Extended enterprise learning is defined as training all “non-employees” associated with an organization - essentially all the individuals who play a key role in the success of a company but aren’t on the direct payroll.  A few examples of these groups include distributors, dealers, resellers, partners or agents. These groups are critical to the success of an organization helping the company drive revenue and accelerate growth. Companies often struggle to effectively deliver timely, engaging learning to these groups.

Challenges with extended enterprise learning include the production of the online training courses, the ability to distribute them to relevant audiences efficiently, and access to immediate tracking and performance so you can gauge the expertise of the channel. Sales leaders, product managers, educators and trainers need to create interactive learning experiences and courses easily, and in one platform or technology. Third-party authoring tools, decentralized technologies and development overhead lead to slow delivery of information prior to and during product launches, and ultimately miss profit opportunities.

Providing your extended enterprise learners with a centralized location to engage with your brand and learn the latest product information is a clear benefit. Increased profits, reduced time to market and decreased costs can be measured as a result of the delivery of timely learning programs. Since the distribution of information can be accomplished quickly your organization can continue to reap the benefits of the training content far after it’s been authored.

The Thought Industries platform focuses on four key areas proven to elevate the power of your extended enterprise efforts:

  • Powerful Native Authoring – Built-in authoring tools mean you can create mobile-responsive interactions without the need for third-party authoring software.  You can make updates in minutes and leverage assets such as text, video, slides, images and audio to build training programs your audience will love.  Not only that, but you can put the authoring directly in the hands of your SMEs no matter where they are located.
  • Mobile Optimized Learning and Training Experiences – Lets face it, extended enterprise learners are busy with their full time jobs. They need to learn on-the-go from their tablets, mobile phones and laptops.  Anything you create in the Thought Industries platform is immediately mobile optimized.
  • Cloud Hosted – Yearly release cycles, software installs and licenses are a thing of the past. With modern cloud-based platforms the technology is immediate and product enhancements continuous so you never have to wait to take advantage of new feature releases. 
  • Seamless Data Integrations – Every business large or small have CRMs, HCMs and TMS systems.  These systems need to be immediately aware and updated from your training platform. Track learner milestones, events and progress seamlessly without ever having to download a report.  Webhooks, APIs and SFTP features will securely communicate with your enterprise technologies.


At Thought Industries, our Learning Business Platform(TM) helps our clients solve these exact challenges. Everything from authoring online learning experiences to managing users is consolidated under one roof.  Without coding or development, organizations can get to market quickly and distribute timely information from one location to their audiences.

Extended enterprise learning can be an engaging and educational experience for the end user, but it’s only as good as the technology it’s built on. For companies looking to increase profit margins, get to market quicker and fully engage their external networks, be sure you are leveraging the latest tools and technologies in order to maximize the value of your channel.

For more information about Thought Industries and our Learning Business Platform(TM), feel free to reach out to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or request your personalized demo here.

Stephen Newman is the Director of Marketing at Thought Industries, a cloud-based provider of online learning technology for enterprise organizations. Learn more at www.thoughtindustries.com.



Published in Ideas

Companies are spending tens of billions of dollars globally on leadership-training programs each year, but that money often is wasted because “the training is not geared to drive business results,” according to a recent survey by Boston Consulting Group (BCG).

The BCG survey finds business leadership training and talent development often overlook frontline leaders who create value for customers, and the training employees receive often does not have a meaningful impact on business results. Amy Fox, president, founder and CEO of Accelerated Business Results, offers three tips to make training more meaningful, engaging, and easy to access for managers and employees:

1) Make Training an Ongoing Part of Company Culture – Focusing on a one-off event without thorough follow-up, coaching and reinforcement is a recipe for failure. Successful training programs inform managers what they need to do over time to make it successful.

2) Measure Success Based on Business Results – It’s not enough to measure success based on inputs such as days in training or satisfaction with the program. Effective training includes ongoing assessment and evaluation so managers can measure the capabilities employees develop and the results they achieve.

3) Offer Opportunities for Self-Directed, Bite-Sized Learning – Rather than offering event-based training with follow-up as an afterthought, more companies are offering employees opportunities to learn skills on the job through self-directed learning. Micro-learning through mobile apps and other online tools can help.

“With Millennial employees making up an ever-increasing percent of the workforce, more and more companies are finding the old death by PowerPoint training just doesn’t cut it anymore,” says Fox. “More companies are opting for new, on-demand, interactive approaches to training in the form of micro-learning — delivering content in small, specific bursts of information that put employees in control of what they’re learning.”

