Learning Market Update October 2013

The fast changing nature of technology is continuing to have a significant impact on businesses and how they work. This month we take a look at what is called the consumerisation of IT and its impact on learning.  

Technology in corporates is being outpaced by changes in consumer technology. The nature and impact of consumer technology change is not waiting for corporate strategies, policies or guidelines and in many respects is increasingly driving and shaping strategies. BlackBerry devices are a textbook example, corporate IT departments fought to keep staff on BlackBerrys for many good reasons including security but the consumer world was moving to iPhones and Android devices. Corporate IT departments were left behind and are only now catching up with consumer devices such as smartphones or tablets. BlackBerry failed to keep up with the changes and went from a $83bn company to a $5bn company.

The consumerisation of IT is not limited to hardware. Webinar style communication software such as Skype or Google Hangouts are being adopted by staff in much the same way as staff already use Google to access information.

This consumerisation is creating experiences that staff expect to be replicated at work. These include high quality of screen and technology experiences - and much greater control. People increasingly have more control, such as when they watch TV or whether they bank online. Most households now own at least three internet connected devices and use these seamlessly to perform tasks, moving from one device to another.

This technology, such as smartphones, is being brought into the workplace as customers adopt new technology. Customers are complaining and asking questions via social media even if companies have not set up these channels formally. Gartner have estimated that companies that do not respond via social media channels will experience a 15% increase in the churn rate for existing customers.

Fundamentally customers and staff have become much more technology savvy and are driving changes independently of any elearning strategy or technology strategy in businesses.

What It Means For Learning
This consumerisation of IT will have an impact on learning as staff:

  • Expect to seek and access information online as they need it
  • Expect to work seamlessly across devices; they expect to start a task on one device and finish on another
  • Have a low tolerance for technology that is difficult to use or doesn’t work
  • Have online social networks where they seek support which are increasingly work-related
  • Expect a more personalised experience
  • Expect more control over when and how they learn
These more technically savvy staff are not waiting for learning departments to take advantage of new technologies. For example, staff apprentices in one business set up their own Facebook group separately from any direction corporately and started engaging in social learning. In another business specialists started running their own virtual classroom sessions without reference to training teams or being taught how to run webinars. Free tools like Google Hangouts and Skype are providing richer functionality and allow commenting, screen sharing and video sharing which many staff are familiar with using at home and will increasingly expect to use similar technology at work.

The developments in technology are exciting and offer lots of opportunities for corporate learning. However, learning departments may struggle to keep up and find themselves being driven by consumer trends and by learners themselves.

By Steve Rayson

 
 

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