How We'll Live, Work and Learn in the Future - Panel Discussion featuring:

David Price, Author, Open, Garry Ridge, CEO, WD-40, Larry Rosenstock, Founder, High Tech Academy


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By John Ambrose, Senior Vice President of Strategy and Corporate Development, Skillsoft

The growing demand for adaptive learning solutions that optimize employees' performance is driving organizations to implement a platform that goes beyond basic employee management. Today's most forward thinking organizations are looking to deliver learning-centric Talent Expansion solutions that drive learning to the core of all business processes and strategies.

Our recently conducted research reveals that organizations need to do a much better job of understanding the learning habits and behaviors of their employees. This gap between what employees actually need and organizations deliver has led to a learning crisis that is forcing a fundamental shift in the way learning will be delivered and consumed in the years to come. Increasingly, we're seeing a shift from the idea that there is a talent crisis to that there is actually more of a learning crisis. This shift is heralding the introduction of what we call the Learning Age – an era that focuses on developing employees to their fullest potential through learning.

In the Learning Age, success, velocity, and market leadership will be defined by very different factors than they were in the past. The ability for organizations to rapidly acquire and apply new knowledge and skills that ensure employee success and advancement will be the critical factor in market leadership. In today's fast-moving, global business environment only those organizations that are committed to pervasive learning across their workforce will earn and sustain their leadership positions.

The underlying key to adaptive learning will be an organization's ability to leverage information. Data-driven, adaptive, individualized learning will be the difference-maker as organizations look to fill skills gaps in an evolving workforce, and we believe that our work in the field of big data is providing the foundational building blocks for this. We're particularly excited about the demonstrable and measurable impact at reasonable scale that we're already seeing in two separate cohorts of live customer pilots where we successfully injected big data techniques into the learning process in organizations with employee populations ranging from a few thousand to nearly 100,000 employees. During our live pilots we found an:

• 84% of users stated that one or more recommendations made by our big data algorithms were relevant to them

• 128% improvement in user engagement with learning assets compared to the baseline

The early results we're seeing with this big data initiative underscore the critical elements of success in this new Learning Age: adaptive, personalized learning and next-generation solutions that will allow organizations to more effectively close skills gaps and build better networks of human capital.

We're heading towards an era where learning will define organizations' success on a global scale more than ever before. With the combination of content-rich learning programs developed through the application of big data and talent-centric solutions, organizations will be able to develop their employees' full potential and create an environment that caters to the talent development of employees, resulting in overall success for the business.

Big data enables organizations to deliver optimized learning experiences and uncover new learning patterns that can be applied immediately so that the system is continually improving. By understanding these learning patterns, organizations can easily adapt their learning solutions to address new situations and equip their workforce for success. This level of adaptive, personalized learning will be paramount in the Learning Age.

We all agree that the shortage of skilled workers impacts organizations around the world. The only way to overcome this shortage is by ensuring that workforces are engaged and given the right learning tools and content so they can quickly build their skills and meet organizational needs. Harnessing technology, specifically sophisticated big data algorithms, will prove to be a critical component to achieving this goal.


Published in Insights

Sales and marketing alignment has become a hot topic as leaders realize that getting the two groups on the same page yields greater revenue growth, shorter sales cycles and higher customer retention. Many organizations, however, struggle to create sales and marketing synergy that delivers a measureable business impact. They fail to recognize and address one of the key barriers to alignment: a lack of marketing training.

Marketo's "2013 Sales and Marketing Alignment Study" reported that in organizations with one to three days of marketing training annually, 21 percent of MQLs (marketing qualified leads) close. Increase training to eight to 10 days a year, and that closing percentage jumps to 35 percent. Organizations with more than 10 days of marketing training per year see closure rates of 60 percent of sales qualified leads that had resulted in proposals.

Why does training make such a big difference? One possible explanation: well-trained marketers deliver more effective programs. They're better equipped to create the types of messages, experiences and calls to action that resonate with their audiences. They're also more likely to understand how to track program results and optimize based on past success or failure.
"In the past, sales has had personalized, one-to-one conversations with prospects, while marketers have delivered higher-level messages target¬ing broader audiences," notes Valerie Witt, MarketingProfs vice president of Professional Development Solutions. "Now, marketers are challenged to deliver more personalized communications that leverage what they know about someone based on their behavior. It's a different approach. There's also greater emphasis on using technology and data to deliver more effective marketing campaigns. Companies that commit to developing their marketers' skills give themselves a competitive advantage."