—More info: www.AcceleratedBR.com.
Published in Top Stories



Innovation and growth are who we are. Our industry continues to expand, creating new markets. We’ve embraced America’s burgeoning start-up economy. We’re touching almost every part of consumer’s lives.

Innovative technology holds the promise to empower each of us. Our industry is literally changing the world, solving some of our most complex challenges and improving lives across the globe.

Billions of intelligent products and services are now woven into the fabric of our daily lives. They connect each other. And these products and services also, more importantly, connect us to each other. Connected devices that are constantly learning and discovering new ways of doing everything, and they are improving how we live. They’re creating a new era where intelligence and data are the new currencies.

It’s a new world of choice. New delivery models actually save resources in many different ways.


In 2016, more than 25 companies will be in our drone marketplace, up 208 percent over last year. And we estimate that over 400,000 drones were sold in the U.S. this past holiday season. Think about lives in remote villages that are difficult to reach with medicine; they’re not getting it through drones. We’re also talking about getting products to homes, first to rural areas but eventually even to cities where rooftop-to-rooftop deliveries will become a reality, relieving traffic congestion below. And think about if your child gets lost in a forest: Don’t you want a search-and-rescue drone looking for your child? It’s so much efficient and effective than thousands of volunteers combing the forest. Or in disaster relief: Needed supplies can be brought to remote areas with drones.

But there’s also economic issues: changing jobs and how we do things. Think about wedding photographers, think about farmers analyzing their crops, think about inspecting bridges, or even real-estate agents trying to show a different vision of where a home is by capturing an aerial shot.


[It] will totally change how we get things. When the space station astronauts broke a tool recently, it would have taken three months to have a new tool shipped to them. Instead, they used a 3-D printer and got it replaced in hours. 3-D printers can also make prosthetic limbs. And doctors are increasingly printing 3-D surgical models like kidneys, which allow them to practice before they do actual surgery. And in disaster areas, we’re also starting engineers putting together 3-D emergency shelters. Of course, in business, 3-D printing allows us to go to market so much quicker with rapid prototyping.


Another new delivery model, which will be huge, are self-driving or autonomous cars. The potential applications include door-to-door food delivery, carpool support. About 30,000 Americans lose their lives each year because of car accidents. Most of that will go away. It will not only save lives, but driverless cars will improve lives for seniors, people with disabilities, and even children. It will reduce accidents and congestion; it will increase safety, make us more efficient and give us time we didn’t have before. Indeed, autonomous, electric and connected cars are a driving force of innovation. They will change our entire concept of mobility.


All of this is part of a bigger transition affecting our economy, a rapid growth of the sharing economy. The sharing economy creates jobs and influences the overall economy. The Wall Street Journal calls the sharing economy “a green shoot in a postindustrial age.” Sharing is green, but it also enhances consumer choice, lowers barriers to entrepreneurship, and increases the uses of capital. In 2014, access to affordable transportation brought in $156 million to local establishments in just two cities, San Francisco and L.A. Now, anyone can be an entrepreneur by offering under-used resources, from parked cars and spare bedrooms to specific skills and everyday chores. People can supplement their fulltime jobs with extra work with companies like Air B&B and Uber. [These companies] also bring services that are critical to areas not served by public transportation of people that can’t drive. With these services, people can visit, live and commute to areas outside of those served by existing hotels, taxis and public transportation — and they also save lives. Study after study has proven that ride-sharing services reduce the risk of drunk driving. MADD recently reported that alcohol-related crashes fell by 60 incidents per month for drivers under 30 in California since its ridesharing service began.


What we’re up against is old rules that impede innovation and block a safer world — a world of competition and choice. New entrants are important to our economy. They create jobs; they improve lives. And innovation, of course, changes everything. [New] products can solve realworld problems. They make us healthier, they improve our well-being, and wearable devices and smartphone apps actually change our behavior. Already, one out of 10 Americans is wearing a fitness tracker. By harnessing and sorting individual data, health care can be more personalized, democratized, and much more effective. Plus, technology can identify early-onset diseases, offer preventive health benefits, assist and manage chronic conditions, and provide more effective remote care of loved ones. We need technology to help take care of our aging society. Tech makes the world a healthier place for everyone, even those who can’t access or afford basic medical care. Sensors and smart apps combined together help combat cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer’s.

Facial recognition, voice analysis, facial micro-cue technology and stress detectors are all coming together to make the world safer. Of course, we have to balance them against privacy concerns.

