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December 19, 2017

The age of Learning on-demand

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“I haven’t seen this much disruption in corporate learning since I started as an analyst back in the early 2000s. The L&D profession and function has fallen behind, and it’s time for L&D to focus on digital transformation, learning experience design, and open peer to peer learning like never before. The new digital world of work is here.” – Josh Bersin

What a year 2017 has been. Talk about disruption, here at The Skillsoft Group we’ve undergone a complete metamorphosis.

Corporate learning, no the very experience of being an employee, is being radically reshaped and it’s an exciting time for everyone, but particularly for those of us involved in HR.

I’ve seen us design and create such new ways to learn and new ways to manage a workforce that is now learning is always on, always available and learners can engage in ways unimaginable in the past.

Perspectives, our annual conference, is an amazing few days when customers get the opportunity to talk to us, to each other, to industry leading CLOs and other prominent thought leaders; a time to experience hands-on training; a time to party with your peers and a time to be recognized for your innovation and hard work. But this year I’m even more excited about it. This year we get to really show everyone how we have focused on producing the solutions, the content and the products that will meet the demands of the digital workplace; we get to show Learning on-demand.

Vegas has been our home for Perspectives for a couple of years now, and we can’t think of a better place to return to for 2018.

If in the past it was something special, this year it is something extraordinary. Everything we’ve had before we now have multiplied.

2018 will be our biggest, our best yet.

As the Director of Events, this does mean a few more sleepless nights for me, but I know in the end it will all be worth it.

We’ve already opened early registration, and if you think your organization should be recognized for their innovative ideas, powerful programs or there are some inspiring leaders who are helping to transform the corporate learning and talent management landscape, please submit to be considered for one of our awards.

Find out more information and to take advantage of the early bird registration rate.

Caryn Baker is the Director of Events for Skillsoft. 

November 1, 2017

What were people talking about at Unleash?


HR Tech World in Amsterdam, rebranded now as Unleash, wrapped last week. It was hectic and tiring at times, but it was one of the more productive events I’ve been to in a while.

Over the course of the two days, lots of themes and trends were discussed, some new and some we’ve been hearing about for quite some time now.

But I think there were five key topics that warrant our attention.

#1 The rise of the gig economy

Dr. Daniel Thorniley’s keynote drew attention to what some see as the end of the traditional workforce. Currently, approximately 160 million westerners work in the gig economy while in the US alone around 55 million people work as freelancers. Think about what that means for, well, everyone. For HR, for the people themselves who must now operate under different criteria than in the past, and how this changes the landscape for training and development purposes.

#2 AI in the factory

Every conference today addresses this issue, and Unleash was no different. During a panel discussion around analytics and what HR folks are doing with the data that is being accumulated, David Wilson of The Fosway Group asked us all to consider how AI is impacting industries like manufacturing where the work environment is rather atypical.

#3 Will robots mean job losses?

Henrik Schärfe, like so many others, is raising our collective awareness that soon many jobs will no longer be filled by humans. But rather than bemoaning this fact, he recommends we see it as an opportunity to upskill; to concentrate our training efforts on those jobs/skills that require creativity and judgment – tasks robots are less suited to, and then happily leave the more mundane, time-consuming jobs to them.

#4 Will the 4th Industrial Revolution bring about a dramatic change in HR?

Josh Bersin spoke at length on this. And he is in perhaps the best position to given that Bersin by Deloitte is about to publish their HR Technology Disruption for 2018 report. While he didn’t give everything away, suffice to say if you are an HR professional, and you are not preparing for how things are changing, then you are preparing to fail.

#5 HCM tools can help foster diversity and inclusion

Gartner’s Research Director John Kostoulas addressed this issue in his presentation, and I hope, given all the recent bad press surrounding this issue, people took note and returned to their organisations with some solid and actionable insights. I like that he stressed that not only must diversity and inclusion be recognized as one, but importantly that for such efforts to succeed, they must be CEO-led. Real, significant and lasting change is only seen when the decision-making is occurring at the top.

For us it was a real pleasure to see Sarah Otley, ‎Vice President and Next Generation Learning Lab Director at Capgemini University, a SumTotal client, present a session on how once they established the Capgemini University, they were able to reach over 190,000 geographically dispersed learners with ease and convenience, which consequently enabled them to align and accelerate their organisation’s learning goals.

