workforce.
Additionally, and despite the number of software providers out there, it is rare that you are going to find an ‘off-the-shelf’ solution that entirely fits all of the company’s L&D needs. This means that either there will be a level of customisation required to get the system working in the way you wish, or that you may have to look at using multiple systems at the same time. This all accounts for what can be the major blocker to using software for L&D; cost. This is especially true if you are a smaller business or if you have not used L&D software previously, as there is also a big cost to embedding the system in your business and management processes.
It is clear to see the benefit that learning management software brings to structuring the development of your workforce. This will only become more apparent as time goes on, with big data driving more measured approaches to personnel development. However, we believe there will always be a key part for people to play. The human element of workforce cannot be under-estimated and, if done correctly, will continue to ensure your people are invested in their own development as your business and systems grow.