What are the billions of interconnected devices through the Internet doing? We’re saving energy: Real-time data from thermostats are already helping to avoid brown-outs and black-outs. In health care, there’s analysis and correlation of massive data that will affect how we treat people generally and individually. It’ll make us healthier.

Weather. Cars are going to be able to collect information on their temperature, whether their windshield wipers are moving, whether they just hit a pothole, even when they pass a car accident — and they’ll be immediately able to send that information to the cars behind them, thereby avoiding accidents, skidding, all sorts of things. First responders can come to the scene and immediately know the occupants, whether they are alive and what their condition is. Does this violate privacy? No, this helps save lives.

Even in aircraft safety, engine turbine blades send data to a server that analyzes their integrity, and of course in natural disasters, we learn so much immediately. This is the power of technology. This is the power of innovation. Of course there are going to be roadblocks and naysayers. There are those will see how bad guys use technology to threaten our security and privacy. We can never fully guarantee that the products and services our industries produce won’t be used for evil.

But I believe that technology can help us fight back and help protect us. Technology can connect us across borders, leading to a better understanding of what we have in common, not what divides us. So we can continue to pursue public policies that protect our safety and fundamental rights while allowing all these green shoots of innovation to thrive.

We need government to let the marketplace work, instead of trying to force its own rules that hamper entrepreneurs and innovation, whether it’s in health care, digital health, agriculture, communication, or even the ability to educate more broadly. The age of intelligence and data is going to allow us to improve lives on a scale that we have not seen before. [New] products not only hold the promise of making our lives better, they hold the promise of making our whole world better for us, our children and our children’s children. We have a bright future in front of us.

— Gary Shapiro is president and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), formerly the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA). Data in this article can be found at cta.tech/salesandforecasts. The Consumer Technology Association produces annual consumer electronics studies that are available on its website. Watch Shapiro’s speech: https://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=X9BmTsLWaEs

Published in Top Stories


The consumerization of learning is being driven by the technology in the hands of consumers. At the 2016 Consumer Technology Show (formerly CES), Dr. Shawn DuBravac, chief economist of CTA, presented the state of the consumer technology industry and the trends to watch.

The future is about digits and data. Today, 88 percent of consumers have a computer in the home. There are 330 million cellphone subscribers in the U.S.A. We are now entering the “Second Digital Decade” focused on ambient sensing and aggregated learning. We are moving to a focus on meaningful data versus the possibilities. Today, 51 percent of technology buys are in cellphones, televisions and personal computers. Next year, these categories will account for less than 50 percent due to growth of the emerging categories. This is documented by the size of Eureka Park, the Innovation Center of CTS ’16, which grew from 29 exhibitors to 500 in 2016.

The Second Digital Decade is driven by three key trends.


The conversion of analog data to digital data allows us to count steps, calories, etc., and place it within context. For example, WeMo sensors are placed in the diapers of newborn infants in hospitals to monitor infant temperature, movement and breathing rates linked via Bluetooth via their onesies garments. Smartphones are now hub devices with microphones for monitoring a home’s security. A Whirlpool dishwasher, linked via a nest thermostat, can be turned on and off. We are past the era of siloed apps and now entering the era of intelligent systems: the interaction of networked devices.

This is all possible due to the lower cost of sensing technology. It once cost $7 per axis per motion; now it is less than 50 cents. Imagine hosting garments with biosensing capabilities for railroad engineers that will alert when fatigue sets in. Or alcohol toxicity levels of security personnel, truck drivers, health-care workers or peace officers.

The sensing of emotional responses is also possible via video facial reactions and bio-sensing. We see some of this having positive effects on HR video recruiting. Video facial reactions can measure emotional reactions to real-time interviewing, and they can even estimate age. Marketers are particularly interested, as biosensing allows them to collect emotional response to content, ads, polls, etc. and change triggers based upon interactions. Imagine presenting training content and — via facial scanning — knowing what resonates with learners, and what does not in real time.


Most of us experience aggregated learning when we use Netflix. It consists of predictive and customized experiences based upon our personal actions. By giving more access to our environments, sensors can record time of day, biorhythms, moods, etc., and constantly collect information — present or absent. An example of aggregated learning is the word error rate from automation, which has dropped to 5 percent, accelerating our voice-to-text improvement over the last decade. Soon, we will voice-activate many text-based commands.