And of course, it was great to see Morne Swart, VP Global Product Strategy at SumTotal, demonstrate our updates to the Talent Expansion Suite®.  Some great questions were asked, and I feel people were impressed with our latest enhancements.

Now it’s time to review all that we learned and prepare for next year!

May 19, 2017

2017 APAC Perspectives


When we were deciding the theme for this year’s conference we talked to both our customers and our team to try and get a sense of what’s ‘hot’ right now – what are the issues and the topics the industry is buzzing about.

Turns out we are all looking to the future and there is a sense of curiosity and anxiety around it, what it will bring, what organizational learning will look like and what the worker of the future will expect from their employer.

This led us to ‘Step into the Future of Learning and Talent’ as our theme and it is one we think is particularly relevant given how consumer-led content, technology, gamification, virtual reality and Gen Z are dramatically changing the way we approach learning and talent today.

So, what can you expect at APAC Perspectives on June 1?

We will be hearing from several our customers including the National Disability Services (NDS), Australia’s peak body for non-government disability service organisations, who represent more than 1100 non-government service providers who will discuss how they are using our platform to enable them to offer training capabilities to all their members.

I am looking forward to hearing what Michael McQueen, named in 2015 Australia’s Keynote Speaker of the Year, has to say about emerging trends shaping society and culture and how it impacts business decisions.

And finally, there will, as usual, be plenty of opportunities for you to network with your peers and learning professionals from the region. Our team of learning experts will also be  on hand to demo our new technology, show off our new content and offer their expertise to help you answer your most pressing questions.

Register, here.

May 15, 2017

Join Us at the 2017 India Perspectives


Stepping into the Future of Learning and Talent is the theme of our 2017 Perspectives conference this year.

What does that mean and why did we choose it?

Arguably, it could mean many things. But for us, as the leading provider of eLearning, we feel it is our duty to ensure our customers are prepared. Now while we can’t prepare you for absolutely everything, we can prepare you for the future workplace, the future worker, the future learner.

Let me assure you that the future looks different. Change is happening on every front: from consumer-led content and personalised technology, to gamification, virtual reality, and the arrival of Gen Z.

It is a future that will present people working in L&D and talent management with challenges, but challenges that can be easily met – if you’re prepared.

To ensure you are prepared, we’ve put together an agenda that encompasses all these areas and is filled with expert thought and insight into not only what to expect, but how to meet these expectations.

For starters, our Executive Chairman, Bill Donoghue, will give an overview of the changes we have made to our content, systems, and platforms over the past 12 months and how we plan to continue this growth in the future.

He will be followed by Apratim Purakayastha (AP), our CTO, who will discuss in greater detail our technology. Potoula Chresomales, SVP Product, will unveil Percipio, our new and exciting learning experience, while Bill Docherty, SVP Product, will talk everyone through the new SumTotal Future Roadmap.

Then, we will have a panel discussion moderated by Melissa Ries, VP & GM, APAC on Is Your Talent Future Ready and include Damodar Padhi, VP & Global Head – L&D, TCS, and Prithvi Shergill, ex-CHRO, HCL.

Lastly, from Skillsoft I’ll give you quick overview on all the fabulous new content we have completed and what else will soon be making its way to your systems.

Next, we’ll turn the day over to three of our customers – Tata Communications, Landmark Group, and Sun Pharma to show case their success stories.

Ester Martinez, Editor-in-Chief of People Matters will then host a lively and energetic debate on looking at the organizational learning with two lenses – HR and Business. This will be followed by the Keynote Address by Ashish Vidyarthi, National Award Winning Actor, Speaker, and Founder of AVID MINER.

To end, we will announce the winners of our 2017 India Innovation Awards.

We look forward to see you at 2017 India Perspectives on Thursday, May 18 at The Oberoi Mumbai.

Join us. Register here!

May 1, 2017

Step into the Future of Learning and Talent at EMEA Perspectives


“Planning is bringing the future into the present so you can do something about it now.”
- Alan Lakein

I am a huge fan of planning, and yes, I admit it might be some sort of control issue thing, but I will say this – it has served me very well in my career. You need to keep thinking and looking to the future if you want to thrive in business, and personally actually. Call it strategy or long term vision, it means the same. It means you are prepared, and that means success.

