I am incredibly excited to be attending the inaugural HR Tech World Congress this month. Partly because having been to the HR Tech Europe events in London and Amsterdam, I know I can expect some great speakers, slick production and interesting conversations over the course of two days. Partly because the big draw is Sir Richard Branson himself. And I won’t lie, partly because it’s in Paris (j’adore).
My background is on the learning and talent side of HR and indeed, learning is the focus of just one of the streams of the conference. But when I look at the big picture at the moment, learning it seems, is where it’s at. In the last couple of years, MOOCs have taken off in an incredible way and the phenomenal investment in so called ed-tech companies like Coursera stands at over $2 billion in 2015 alone. Recent backing of organisations such as Fuse Universal securing $10 million follow this trend. Such levels of speculation would not be happening if learning was not (potentially at least) big business.
The real prompt to write this post was the announcement at the end of last week about Workday Learning. Workday has grown exponentially but previously they have partnered with the likes of Saba and Cornerstone OnDemand to provide a learning solution. However, they are committed to providing a complete suite for the enterprise and are focused on further growth, particularly in Europe.
Interestingly, Workday’s focus seems to be on supporting video based content and the social elements of learning. As we all know, there has been enormous criticism of learning management systems for focusing too much on administrators and taking a ‘command and control’ approach with learners forgotten about for too long. But I have seen for myself the lengths to which many established LMS providers (and new kids on the block) have gone to really change the way their systems work and make them more learner-centric and user friendly.
So why is Workday investing here, and why are all the other LMS providers trying to keep up with the evolving ways we learn now? Because the learning market is alive and kicking (and I don’t just mean the LMS market when I say that). Because upskilling and developing people needs to be a priority for organisations today. It is costly to lose staff (this figure is from 2014 but astonished me). Retaining and nurturing the talent pipeline and the ‘leaders of tomorrow’ is now seen as business critical.
If learning is really where it’s at though, why aren’t L&D taking a more prominent seat and holding more top level influence in organisations? Recent research still demonstrates a gap between L&D priorities and overall business strategy. But if developing talent and training staff is in itself a business priority, why does this gap still exist? Is something getting lost in translation? I am not pretending to have the answers but surely we can bridge this gap more effectively?
As an event that spans the whole spectrum of HR, I am intrigued to see how much focus is on learning and performance at HR Tech World Congress in some of the plenary and keynote sessions. Those outside L&D perhaps need to understand more about the positive impact learning could have on their organisation. And those inside might benefit from a broader view of their business context. I will be aiming to share as much insight as I can. And there are some great writers already contributing content via #HRTechWorld in the build up to the event. So tune in if you can and I’ll keep you posted. Au revoir!
Disclaimer: I have no links to Workday or any vested interest in writing about their recent announcement.