While investments in sales-centric learning and development are increasing according to the ASTD "2013 State of the Industry" report, marketing training is not keeping pace. In fact, investments in marketing professional development are shrinking as companies attempt to maintain flat budgets while adding in new marketing technologies and tactics.
The recent "CMO Survey" reported that spending on marketing training and developing new marketing capabilities have steadily decreased since August 2012. The survey also found that while companies expect to increase spending on marketing analytics over the next three years, less than half believe they have the right talent to fully leverage analytics.

In addition, most companies plan to increase spending on social media and digital advertising, though only 16 percent have qualitative data on the impact of social media on the business. Almost half — 49 percent — have not been able to show the impact of their social media investments.  "Most businesses are asking marketers to think differently and use new tools without preparing them to do that," Witt says. "Until companies invest in learning for marketers the way they invest in leadership, management and sales development, they're unlikely to realize true sales and marketing alignment."

Published in Top Stories

E-learning, as this magazine has been claiming for years, isn't new. From better ways to onboard new employees to improving overall performance, there are many benefits to e-learning:
>> It boosts productivity by up to 50 percent.
>> It's cost-effective: For every $1 spent, a company receives nearly $30 worth of productivity.
>> It's time-efficient, cutting down instruction time by up to 60 percent.
>> And it improves performance levels.
Yet most companies just offer "typical" solutions; either boring slide-show presentations or nearly hour-long, drawn-out videos with no real focus. If you lose the audience, you lose the knowledge, which means you've lost out on developing a more productive employee.
For video e-learning to be successful, it must have the following four attributes (what e-learning provider ej4 calls its J4 Methodology for creating impactful videos):
(1) Just as needed - One size doesn't fit all. Beginner courses for rookies; advanced courses for more experienced learners. Classroom training can't do that.

(2) Just enough - Shorter, sequential learning is better. Learn one thing, then build on that — one step after another. And, if courses are short, nobody can say, "I don't have time." Then complete the package with handouts and quizzes to reinforce the lesson even more.

(3) Just in time - Learners get it the moment they need it. New product rollouts, updates to compliance or policy — whatever they need to do the job right, right now. Training that's too early or too late is a waste of money.

(4) Just right - Never boring. Learning design methodology must engage — and sometimes entertain.

Some topics that your video e-learning off-the-shelf library should cover:
>> Selling Skills
>> HR/Compliance
>> Supervision/Leadership
>> Safety
>> Software Skills
>> Negotiating
>> Retail Excellence
>> On-screen Talent
>> Presentation Skills
>> Professional Productivity
>> Operations
>> Communications
>> Customer Service
>> Key Account Selling
>> Financial Basics/Compliance

Some companies even offer custom content. For instance, ej4 has a production studio, an editing suite, and world-class corporate trainers.  All of ej4's courses — both off-the-shelf and custom — are short, to the point and full of relevant information, designed for today's worker.  ej4's subject-matter experts develop courses based on proven, academic research. And since its courses are 10 minutes or less, employees have more time to apply what they've learned. They have more time to refresh, if needed, allowing for a more versatile training expe¬rience overall.  Whether you have your own learning management system (LMS), need ej4's, or want to go mobile, ej4 videos integrate seamlessly with any system utilizing the latest in video-based technology.

—More info:

Published in Top Stories

Does blended training require a specific evaluation system? To answer this question, we will take into account all the dimensions of the training, particularly its contextual dimension.
Studies on training effectiveness put the emphasis on quality and relevance of content.

To evaluate the quality of the design (regardless of modality), we will consider, in reference to the work of D. Merril (in "First Principles of Instruction, Educational Technology Research & Development"), the following main points:
>> Content has to be suited to the training objectives.
>> The participants' representations concerning the key elements of content must be expressed and taken into account.
>> Adoption of content must actively commit participants. To do so, it is necessary to facilitate many interactions, between the participants and with the trainer.
>> During the training, the learner has to experiment the effectiveness of the content to solve problems which make sense for him or her.

It is important to keep these criteria in mind when you design the "distance" component of the training. How does an online module leave space for the expression of initial representations? How will the learner be able to compare its performances with those of its peers and obtain feedback from the trainer? How are the suggested problems relevant to him or her?

Built on the designer's representations, an e-learning module or a video do not necessarily generate exchanges or controversy. Hence, the crucial importance, in a blended solution, of using Web conference tools, social media and collaborative tools as educational tools in their own right.