We are changing our interactions as well. Systems are now sharing information across devices. Our cellphones share information with the entire system, like meeting calendars across devices, CRM, LMS, etc. Another system-sharing example includes driverless cars, whereby the car ahead of you can report road conditions to other vehicles on the road, altering course automatically and without the driver’s intervention. No more skidding off the road from black ice or rear-ending vehicles ahead of you from sudden stops. GM’s recent investment in Lyft is as much about the technology as passenger fares. By 2020, self-driving cars will number 1 million. And by 2025, half of all cars will be autonomous. Imagine the many repetitive actions trainers take in preparation of a new hire and how shared intelligent systems could provide literal on-the-job training on talent’s first day of employment.


Have you used Google Cardboard yet? You will never shop for cruises the same way again. With virtual reality (VR), we can walk through the ship before buying a cabin or itinerary. It is the marketers’ next advertising and entertainment platform. More than 1 million Cardboard units have been sold. Meanwhile, Oculus pre-order was launched in January and sold out within hours. Other vendors like HTC and Sony are featuring eyewear, games and 360-degree cameras for use in virtual reality. Today, companies like WEVR and Samsung host and share VR content and public channels. VR is moving away from animation into reality with the 360-camera. Think GoPro 360 degrees in the learning environment. The possibilities and experiences are endless.

Wearables, drones and 3-D printers round out the nascent technology categories. Wearables were just under a $5 billion industry in 2015. Think sensing for clothing. Wearables are a big hit in the fitness and health industries, where how one exercises or completes a particular task can be determined to reach target or not. Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer attributes Stryker, a VR training device, for improvement of his footwork and throwing motion. Industrial applications for safety training are top-of-mind for wearable technology.

Drones will reach 2.9 million units sold in 2016. Dragonfy and Fleye are brands in fight. Applications include land surveying, security, and intelligent energy utilization. Use cases are expanding daily. Amazon and Facebook are evaluating drones for home delivery alternatives.

3-D printers are the ultimate personalization devices. Schools for K-12 were early users and are expected to reach 152 million units sold, up 38 percent from 2015. 4K video cameras, displays and content streaming are up 400 percent to 12 million units. As high-quality content streaming is delivered to the masses, the cost for enterprise learning drops. 4K viewing offers “better-than-being-there” visual experiences.

–Access this study online at www.cta.org.

Published in Top Stories


Is your company poised to build the next Uber? Have you started imagining how cryptocurrencies could be used to shore up your company’s digital security? Have you considered that the algorithms your company uses might inadvertently be lying to you?

At the end of each year, I apply a framework to surface the most important emerging trends in digital media and emerging technology for the year ahead. It analyzes consumer behavior, micro-economic trends, government policies, market forces, and emerging research within the context of our continually-evolving tech and digital media ecosystem. My colleagues and I use a core set of five attributes to look for emerging patterns: contradictions, infections, oddities, coincidences and inversions. Those attributes help us identify a set of likely trends on the horizon. Ten, we put each trend through what we call The Five Questions:

1) Where/how are people wasting their time?

2) Where/how are people having difficulty with technology?

3) Where/how are people looking for information?

4) Where/how are people stuck?

5) How do people want to be perceived?

The Five Questions help us qualitatively and quantitatively assess whether or not that pattern is actually a trend that will stick in the future. We also pressure-test the ideas borne out of the trends we identify. Current technology offers great opportunity – along with some unusual new challenges – for managers in all industries. Here are six.


Artificially intelligent computers are now capable of deep learning using neural networks, which you can think of as brain-inspired systems capable of translating pixels into English. Toward the end of 2014, Google researchers unveiled a new project that uses neural networks and deep learning to identify multiple elements of a scene without human assistance. Its software “learned” how to think by processing vast quantities of data. For example, deep learning will eventually allow robots to recognize objects they haven’t seen before and navigate to new locations on their own. Deep learning intersects with numerous fields, and it will soon aid in manufacturing, medicine, retail, utilities, and beyond.


SVPAs started entering the market in 2013. At the time, they used semantic and natural language processing; data mined from our calendars, email, and contact lists; and the last few minutes of our behavior to anticipate the next 10 seconds of our thinking. Most of those original apps have now been acquired. Emu was acquired by Google, Donna was acquired by Yahoo, Cue was acquired by Apple…and the list goes on. When it was still active, Emu was a clever stand-in for a personal secretary. It would monitor the conversation and automatically make suggestions as two people texted. For example, if you asked your friend to see a movie, Emu would immediately geolocate both of you, suggest a nearby theater and show films and times, then check your calendars for your availability. It would even display a preview for you to watch. Once it determined the best time for you to meet, it would help you purchase tickets and enter all the data into your calendar. And it did all of this inside a single mobile application.

