The surprising impact of L&D on digital transformation

By Fiona Quigley | June 04, 2018 | 0



Earlier this year, Gartner predicted that worldwide IT spending will rise to $3.7 trillion in 2018 - which is the highest increase in more than a decade. When you think about digital transformation, though, which areas of your business come to mind?

For most people, digital transformation is about technology – using it to support the development of new products and services. This is partly right, but it is not the full story.


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Digital transformation is more than one story

Deloittes 2018 Global Human Capital Trends places a big emphasis on the development of new skills and abilities to support the new responsibilities of business – the ‘Rise of the Social Enterprise’. Organisations are now considered global citizens and need to make an impact at many different levels of society – including the economic, the environmental and the social (not least, the wellbeing of their workforce).

Leaders of organisations are so influential now, with new technology and a global economy at their fingertips, that they are being called to fill the vacuum of political leadership. That is a lot of responsibility!

Most analysts agree that there is no point in building a business around new technology if we don’t put equal emphasis on developing human skills to exploit the new opportunities. After all, technology can’t do everything – yet!

From learning and development to lifelong learning 

The responsibility for this shift in learning falls to HR and learning and development teams. But what exactly is this shift and how can we support L&D to do it well?

Careers in the 21st century are changing rapidly. We are way beyond a job for life; we are even way beyond the traditional notion of career. Careers are not as orderly as they once were: career breaks, career pivots, and jumping around industries are now commonplace. Careers are being viewed as individual development experiences, with each experience offering the chance to acquire new skills and new perspectives. 

This is a challenge for L&D to both solve and make the most of. Organisations are battling it out to acquire the best talent – and if careers are lasting longer, then that opens all sorts of opportunities for finding and supporting different types of talent.

The big surprise - L&D has a chance to re-invent learning

In line with business transformation, many organisations are changing how they support their staff in day-to-day learning and across their careers within the organisation. Most are leveraging new technologies and new ways of thinking about learning, wherever it is practical to do so.

For example, Shell and BMO are making use of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR).  BMO uses an augmented reality layer on top of their physical workplace, providing on-demand access to learning experiences through gamification in order to encourage engagement and exploration. 

While not all organsiations will have the need or budget for AR and VR solutions, most need a shift that puts learning firmly back into employee’s hands. Career meanders aside, employees want to do it for themselves!  And the good news is that the companies which foster a growth mind-set, use stretch assignments, and openly discuss mistakes to support learning are three times more profitable and have up to four times better retention than companies which don’t.

Media-rich repositories which promote self-directed learning are becoming the new type of digital learning solution that companies are opting for. Employees want easily searchable content, to consume it quickly – and in a format they choose, regardless of location or device. This is the type of experience they have been used to on their Smart phones outside the workplace, and they now expect the same or similar in the workplace.

Open the LMS - expand organisational learning 

L&D need to play a major role in helping the organisation to identify those new skills and abilities required to support the digital transformation. But first we need to understand how learning has completely transformed within our organisations. Learning has moved from being reactive to being enabling – less about closing a skill gap or solving a performance problem than becoming a strategic enabler for the business. Learning in all its guises needs to be considered by the L&D team, as well as by the wider business. Most organisations refer to this type of model to describe their typical organisational learning needs.

Our view of the future of L&D can be seen in this diagram. L&D now have the potential to make the impact they always wanted to. Learning in an organisation is more than one thing - it is the most important thing you'll get right as an organisation.

The bottom line - your L&D teams need to build services that the
rest of the business can consume with ease and impact. 

 The new learning and development for organisations

Business leaders need to unite in digital transformation

There is a massive culture change going on.
A three-wheeled story: technology and tools, products and services, but you also need the culture, the people change. 

Global HR, Orange Business Services

Digital transformation is more than a single story for an organisation. It is about products and services, customer touch points, data-driven decisions, employee engagement and, above all, it is about better organisational learning.

It will take more than just the L&D team to make this shift, but L&D have a big role to play in the success of any digital transformation. Just ask the head of HR for Orange. 





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Posted in Business leader, Learning and development

Fiona Quigley

About Fiona Quigley

Fiona is a blogger and researcher in digital learning and health communication. She is an innovative thinker with a passion for helping people and organisations to grow and develop. For 15 years, she delivered training and digital learning solutions for a wide variety of public sector and corporate organisations. She specialises in media production, storytelling and interactive online learning techniques.