By Debra Lilley, Associate Director, Accenture
Several years ago, I had the pleasure of working with a small group of young university graduates I hired to help build an analytics practice. One graduate in particular wanted to get involved in a data warehouse project and to help get him up to speed, I offered to “find a course”. By this, I meant sending him off to sit for hours in a room filled with desks and whiteboards. After all, that’s how I learned things when I was in my twenties.
He came back two days later announcing he’d already found and taken an online course and now had all the knowledge he needed to start the project. That wasn’t surprising: He soaked up new information like a sponge (I could barely keep up!) and just like his generational peers, he “self-learned” everything he needed to know.
Welcome to the future of learning. Today, the classroom model, while not extinct, is fading fast in the business world. You no longer expect to sit through a course that takes forever to organize and always seems to be scheduled at the wrong time and place. It’s all been made possible by moving the classroom and the associated learning resources to the cloud.
Yet, here’s the hitch: It’s not enough to provide online access to videos and other educational materials. As a team leader, I want to know what my people are actually learning online and to track their progress so I can see the skills they’re building towards being able to contribute to the success of our projects and company.
That’s what the latest generation of learning management platforms delivers. I’ve seen how this delivers increased visibility and efficiency at my own workplace at Accenture.
With the Oracle solution, we’ve transformed numerous customer onboarding processes and can now track the progress of new hire compliance training through online courses, which are linked to individual employee records in the HR system. This is a huge improvement over using time-intensive spreadsheets and other offline tools.
Additionally, the learning experience is mobile-friendly, enabling employees to access their learning via their laptop, smartphone, or tablet. Such capabilities remove the need to tailor content for different devices, so curriculum can be created once and used everywhere, delivering a consistent experience across every device. This can be a massive time saver.
Since courses no longer need to be scheduled around live, in-person classes, employees can learn at their own speed and only when the need arises. One Oracle user recently shared that his manager suggested during a performance appraisal that he should improve his negotiating skills. He went to Oracle Learning Cloud and quickly found and completed a course about negotiations within hours of his chat with his manager.
You can also customize the coursework to match an employee’s role in the organization. After all, engineers and accountants need to know different things, as do vice presidents and junior managers. To make it easier for people to complete courses on top of all their other job duties, you can break subjects down into small, easily digestible parts in an approach known as “micro learning.”
What’s more, the learning platform can automatically deliver recommended coursework to selected employees, reducing their search time. Learning administrators also spend less time distributing content. This ensures that people get the relevant insights they need to be successful and grow.
Perhaps the most valuable part of these cloud-based solutions is the feedback you get from learners, which is automatically collected and analyzed. This helps you discover what to revise in your training curriculum over time to better address everybody’s on-the-job needs.
For many organizations accustomed to acquiring knowledge the old way, cloud learning can be a big culture shift. Accenture suggests following the “70/20/10 rule” for learner experience, which emphasizes on-the-go learning, followed by social and formal learning.
Moving learning to the cloud can take some work. We’ve found that while most organizations already have most of the content they need on-hand, much of it is scattered all over the place, from being on someone’s desktop to an intranet site to a file cabinet.
A good first step is to gather together all of that content and put it on the central learning platform that is easily visible, accessible, and maintainable. Another useful exercise is to divide the content between what people should know and what’s mandatory to know.
Once you become familiar with the cloud learning platform, you can begin to see all kinds of opportunities for making a difference. Let’s say you’re launching a project for a new customer. Why not make a series of videos or presentations to help bring team members up to speed and understand the customer’s business objectives? Now, as your people roll onto the project, they’re fully onboarded and ready to go. Even better, the customer will clearly appreciate the difference when the teams come onsite.
Remember, learning programs are not about training for the sake of training. It’s also about connecting your learning programs to your business so you can drive better outcomes, such as an improved customer experience or greater business innovation and agility.