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June 26, 2017

How to Achieve Effective Learning in the Age of Personalisation


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It’s no secret that organisations are struggling to engage people’s interest when it comes to learning and development. Part of the problem is that companies are still running either day-long, generic training sessions or mundane webinars that fail to be effective because they focus on the subject, rather than the learner.

The reality is that technology has changed how we absorb information, and our expectations of the learning experience. People are turning to YouTube, Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs), TedTalks, and a host of other channels to find engaging, easy to digest content that is personalised to their particular interests and goals.

Isn’t it time businesses followed suit and overhauled their learning and development programs to correspond to changing consumer habits?

Yes is the answer. And it is easier than ever to do.

All it takes is following these four steps and you will ensure your business is delivering effective learning in the digital age.

1. Make your content relatable

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Everything from online shopping ads to healthcare is increasingly personalised, consumers expect learning content that “speaks” to them; it has to be relatable. Retention is always higher when people experience training where they recognise the players. We use actors in our training videos who portray recognisable characters – perhaps someone who is always doing things wrong, or a manager who is calm under pressure. It’s almost like an episode of “Friends” – you know what each of the characters’ strengths and flaws are. It may sound silly, but this form of learning creates empathy and relatability between the character and the learner and, ultimately, makes the message stick.

2. Keep sessions short

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In between emails, texts, Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat and more, it’s hardly surprising that our attention is divided and short snippets of content are going to be much more effective than a learning session lasting hours. Through regular testing and surveys, we’ve found that around five minutes is the ideal length for a learning module – long enough to convey an important lesson, and short enough to sustain interest so the facts are retained.

3. Allow self-guided learning

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Companies need to get better at merging personal development with professional development to make the experience more valuable and meaningful for the learner. If, for example, an employee wants to learn about “Time Management,” they should be able to do their own search and then pick and choose from the best books, videos, and courses on the topic – whichever is most suited to their needs and how they like to learn. Learners should be able to read, watch, or listen to content to suit their needs.

The next step for learning providers will be allowing access to public material. We’re moving toward learners being able to curate any form of content through a single platform and gain learning credit for it.

4. Invest in consumer-led technology

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The future of learning isn’t just personalised, it’s also real-time. If you’re a manager dealing with a difficult situation at work, you need have immediate access to information that enables you to solve the problem quickly and effectively.

It’s important to find the right technology partner who offers a truly consumer-led experience and can provide ongoing technical and even strategic support to help you to stay ahead of the latest trends and game-changing functionality – and make it as easy as possible for you and your learners to use.

I’m delighted to say Skillsoft ticks those boxes. Our newest learning platform, Percipio, offers each user their own personalized homepage complete with playlists, recommendations and suggestions all based on the user’s interests. And we use the same elastic search capabilities as Facebook and Netflix – again giving the learner the experience they know and expect from consumer sites.

Simply put – it all boils down to giving a learning experience that puts the individual first.

May 15, 2017

Join Us at the 2017 India Perspectives


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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!

March 28, 2017

Participate in our Exciting New Research with Fosway Group!


Got a spare 20?

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I’m talking about minutes, because that’s all it takes to complete a Fosway and SumTotal survey, but the results will give us a wealth of data.

Data we will then use to paint the most current and accurate landscape of learning and talent management in organisations across EMEA.

Why is this information important to us?

Because we will use this invaluable material as we continue to design and create world class eLearning and HCM tools. Our thinking is, how can we know what you, the customer, wants unless you tell us? And here is your chance to do so. Your time to let us know what is working and what isn’t, what we need to change and how we can change.

And hey, if you haven’t got 20 – how about 5 or 10?

You don’t have to finish it in one sitting, you can return to the survey and resume where you left off – just don’t forget to save your data as you complete the form.

And I know how hectic your schedules are so why should you invest time answering our survey?

For loads of reasons, but primarily because this is a great opportunity to have your say, your voice heard, in a project run jointly by us and Fosway, Europe’s #1 learning analyst and who, for over 20 years, have provided unique insight into the world of corporate learning technology and innovation.

Be a part of the solution, the future.

