In this time of fiscal uncertainty, organisations need to become more productive, and adapt rapidly to change. It is a fine balancing act to consider innovative ways of engaging staff in training, learning and development with having minimal impact on staff productivity levels. Over the past three years the economic climate has forced organisations to revisit their learning strategies. Companies that strike the right balance have:
- easy and effective delivery of training materials.
- content that can be easily imported directly from other sources, or developed for multiple devices as required.
- use tools which enable easy analysis of usage by learners and impact.
- the ability to undertake training on the move.
In the Towards Maturity 2012 Benchmark Report: Bridging the Gap survey, organisations were asked to self-assess their ‘eLearning maturity’. See Figure 1 for distribution of respondents in terms of perceived maturity. Those that are more mature in their use of eLearning technologies are realising significant benefits measured in terms of:
- increased business benefit – in terms of speed, competency and responsiveness to business demand.
- increased learning efficiency – in terms of cost savings, time savings and volume of learning delivered.
Over the last five years the cost of entry for eLearning has reduced and more and more organisations are starting on their journey and realising the benefits it brings.
Skills, Technology, Standards
The business priority for skills as a strategy for growth has been raised by both the Institute of Directors and the Confederation of British Industry.
Poor skills are shackling the economy. 47% of employers say that their staff lack the skills to do their job. This fact impacts business through increased workload for other staff (reported by 61%), curtailed growth (58%), higher operational costs (32%), compromised quality (34%), lost orders (25%), and stifled innovation (33%).
The skills that have seen the biggest increase in the use of learning technologies in the last three years are the business-critical areas. More skills are being e-enabled than in 2011 with the exception of IT user skills where the number of organisations e-enabling IT user skills has fallen from 59% in 2008 to 55% in 2011. This is interesting given that most organisations say that poor learner IT skills are a significant barrier.
In 2012 this trend has continued with more organisations reporting poor information and communications (ICT) skills (reported by 40%), insufficient staff access to computers (29%) and ICT infrastructure (58%) than ever before. As the technologies become more varied and potentially more complex, more difficulties are encountered with incompatible systems, technical restrictions due to bandwidth and/or firewalls and the IT literacy of learners.
The use of technology in learning is now mainstream, with 78% of organisations using some form of eLearning and eAssessment, and over half planning to increase their use in the next twelve months.
As from November 2012, there are now ten countries in the world with over 100 million mobile subscriptions, ranging from China with over a billion to Nigeria which passed the 100 million mark in August 2012: (http://mobithinking.com/blog/100-million-club).
These top ten countries account for more than 55% of the worlds total mobile subscriptions. Nine out of ten are also in the top ten countries by population in the world, and collectively account for 57% of global population.
Smartphones are starting to move into four camps: Android, Apple, Windows and Blackberry. The other phone providers are settling on these platforms. All Smartphones have good size screen display for graphics, movies and video communication. High speed mobile broadband via wireless is increasingly available. Smarter ways of deploying content via local storage apps are being developed all the time.
The development and increasing spread of mobile technology is not just changing how we access information and communicate. It is also encouraging greater use of this technology to deliver learning and assessment materials.
This is turning the ‘course’ into even more granular ‘modules’ or learning apps. The growing trend is for eLearning on mobile devices to be accessed as performance support tools and used for informal learning as much as formal learning. On-the-move learning tends to be short, snappy and just when you need it.
What will 2013 bring?
More austerity requires innovation. Organisations are spending to save, and embracing technology is seen as the only path to survive. We need to remember to bring our staff with us and develop their skills. Most employees have huge gaps in their technical knowledge as they have learnt to use the technology on their own in their own time and typically only learn enough to get by. Now is the time to redress this and offer on-line formal (eLearning with eAssessment) ICT training to quickly get staff up-to-speed to enable the advancements that organisations want to bring about.
New browsers, new mobile devices will drive the market into fashion trends that will affect the way we work and communicate. This will increase the use of personal devices at work driving the IT department into massive upgrades to newer platforms with BYOD (bring your own device) enabled. Learners will continue to use resources at work, on the move and at home. These resources have to be able to be delivered on all devices. Responsive design will be big in 2013.
The eLearning market is maturing for some with offerings becoming increasingly sophisticated. The diverse needs of the marketplace make it a good and interesting place to be as there is a great variety of project work to be done.
In 2013, many companies will move to generating a better return for their investment and many in-house open-source projects that have ended up costing far more than they deliver will be halted and replaced with slicker, modern, commercial on-demand licensed models. These will prove to be more cost effective for the organisations going down this road, although there will be a reluctance with the in-house ICT team to embrace this change.
About eCom Scotland
eCom is an award-winning, global organisation, offering a suite of online solutions designed to create a positive, measureable impact on your business. Quite simply, our products and services are easy to use, affordable and engaging. We are all about delivering a great client experience, through the application of technology and learning.
With over 16 years experience, our modular solutions, developed by our in-house team of experts, meet industry standards for accessibility in learning, making what we do available to all.
eCom continues to evolve with client service at the heart of what we do. This is what makes us special, and why clients come back to us time and time again.
Our range of award-winning solutions are already in use by a large number of organisations ranging from SMEs to corporates, government and awarding bodies. Clients include: The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland, Scottish Water, The SCORE Group, The Improvement Service.