That we have chosen to focus on planning for the future of talent and learning for this year’s EMEA Perspectives makes me very happy. I want to see organisations thinking about the next “big thing” or the next generation of technology, especially when it comes to artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual reality (VR), and how it continues to revolutionize the workplace.

After all, no one wants to be blind-sided, or be left behind. Gen Z has just entered the workforce and technology is evolving faster than ever. We, as people, are changing too. We have different expectations around our career goals, our work-life balance, but at the same time, we are demanding more of our learning opportunities.

With our theme and focus on the Future of Talent and Learning this year, as well as many speakers talking on this topic, you will get to experience our brand new state of the market learning platform – Percipio – and see our new Platinum Skillsoft Courses. We will also showcase the latest release of our fully integrated SumTotal Talent, Learn, and Workforce Management suite 17.1 and our exciting 2017 roadmap for SumTotal featuring market leading social and mobile functionality.

As well as hearing from us, you’ll hear from thought leaders and customers:

  • David Wilson of Fosway Group will unveil the results of an extensive research project on the talent and learning landscape across EMEA. The insights and data this study will tell us what workplace learning looks like today, fundamental information needed when planning how it will look tomorrow.
  • The Future of Work with Felix Mitchell from Instant Impact, the awarding-winning graduate recruitment agency, who will hold a panel discussion on Millennials in the workplace.
  • Laura Overton, Founder and Managing Director of Towards Maturity, will reveal how best-in-class organisations are delivering improved performance through learning innovation.

I look forward to seeing you in London on May 16th.

Check out of the agenda and you can register, here.

February 7, 2017

San Jose and Sacramento HR pros – let’s have lunch and talk talent!

Do you live or work near San Jose or Sacramento, California? Are you in HR, learning, or talent management? Well then let’s do lunch.


It is our business to provide you with the tools you need to do your job. We know in order to stay ahead of the curve, we must constantly look forward. So, when we hear a PWC survey reveal that 93% of companies are changing their strategies for retaining talent, we want to share this with our customers. We make it our mission to provide real actionable tools and insights so they can stay ahead of the curve too.


We know too that everyone is working hard and finding the time to keep current is difficult. Which is why we decided to bring the information to you.  We are hosting a series of lunch events where you can Join Skillsoft and SumTotal, our customers, and other industry professionals for a bite and a discussion on all the top trends, best practices, and convergence of learning and talent.


  • Why talent and learning are converging, and how this affects your employees
  • How to engage and empower employees across all generations
  • What a learning and talent maturity model measures and where your organization fits
  • The latest global trends and best practices for engaging, empowering, motivating and retaining a diverse and multigenerational workforce as presented by Brent Colescott, Director, Business Strategy & Transformation, SumTotal, and former practitioner with more than 20 years of learning and talent experience.

For those in the San Jose area, we have an extra special guest – Donna Salvo, Executive Director, Systemwide Talent Management and Staff Development at the University of California. Donna will explain how the University rose to the challenge of creating and deploying targeted development programs that skill and prepare more than 46,000 people managers across a geographically- dispersed system.

Mark your calendar:

  • San Jose – Tuesday, February 21: 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.  (Scott’s Seafood)
    Click here to reserve a space.
  • Sacramento – Wednesday, February 22: 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. (The Firehouse Restaurant)
    Click here to reserve a space.

Looking forward to seeing you there!


November 1, 2016

South Florida & Boston HR Pros – Let’s Talk Learning & Talent Maturity!

One of the things I love about my job is getting out there on the road and meeting with customers and other HR professionals talking about where our space is headed. It’s always interesting to hear perspectives on the paths companies are taking to get more out of their talent and help employees get more out of themselves. And I’d expect a lot of this perspective to be swirling around the Hard Rock Hollywood on Thursday, November 3, when we’re hosting a complimentary learning session on the topic of learning and talent maturity with many of the top HR pros in South Florida. (We’re hitting up Boston the following week, where I’m sure the conversation will be just as engaging.)