Around courses — whether they are face-to-face or digital — it is crucial to create a true learning environment (mostly when face-to-face interactions are limited). That is to say, collaborative working experiences focusing on problems to be solved, opportunities for each learner to contribute but also to share with the trainer. This specific environment creates the vital ecosystem for the learning process.

It is important to note the needed time for the trainer to monitor the group and each participant — and also the needed time for each learner to attend the distance learning element and to share with other learners.

Evaluate Context in a Blended System
Training is not a "product" you can "ingest" whatever the environment. Its effectiveness can only be understood in an organizational and managerial context.  This is particularly true for blended solutions that associate different training modalities. The "distance" part involves different actors, particularly the management. It has a determining influence on the quality of the participant's learning environment.

During the diagnostic phase preceding the solution's design, it is necessary to check if the manager is able to (and wants to):
>> provide time,
>> provide material (access to computer, smartphone, tablet...), and/or
>> take into account the time spent for training (including exchanges with peers) that do not take place in training rooms.

We can deduce a three-tiered evaluation process including the context and inputs. The contextual environment includes access to distance training methods but also managerial support (or tutoring support), the allotted time and the organization's learning culture. The learning environment integrated into the blended portion covers frequent interactions between trainers and participants, and also between participants and participants. It includes a forum, possibility for everyone to post contributions and to get feedback from peers and/or from the trainer, wikis and other sources.  Evaluation of the design focuses on each part of the training architecture and the coherence of the whole.

—The author, Mathilde Bourdat, works for Cegos.

More information at the website

Published in Top Stories

In 1920, the DuBois Soap Company's motto was "Sell – Service – Satisfy." While that motto is still a viable formula for success, the challenges of driving sales and revenue growth in a highly competitive and uncertain global market can be daunting.  DuBois' (now DuBois Chemicals) sales leaders soon began to see effectiveness gaps in their organization, including the need for:
>> Structured performance feedback process for managers.
>> Standardized coaching methodology, in order for managers to help under-performing reps.
>> Consistent use of the CRM system for pipeline management of sales teams.
>> Additional opportunities for sales team members, with a focus beyond 90 days.

Aligning All Levels
Doug MacRae, president of the Industrial Division at DuBois Chemicals, had benefited previously from CCI's performance improvement services. CCI showed MacRae the signature high-performance sales management system, Pathways to Growth: 9 Disciplines to Create Sales Breakthroughs in Turbulent Times. This system provides clear steps, along with support and measurement tools, to align sales reps, managers and execs around the strategies that matter most.  After some review, DuBois Chemicals decided that Pathways to Growth was the solution to address their challenges.

A Collaborative Implementation
In February, a team of CCI consultants began meeting with key senior leaders at DuBois Chemicals. The leadership team included MacRae, the sales director and three hand-selected sales managers. Together, the group customized a plan using Pathways to Growth and put it into action.

Over the first week, the number of past-due opportunities dropped significantly, and the sales funnel was cleaner. Within a month, sales leaders were using information generated as a result of the program to forecast more effectively. CRM adoption and best practice skills also increased dramatically.  With more sales managers slated to go through training in the coming months, the future looks extremely bright for DuBois Chemicals.

A Unique Approach
CloudCoaching International (CCI) designs and deploys performance improvement systems for every level within an organization. It helps companies improve sales and service performance by integrating strategy, process, learning and technology. CCI, which has served more than 50 percent of the Fortune 500, has more than 30 years of proven experience.

—In 2013 and 2014, CloudCoaching International won the Best of Elearning! Award for Sales Training.

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Published in Top Stories

In the last five to ten years the way we live, work, and play has massively changed. Thanks to technology we now live our lives in a far more connected way in which we can communicate, collaborate, coordinate and gain access to information in ways that would have been previously unimaginable. Yet we are slow to really harness the power of technology in the corporate learning world. Although there are some notable standouts, we still see e-Learning and webinars that are far from the vision of highly engaging and effective learning experiences.

Martyn Lewis from 3GS will explore the counter-intuitive reasons that are often responsible for less than effective virtual learning, and will share best practices and approaches for architecting powerful virtual learning experiences. He will share the formula for being able to successfully leverage technology to deliver virtual learning programs that are not only engaging but lead to superior business results over the traditional ILT classroom.


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Best Practices from the Learning! 100: Scripps Health

Speaker: Veronica Zaman, Vice President, HR & Learning, Scripps Health

Four-time Learning! 100 winner Scripps Health has the formula to drive performance through learning. No industry has seen the massive change that healthcare has. Yet, Scripps Health leadership has navigated reduced revenues, industry reorganization and critical talent shortages to be one of America's top healthcare organizations.

