“Technology is eating the world” – Marc Andreesen

At Actionable, we have a lot of conversations on Slack about data. Not just data insights from our Conversations platform (although we love to talk about that), or work-related metrics (although that’s popular too), but other types of data sources weave their way into our conversations as well. Discussions about Fitbit challenges and how we could track our steps together, or reviews of apps for tracking personal habit change processes. Our water-cooler conversations are rich in data discussions.

It’s not unique to Actionable staff. For most of us, every facet of our lives is imbued with technology and data. We carry computers on our wrists, tap our phones to order coffee or catch a ride, and can even control our thermostats remotely. With the use of this technology comes the potential for measurement and data collection. We come to expect that data gathered from one source will be applied to another. There’s an expectation that data will flow, that insight and deeper understanding will come with it. Technology is playing a huge part in just about everything, and learning and development is no exception.

I firmly believe, and this is probably one of the most definitive stances I take, that technology will lead faster to every learning practitioner’s redundancy, or will be harnessed to enhance their relevance. Consultants will not be afforded the option to sit back and continue to maintain the same type of businesses they’ve had. Faced with the changing requirements from their clients, and the need to provide quantifiable evidence of benefits and impact, traditional “front of the room” learning solutions will become harder and harder to sell, leaving consultants working harder and harder as their offerings become more and more redundant.

The alternative is to tap into technology, and enhance relevance to an increasingly tech-savvy workforce.

The good news is that while spending on consulting and classroom-style learning is down, total spend on learning and development is up. Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends 2016 Report clearly echoes this, with more than 80% of leaders indicating learning as either important or very important. But they want clear and tangible value for the learning investments they make.

As I talked about earlier in this series, there’s a strong push to make learning programs more measureable, and the changes in learning tech gives us the ability to generate ROI data on behavior change outcomes that create easier program renewal decisions.

Technology brings significant opportunities and expectations for personalizing how learning is delivered and measured. We continue to see mention of trends like microlearning and the ability to weave small slices of learning into the workday. With the integration of MOOCs into corporate learning programs, and the influence of technology-savvy workers asking for platform solutions they can tailor to their needs, the one-size-fits-all learning solutions of past years need to evolve.

With millennials making up 75% of the global workforce by 2025, there’s a whole new generation moving into management roles, adding to the push for personalization in learning. The shift, I think, is not so much in what they’re learning but rather in how they’re learning. There’s an ease of access of information that millennials have always had, which means their learning needs are more centered around context and applicability unique to their work and individual career growth needs, over simple content consumption. They want to immediately understand the value to them, not participate in generic learning with limited benefits.

By removing barriers to how learning is pursued and consumed, excuses for non-participation are more difficult to make. The push for personalization means that individualized tracking of outcomes can also occur, which can then be aggregated to team, division, and organization snapshots.

Technology can also remove some of the number-crunching analytics workload for you. Previously lengthy processes can be automated, and data can support (or contradict) anecdotal evidence, giving your clients the analytics they need to justify continued investment. As their consulting partner, you’re in a position to increase the value you’re providing without increasing the number of hours in your work week. The measurable insights that can be gathered by leveraging technology can differentiate your services in a crowded market.

Technology is driving significant change in the learning space. What are you doing to evolve your business to meet the demand for analytics and data-driven ROI?

This is part three of our four part series on trends in learning, which we refer to as the “Shifting Learning Landscape.” Read part one: The Need for Learning ROI, and part two: Time and attention are at a Premium.