SumTotal Event

These events combines networking for customers with access to some of our best thinking about taking your learning and talent management practices to the next level. We have 7,000 customers globally and spend a lot of time studying them: many are constantly challenging what’s possible in HR and the workplace. We do our best to bottle up what we’ve learned from their efforts and share it in sessions like this one – to leave attendees with a few nuggets of insight to bring back into their work and teams.

The primary speaker will be Brent Colescott, our Senior Director of Business Strategy and Transformation. Brent has 20 years’ experience in corporate learning and talent management as both a practitioner and an advisor. A passionate student and analyst of our space, Brent spends most of his time on the road sharing that analysis with our customers. He is also the co-author of Skillsoft’s Learning and Talent Maturity Framework, which will be the basis for much of the program.

A complimentary cocktail hour will follow the South Florida event. Hope you can join us!


Hollywood, FL | Thursday, Nov. 3, 2pm – 6pm

Boston, MA | Thursday, Nov. 10, 8am – 12pm

October 28, 2016

The City of Light Shines on HR

I have just arrived home from Paris for the HR Tech World Congress, an event that has grown exponentially in both size and significance since the first one back in 2011. It has been a busy affair, with lots of great speakers, and tons of companies using the shared venue and opportunity to demonstrate and showcase all manner of HR solutions, applications and platforms.

HR Tech World Paris

When I come to these types of events I am always curious about two things – the takeaways and the food. Thankfully—this being Paris—I am happy to report that the food has all been excellent. The content of the conference was equally good, and I’m pleased to bring so many gems, nuggets of brilliance, and insight back to the office.

So, what is on everyone’s lips – apart from crumbly, flaky, buttered-to-perfection croissants?

  • Employee engagement: We still have not comprehensively or conclusively solved this challenge, and it continues to be a growing concern and priority for everyone.
  • Staying power: Since employees  now average 2.75 years in one job, companies need to up the ante to do everything they can to retain staff and prevent both talent and investment walking away to a competitor.
  • Analytics: Lots and lots of talk around this, particularly surrounding output of your LMS.
  • On the go: Everyone wants to reassure everyone else that all their solutions and platforms are mobile-friendly.

SumTotal Demo at HR Tech World

In truth, anyone in HR is already very familiar with these issues, and there was a slight sense of déjà vu about some of the presentations.

Seeking out something new, I attended the Women in HR Tech session, presented by Pascale van Damme, Managing Director, Dell Benelux; Naomi Bloom, Managing Partner, Bloom and Wallace; Kim Wylie, Change and Transformation Lead, Google for Work and Leighanne Levensaler, Senior VP, Workday.

When it comes women in the workplace I like to hear practical, pragmatic, constructive advice. I want to know what we can do to make changes. With this in mind, here are the top 5 takeaways I gathered from this session:

  • Women are still underrepresented in tech. To redress this you must actively pursue and recruit women. How? By offering a workplace that works with women, not against them. By using language in job specs that women connect with, by offering flexible work schedules and by providing defined career paths and opportunities.
  • Hire a diverse team. To do this you need a diverse hiring team. Both men and women are more likely to hire a man over a woman, so ensure your team has undergone conscious bias training, to prevent (or at least highlight) bias.
  • Review current practice. Kim explained how Google has changed the way the company promotes internally. The old method was based on self-nomination and since very few women actually do this, fewer women were promoted; but once they changed the process, the numbers evened out.
  • Start benchmarking. How can we determine if progress is being made if we do not have the data to measure it?
  • Network, network, network. Find a mentor or a sponsor and keep learning. In short – stay involved.

If you attended HR Tech Paris this year, I’d love to know what you thought—share your comments below.

June 17, 2016

3 Great Reasons to Visit SumTotal at SHRM 2016

If you’re planning to attend the SHRM Annual Conference & Exposition 2016 in Washington, D.C. next week, make sure to visit booth 709! Some of my SumTotal colleagues will be there and they’ve got all kinds of treats in store for HR pros who stop by to talk talent management:

SHRM Booth

1. A sweet surprise

Admit it; after a full day of sessions, you need something to get you going again. Reward and revitalize yourself with a snack that comes with a cool delivery experience—just like everything we serve up on our HCM platform.

