Business Intelligence

Technology Choices Need to Be Strategic
One of the biggest challenges L&D leaders face with technology adoption is how to establish and align a technology strategy with business goals.
By Ashley St. John

hief Learning Officer is uniquely situated to see all the new and interesting things organizations are doing with technology in their learning and development functions each year, thanks in large part to our LearningElite and Learning In Practice awards programs.

Take, for example, KPMG, one of the LearningElite 2019 top five. In 2018, the company launched its Experience Disruptors and Trends Series, technology-enabled simulations that challenge teams of participants to perform in the role of their clients and navigate a shifting business landscape. AT&T, also in the 2019 LearningElite top five, has prioritized the virtualization of all of its content, a tremendous undertaking. They are more than halfway to that goal, and 100 percent of retail training is completely virtual. At the CLO Symposium on Oct. 14 in Chicago, the winners of the 2019 Learning In Practice Technology Award will be announced. The companies range in size from 1,700 to 1.5 million employees and sport a number of ambitious initiatives: One is utilizing gamification to better engage learners across 48,000-plus stores in 145 countries; another embedded a customized, fully mobile-enabled project management and learning tool into its LMS.

In the learning space, organizations large and small are experimenting with technologies and exploring how to best serve their internal and external audiences. However, the aforementioned organizations have been recognized for their programs for a reason: They represent the best of the best in learning and development. What does the general industry snapshot look like for 2019?

According to data from the Chief Learning Officer Business Intelligence Board’s “2019 Learning State of the Industry” report, almost 80 percent of companies are making learning technology at least a medium-level investment priority over the next 12 to 18 months, with 33 percent ranking it as high priority and 16 percent ranking it as essential (Figure 1). L&D strategy and content delivery also ranked high in terms of investment priority. However, when asked what the anticipated greatest L&D challenges were for the next year, 44 percent cited budget (Figure 2).

Investment priorities
Greatest L&D Tech
The Chief Learning Officer Business Intelligence Board is a group of 1,500 professionals in the learning and development industry who have agreed to be surveyed by the Human Capital Media Research and Advisory Group, the research and advisory arm of Chief Learning Officer magazine. This survey was conducted from January to March 2019.

So, where will those learning tech investments be made? In large part, they will be made in e-learning delivery; analytics, workforce performance metrics, evaluation and dashboards; and competency management (Figure 3). And while 34 percent of organizations are currently not developing or purchasing anything for mobile platforms, the 66 percent who do are concentrating largely on courseware, apps, information resources and on-the-job support (Figure 4).

Top 3 Anticipated Areas For L&D Tech Spending
What Organization are developing and purchasing for mobile platforms
It seems that the most pressing challenge L&D leaders face is how to establish and align a technology strategy with business goals, as well as align technology operations, practices and systems across different business units (Figure 2). After all, as authors Matthew Murray and Nicolai Chen Nielsen discuss in their article “A Strategic Approach to Digital Learning” on page 54, it’s critical to have a clear digital learning production strategy. Without a road map, whatever the investment is, it will be difficult to keep learners satisfied and measure outcomes.
Figures’ sources: Chief Learning Officer Business Intelligence Board’s “2019 Learning State of the Industry,” N=537. All percentages rounded.

Ashley St. John is Chief Learning Officer’s managing editor.