When do you get the results?

The results will be officially announced by David Wilson, 16th May at our EMEA Perspectives event, but all those who participated in the survey will receive their own results report first.

To complete the survey https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/SSST17

March 15, 2017

Three Steps to Maximize Your HCM System ROI


“Exceptional ROI is the norm, not the exception”

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I was in line the other morning waiting for my usual—double shot Americano with room for cream—when I overheard a conversation between the two young women who were directly behind me.

And no, it wasn’t a juicy conversation about personal matters…it was a work matter. One of them, not sure which one, as it would have been impolite to keep turning around—was under a lot of pressure from her boss to select a new HCM system for their organization. Her friend was trying to give her advice. I emphasize trying because in truth, not a lot of what she said either made sense or was even accurate. Back in the day, this would have been point when I would have handed her my card. Today we write a blog about it. SO, this is for you White Chocolate Mocha and Chai Tea.

Choosing the technology for human capital management is a big deal. There are a ton of vendors out there and each promises the world. In truth, few deliver and no one wants to be the person who recommended a particular system only for it to fail to deliver on its promises.

Let’s boil this dilemma down and solve it with three simple steps.

Step 1 Identify the wish list

Compile a list of your requirements: what you want/need/would like to see done with the new HCM. Analyze your talent, learning, and workforce management strategies. Assume that you don’t need to live without anything on your wish list, because chances are, your requirements are more attainable than you might think. We know that you’re hearing from other vendors that you may need a fully customized (read: costly) solution or try to squeeze your organization into a one-size-fits-all box. If that happens to you, see the red flag and find a vendor who doesn’t shy away from complex requirements. The cloud is fantastic, but in some cases, on-premise may be exactly what you need. The point is not to sell yourself short.

We’re hosting a webinar on vetting requirements—specifically for Workforce Management—on April 18. Check it out and register: Four Things To Do Before Signing Your WFM Provider Contract.  

Step 2 See the whole picture

To begin you might only need a small number of modules… to do things such as solving your employee retention problem, doing a better job at onboarding, or even optimizing self-service with shift trading. I caution you not to fall into the trap of thinking short-term and focusing on only your immediate need. We see many prospective customers come running to us as needs emerge and they’re overwhelmed with disparate HR systems. Not all HCMs are created equal, and some have the capability to expand as needed without additional costs or customization.

It’s also important to fully realize your potential ROI from your HCM investment. In a recent Nucleus Research report, Four HCM Mistakes to Avoid, it discusses that decision-makers often overlook that “modern technology for HCM costs less to implement and operate,” thereby yielding “major gains in productivity…[and] a significant ROI.”

Step 3 Set the Right time

The point-of-need for upgrading or deploying a new HCM is before there’s a problem. If you’re starting to see that your system is becoming unworkable—start comparing vendors now. The Nucleus report also states that many SMBs in particular wait too long. Don’t do that! Plus, the sooner you get started, the sooner you will experience the ROI which will simply increase as time passes and your company grows.

To my colleagues in the coffee shop and everywhere else, I hope this helps.

For information about our HCM and what it can do for you, schedule a demo. For additional reading, check out the research note that I referenced above “Four HCM Mistakes to Avoid.”

October 25, 2016

Making the ROI of L&D Count – A CFO’s Perspective


The role of the CFO has changed dramatically in recent years. Now they are responsible for not only financial reporting, but also for performance acceleration; for driving analysis and providing the perspective and insights needed to link corporate strategy to execution.

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As a result, CFOs must demonstrate a deep understanding of how their organisations invest their resources to achieve business goals, improve organisational capabilities and drive performance. Given that human capital represents a company’s biggest investment, it comes as no surprise that increasingly CFOs are finding themselves having to not only quantify what’s being spent on training, development and talent management, but also assess how that translates into value for the enterprise.

To further complicate this predicament, too often money spent on training and development is not reported in financial statements. As a result, it does not get the attention it warrants. Despite an average company spend of 36% of revenue on human capital expenses, only 16% say they have anything more than a moderate understanding of the return on human capital investments. This dearth of information is problematic for everyone, but for the CFO it presents a colossal challenge.