In this session, Veronica Zaman will share Scripps Health's formula for success which include:

- Developing a learning culture that embraces all team members and patients
- The CEO – Learning Leader connection
- Recruiting, developing and retaining talent where industry churn is 57% in one year.


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To develop a successful business case, you must consider how it is perceived and how it will impact the greater good of the organization. Who can tell you how your business case is perceived and how it will impact the greater organizational good? No single stakeholder can. In fact, according to CEB (Corporate Executive Board), the average number of individuals involved with today's buying decision is 5.4. This buying team will often have differing agendas.

To understand what business-case success look like, let's first look at what failure looks like.


Failure takes place when the business case:

>> is not in line with strategic business objectives;

>> lacks recognition of what is important to the CEO and CFO;

>> requests spending without financial benefit projections; and/or

>> uses HR and learning industry terminology that is a "different language."

These failures all have one thing in common: They all relate to an L&D-driven agenda and not a business-driven agenda. To develop a successful business case, you must consider how it is perceived and how it will impact the greater good of the organization.
Who can tell you how your business case is perceived and how it will impact the greater organizational good? No single stakeholder can. In fact, according to CEB (Corporate Executive Board), the average number of individuals involved with today's buying decision is 5.4. This buying team will often have differing agendas. That means that in order to get a Cloud-based learning business case approved, you'll need to identify each of the buying team stakeholders and then secure their support by tailoring it to their specific priorities. Skipping or not fully ad¬dressing a stage will weaken a business case and reduce your approval probability.


>> Identify the business opportunity or problem to be solved.

>> Create a succinct description of what your proposal will deliver.

>> The objectives should help your organization reach its overall goals and be aligned with the priorities of senior management.

>> An example may be "reduce operating expenses" or "increase talent capability.

>> Develop an opportunity statement.

>> This describes the benefits of solving the problem or seizing the opportunity.

>> For example, "Reduce HR budget and expand talent development to more employees."


>> Ask those closest to the issue for their ideas on possible alternatives.

>> Research case studies of those inside and outside your field that have faced similar challenges and solved them.

>> Collect information about each alternative.

>> The goal is to weigh alternatives against one another in financial terms, intangible benefits and risk level.

>> For the financial terms, a payback period and pro-forma ROI are often used to compare.

>> Payback period illustrates how long it will take to recover initial investment.

>> ROI shows the monetary impact your investment is predicted to yield.


>> After analyzing the alternatives, you will prepare the written business case.

>> The template you use to lay out your business case should have a simple and sound structure:

1) Executive Summary;

2) Current Situation;

3) Analysis, Recommendtion;

4) Conclusion.


>> During this stage you "sell" your recommendations.

>> Hone your persuasion and influencing skills.

>> Rehearse with an informed, invested colleague.

>> Plan the forum and format with care.

>> Select the time, place and approach that suits the stakeholders best.

>> Keep your presentation focused and concise. Avoid going into unnecessary detail.

>> Be prepared to deal with questions that may arise.

>> Have you ever implemented a similar recommendation?

>> What else might be needed that is not articulated in the business case?

>> What assumptions have you made that your stakeholder may disagree with? (Tip: Determining shared goals will help stakeholders come to a stronger, more unified and supported stance.)



Published in Top Stories

Covering a variety of subjects from cyber security to a slave's escape to freedom, to a synthetic biology game, this year's Serious Games Showcase & Challenge (SGS&C) winners were announced at the annual Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference (I/ITSEC) in Orlando, Fla.

2014 Serious Games Showcase & Challenge category winners are:

>> People's Choice and Best Mobile Serious Game: "Eagle Eye" by U.S. Army's PdM Ground Maneuver
>> Best Industry Developed Serious Game: "Info Sentinel – Travel Security" by MAVI Interactive
>> Best Government Developed Serious Game: "Strike Group Defender" by Office of Naval Research PMR51
>> Best Student Developed Serious Game: "Cyber Heist" by University of Utah (Jake Muehle, A.J. Dimick, Chris Rawson and Vaibhav Bhalerao)
>> Students' Choice: "The Underground Railroad" by Muzzy Lane Software for National Geographic
>> Special Emphasis Award – "Use of Social Media: Nanocrafter" by the University of Washington's Center for Game Science

—More info:

Published in Latest News
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