2. A chance to win an Amazon gift card

We scan your badge, you get entered into a raffle for an Amazon gift card. It’s that easy. We’re serious about providing value to HR professionals, and the chance at a gift card is just the beginning. Once you’re part of our email list, you’ll get regular updates and insight on how to better engage your staff, implement modern workforce management practices and provide personalized development experiences for all your employees.

3. Demos of the SumTotal Talent Expansion ® Suite

Are you ready to grow capabilities, optimize performance and elevate your workforce? Learn how the SumTotal Talent Expansion® Suite delivers robust talent, learning and workforce capabilities that make it simple to meet the holistic needs of your organization.

Brandon Hall Group recently recognized us for Best Advance in Integrated Talent Management Platform, praising the compelling yet simple user interface and “people-centric design.” If you’re attending SHRM, we’d love to show you first-hand a few of the areas recognized in this award. For example, how to:

  • Unify skills and competency development needs with relevant learning opportunities
  • Equip your people with tools for career progression
  • Embed meaningful learning and content throughout development actions
  • Create visibility across your workforce with robust reporting capabilities

Come get to know the new SumTotal—we’re looking forward to meeting you in D.C. next week!

Can’t go to the show but still want to learn more about the SumTotal Talent Expansion Suite? Request a demo.

May 31, 2016

On the Road to the Self-Developing Organization

We’re packing our bags and going on a road trip! SumTotal is coming to a location near you as part of a six-city tour across the United States and Canada to share the story of the Self-Developing Organization with HR and learning professionals. And we want to meet you. So take a break, step out of the office and join us. Come connect with peers and learn some new ways to approach your company’s talent and learning strategy.

SumTotal Summer Road Show

I know it’s hard to justify packing another event into your busy schedule, but this new approach might make your job a whole lot easier. We have made it simpler than ever for your organization to succeed by optimizing the capabilities of your people. Each event includes a complimentary breakfast or dinner, (yeah free food) and a discussion where SumTotal executives, thought leaders, customers and partners \ share  best practices for engaging and empowering employees with a self-directed path for individualized development. A path that includes career mobility and continuous learning—two major factors in getting your staff to stay with the company.

SumTotal Road Show Presentation

“We know that opportunities for development and mobility within an organization are two of the biggest drivers of employee engagement and the retention of key talent, which are proven to be critical to optimizing performance, productivity and profitability,” said John Ambrose, SumTotal General Manager. “We work with a majority of America’s Best Employers and we look forward to meeting with companies across the country to share how this technology-enabled approach makes it possible for every organization to be a terrific place to work.”

We’ll also be hosting live demos of the latest release of the SumTotal Talent Expansion® Suite, highlighting how this industry-leading innovation enables your business to become a Self-Developing Organization.

You’ll learn about:

  • Personalized Learning Recommendations: SumTotal’s intelligent algorithm considers each individual’s unique career aspirations, topical interests and other factors to serve up learning content and activities where they will have the greatest impact on development and career progression.
  • Enterprise Search: Groundbreaking search capabilities bring the consumer experience to the workplace by connecting people to courses, videos, learning activities, colleagues, and administrative functions from a single search box accessible from anywhere in the suite, making it easier for users to find what they are looking for and eliminate frustration.
  • Configurable, Role-Based Dashboards: Unparalleled personalization capabilities give each person the ability to build their own profile page; a page just for, and all about, them.
  • Continuous Performance Feedback: It’s easy for employees to request, give and review comments and coaching on specific competencies, goals or projects and tie them to the performance review.

Our Seminar Series kicked off in Denver, Colorado during the ATD Conference, then we headed over to San Francisco. Next stops include:

Dallas, TX on Tuesday, June 28 | 7:30-10 AM

New York City on Wednesday, June 29 | 6-8:30 PM

Toronto, ON on Tuesday, July 12| 8-10:30 AM

Washington DC on Wednesday, July 13 | 5:30-8 PM

Space at each event is limited, so if you are a HR or learning professional who wants to learn how self-developing organizations transform their talent strategies to deliver business impact, reach out to your account manager, or contact me to reserve a space. Hope to see you soon!

SumTotal's Denver Road Show