The vast majority of CFOs view human capital as a key value driver and a central factor in their company’s ability to achieve outcomes that drive shareholder value,  in the UK alone businesses currently invest over £40 billion a year on formal training, and that’s without taking into account the considerable amount of additional time and resources UK firms commit to addressing the skills challenge that lies ahead. So the big question becomes how best to support workforce development and achieve the best return on your organisation’s investment in L&D?

SumTotal decided to answer this. After extensive research into the area we have produced a white paper, “The Hidden Cost of Talent — A CFO guide to maximising the ROI of Learning & Development,” which examines the most pressing issues around talent management, exposes those areas most prone to financial leakage and calculates the cost of talent management.

Our insights will help you understand how your organisation should invest its resources to improve organisational capabilities and achieve business goals – and the value creation that generates.

Download your copy of the paper now.

 

December 26, 2014

Learning – No Longer Optional


In the face of today’s hypercompetitive market, driving learning to the core of company culture is key to attracting and retaining top talent. Workforce editor Kate Everson recently connected with SumTotal and Skillsoft executives to talk about the evolution of learning delivery. The bottom line – organizations are facing a skills gap that only investments in learning can close.Evolution of learning delivery

They pointed to a recent U.S. Labor Department report, which highlighted the difference in job openings versus hiring patterns, as proof of the need for better internal development. As Jackie Funk, SumTotal’s senior vice president of global marketing, said, “Organizations might have employees who are capable right in their existing workforce or they might be looking to hire, but if they don’t have a system in place that helps them grow, they’re not going to be as successful.”

Research shows that today’s employees desire opportunities to grow and advance in their careers. According to the Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends 2014 report, “Twenty-first century employees have radically different expectations about work than those of previous generations. [They] want to work for organizations that continually invest in developing their skills, thereby enabling them to stay relevant in the ever-changing workforce.”

Employees have spoken and many executives have heard their concerns. A whopping 70 percent of Deloitte’s survey respondents indicated that learning and development is a priority for their organizations. Year 2015 presents the opportunity to turn those thoughts into actions.

Integrated training and development can increase efficiency, employee satisfaction and retention. By delivering context-aware, pervasive learning in the moment of need, the right technology can improve the way people work and helps employees get better at their jobs while they’re doing them.

Read the full article, including other insights from SumTotal and Skillsoft, on Workforce.com.

September 29, 2014

Changing the Face of HR


It’s true, change is good.  Change has a profound impact on markets, organizations and individuals – but, there is a reason the saying isn’t ‘change is easy.’  As a human resources professional, you’re living (and coping with) the shifts taking place across the HR landscape. Talent is sparse and globally dispersed, workforce demographics and demands are changing, employee engagement is low and tomorrow’s leaders need to be identified and developed today. And, this is only a small sampling of the challenges keeping leaders awake at night! The ability to anticipate, cope with and overcome these challenges can have a profound impact on business performance, and as a result they are truly changing the face of HR.

Working in a company comprised of so many HR-focused experts, and partnering with and having discussions with HR professionals every day, I see and feel the shift too.  As technology and best practices evolve to meet challenges and trends, we continue to see three themes rising to the top when it comes to arming yourself to embrace the evolution and declare, “Change is good!”Changing-faces-of-HR

Here are three ways to get started:

Simplicity.
With a compounding number of solutions and processes available to find, manage, develop and reward talent, it doesn’t seem achievable or realistic to encourage simplicity to the overwhelmed HR professional.  More often than not, we think complex matters require complex solutions. When you take a step back from the chaos, you see that simplicity can in fact be at the heart of the matter.  Simplicity doesn’t translate to a simplistic solution, rather the exact opposite.  As Josh Bersin highlighted in a recent Forbes article hailing simplicity as the next big thing in HR,” I’m not saying that our HR, talent, and leadership programs should be simplistic - in fact they have to be very profound and well designed.” In an evolving digital workplace, technologies will only be effective if they are well-adopted by those they are meant to serve.

How can an effective, sophisticated solution support simplicity?

  • Be sure it’s easy to use.  Whether it’s a technology or a workflow, make it easy for your audience to adopt.  If something is too cumbersome to incorporate into daily work, it won’t get used – and therefore, won’t product the results you are looking for.
  • Bring it all together.  I don’t know anybody that enjoys taking longer to do their job, or is happy when they duplicate effort.  When you integrate processes and technologies, you bring simplicity to the forefront of getting a job done.

Agility.
I hear it and read it over and over, ”HR needs to work strategically.” What exactly does this mean? At the root of being a strategic partner to business stakeholders is the need for HR to prepare the organization to be agile enough to move with the demands of the business. As noted in the Accenture study, ‘HR Drives the Agile Organization,’ “To compete in a rapidly changing world, HR will fundamentally reshape itself so that the function becomes a critical driver of agility.”  The role HR plays in building agile capabilities across the organization is essential to achieving success in shifting markets and economies.

How can you begin to contribute to creating organizational agility?

  • Get a clear view of your workforce.  How can you align your workforce to meet changes in organizational priorities if you don’t have a comprehensive view of HR data?  Assess and prepare the workforce to put talent where it is most needed and fill gaps.
  • Create just-in-time learning opportunities.  If markets, products or customer demands change are you prepared to develop your people as they work? Prepare the workforce to adapt by ensuring they can quickly learn the skills they need and apply those skills where needed by the organization.

Innovation.
There are even more changes impacting HR – corporate offices are getting smaller, tablets and smartphones are everywhere, and the changing workforce wants more than an annual pay increase to stay put.  If you ignore any of these as a driving force in keeping employees engaged and productive, don’t be surprised by a slip in performance.  Give employees innovative, cutting-edge solutions that support these new ways of working and you’re likely to propel employee engagement and impact retention.

What kind of innovative solutions can really make a difference?

  • The new way to work.  Mobile, social and collaboration tools help employees stay connected and engaged regardless of geography.  It seems innovations in this space pop up almost daily, so find the ones that will truly bring value to the way your people work.
  • Keep them happy. Find new ways to reward, recognize and retain your top talent.  Whether it is through continuous feedback, leadership training or a clear development path – find what motivates people and leverage new solutions to give them what they need to succeed (and, stick around).

What do you think? How is your organization embracing change? Leave a comment below!

September 18, 2014

Don’t you want my money?


That’s the thought that runs through my head when I am:

  • fumbling through a poorly designed website trying to find information,
  • spending too much time on the phone with an uniformed service or support rep,
  • attempting to use a new product that is overly complex, or
  • dealing with nonsensical policies that make doing business difficult or impossible.

Customer experience is influenced at every touch point. The examples I mentioned above are focused on information and training: information that I need as a customer or information that a company employee needs to do the best job possible. That includes writers of the nonsensical policies that can drive customers away.

By 2020 customer experience will be the key product differentiator, far more important than quality or price.¹ In less than six years, customers will choose the product or service from the company that provides the best overall experience. In fact, it has already started and will continue to grow over time — we’re not going to wake up on January 1, 2020 to a whole new world (that was January 1, 2000.)

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Information roadblock
There is no better time than right now to start improving the experience your company delivers.

So, where do you start?

There is a well-known connection between customer experience and employee learning programs. They have the ability to increase knowledge, subject mastery, satisfaction and engagement. But, often learning programs are limited to the internal employees who want to improve their impact on customer experience. Your extended enterprise — your network of customers and partners — are often neglected, yet they are just as important to the overall experience.

The first step to improve your overall customer experience is removing the roadblocks that keep your customers and partners from the information and training they need. Make it easy to find information on your website, and grant them access to relevant learning material and training programs

Extending the enterprise
One of the best tools to expand your learning programs to your entire business ecosystem is leveraging your learning management system (LMS). Most people think of their LMS as just an employee system, but extending learning to your external network will deliver the same value to them that it does your employees. They need information to understand your products, to build expertise, and to get answers when they need them.  It’s more than providing a central hub of information. Customers and partners need targeted, easy to find, relevant information, available at any time, and updated frequently.

You can learn more about the benefits of extending learning to your external partners. We’ve developed a new ebook “A Roadmap to Superior Customer Experience through Learning” to help you get started.

 


¹Customers 2020: The Future of B-to-B Customer Experience Report. Walker Research

September 4, 2014

Investing in the Extended Enterprise


The level and quality of customer experience you provide as a business, or lack thereof, can make or break your success. Customers  want it all – innovative products, impeccable customer service, quick delivery and stress free support. This isn’t a secret. Everyone has experienced the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to customer experience. And these experiences always leaves us wondering – what more could that organization have done to deliver on its promise?SumTotal Blog Extended Enterprise

Gone are the days where organizations can rely solely on internal stakeholders to grow their bottom line and achieve business goals. Surviving and thriving in today’s business climate requires leaders to look beyond their enterprise to the people who interact with and support the brand day-by-day, the very ones who in fact now have more influence over brand perception than anyone else.

These external audiences – AKA, The Extended Enterprise – are made up of a dynamic and diversified set of customers, partners, contingent workers, brokers, dealers, channel sales and other external sales and service providers. The Extended Enterprise is often found at the front lines of your business. They are interacting with customers, providing support and reselling your products and solutions.

The non-employee constituents who make up the Extended Enterprise represent underdeveloped potential (and dare I say risk!) to organizations if they’re experience isn’t optimal, or if they’re not set up for success.

How can you capitalize on this untapped potential?
It’s simple. Extend your learning and training programs to all business stakeholders – not just the internal folks. Companies that use their learning management system (LMS) to deliver training and information to external audiences generate nine times more annual revenue growth per full-time employee than organizations that do not. Those same companies also experience a 33% increase in customer retention.¹

How can you get started?
We’ve done the work for you! Join SumTotal for our upcoming Extended Enterprise webinar series, aimed at helping organizations understand the benefits of expanding the scope of learning and training across their entire value chains, from vendors and suppliers to channel partners, distributors, subcontractors, resellers and customers.

Hear best practices, tips and guidance from leading industry experts on everything from how to get started, to in-depth strategies and case studies.

Register now for our three-part webinar series:

Stay tuned for more upcoming resources, including getting started guides and case studies, highlighting the value of expanding your learning programs beyond the walls of your organization.

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¹Aberdeen Group. Customers and Learning: Extending the Boundaries, October 2013

September 3, 2014

#HRBuzz: Learning Steals the Spotlight in August


Fall is just around the corner and as we wrapped up the end of summer and started sending our kids back to school, the HR industry thought leaders and bloggers focused in on some hot learning topics.sumtotal blog - classroom

A number of posts and articles were written this month on all different types of learning and corporate growth, but here are some of our favorites:

Putting learners at the centerCatina Barnett, discussed transforming her approach to learning from teacher-centered to learner-centered in “Engaging Learning: Stepping Through the Looking Glass.

Corporate learning technology is HOT – Bersin by Deloitte released new research on the Learning Management Systems market and the rapid growth of the industry due in part to an increased focus on developing employees globally. Check out Josh Bersin’s post giving a brief recap of the research findings.

Training your leaders the right waySamuel Bachararh discussed tips for choosing the right leadership program for your organization. Check out his post, featured on INC.

Maximizing productivity through corporate culture – Over on the Forbes Leadership Blog, Steve Olenski’s post, “How One Brand Uses Corporate Culture to Maximize Productivity,” covered the influence that corporate culture can have on productivity and engagement.

Get in a learning state of mind – If you are looking for a little learning motivation check out the “20 Inspirational Learning Quotes” on the SumTotal blog.

And one topic not related to learning, but definitely worth mentioning:

Is a week-long vacation a thing of the past? – If you are American, the answer might be yes. Steve Boese took on the topic in his post “The Shrinking American Vacation.” While you are reading up on the topic, check out Kathy Rapp’s post on Fistful of Talent too.

We would love to hear about all of your favorite blogs and articles that you come across in September. Leave a comment below or send @SumTotalSystems or @emilymarcovich a tweet, then stop back at the end of the month to see if your pick made the cut!