In the near future, consumers will begin to see SVPA technology baked into their mobile phones. For example, Google is quietly starting to release a new SVPA function for Android users that detects when you’ve parked your car, marks your parking spot for you on a Google map, and helps get you back to it once you’re ready to start driving again. All without you explicitly asking it to do so. Marketers, credit-card companies, banks, local government agencies, political campaigns, and many others can harness SVPAs to both deliver critical information and to better read and understand constituents.


In spite of harsh criticism about its business practices, 2014 was a banner year for Uber. With a $40 billion paper valuation, the simple app connecting drivers to passengers is now worth more than Halliburton Corp., Aetna, General Mills, Delta Airlines, Kraft Foods, and Charles Schwab. Uber’s fast growth is due to lightning-fast consumer adoption, and that’s because Uber does two things very well. First, it monetizes downtime. For professional drivers, Uber is a fast, easy way to find riders. It’s also been a boon for people who’ve lost their jobs, offering them a way to make money when other jobs are hard to find. Second, Uber provides a seamless payment interface. Riders don’t need to carry cash or even a credit card, as the entire transaction is handled via a simple mobile interface. Uber’s success has inspired hundreds of other entrepreneurs who want to emulate the best features of the company.

So expect to see lots more new, Uberish delivery and intermediary businesses, including fast grocery delivery, helicopter rides, portable ATMs, alcohol delivery, inhome massage service, dry cleaning and laundry, iPhone repair, personal shopping, medical marijuana, dog walkers, and onsite car mechanics. Meantime, consumers will respond to one-click transactions that process payments in the background – meaning there’s a great opportunity for established retailers, transportation companies, banks, and others to leverage what’s becoming standard consumer behavior.


In its essence, an algorithm is simply a set of rules or processes that must be followed in order to solve a problem. In the coming year, we will also begin questioning the ethics of how algorithms can be used, and we’ll scrutinize the tendency of some algorithms to go awry. Programmers are adding subjective judgments to algorithms and allowing them to deliver answers. As a result, those in the big data space are increasingly misclassifying objects, data and even people.

Numerous stories exist of algorithms wrongly identifying terrorism suspects at airports. High-frequency trading algorithms once nearly destroyed the stock market. A glitch in Amazon’s algorithm caused the price of one of its products to spike to $26,698,655.93. During the next several months, managers should discuss how to include accountability systems for algorithms.


Ongoing breaches have continued to dismantle the public trust. According to a Pew Internet and Society poll, 91 percent of Americans surveyed either agreed or strongly agree that consumers have lost control of their personal information and data. Whether it’s fear of a third party monitoring our mobile phone activity or concern about the safety of online transactions, people are increasingly concerned about their privacy, and they’re pointing the finger at business, not maleficent hackers.

So now, businesses must work to meaningfully encrypt their data, and they must make a public showing of the measures they’re taking to safeguard personal info. One new area of particular note: digital consent. Lawyers could soon use our personal data against us in court. Fitbit data, processed through a third-party analytics tool, was used in a courtroom late in 2014, around the same time that the FTC began investigating Fitbit’s practice of selling users’ personal data to advertisers. We will see growing demands for digital consent agreements and increased transparency.


The block chain is the transaction database that’s shared by everyone participating in bitcoin’s digital system. It’s how the cryptocurrency promises complete anonymity while using a crowd-regulated public ledger system. Think of the block chain as a sort of distributed consensus system, where no one person controls all the data. Even if Bitcoin itself never really gains traction, block chain technology has enormous promise. For instance, some people argue that a block chain system would have prevented the massive credit card breach at Target. A new company, Blockstream, plans to turn the block chain into a universal platform that can be used for anything requiring signatures or authentication. It would let people participate in “trustless” transactions, where buyers and sellers work with an intermediary like an escrow manager, a trustee, or other middlemen.

In some way, each of these tech trends will affect your business in the coming year. The best way to prepare for coming disruption is to learn as much as you can, discuss implications with others in your company, and then commit to launching small experiments internally to help you see the trends in motion.

— Amy Webb is the founder and CEO of Webbmedia Group, a digital strategy firm that advises an international client base on near-future emerging technologies and digital media trends. She is also a Visiting Neiman Fellow at Harvard University. More info: www.webbmediagroup.com

Published in Top Stories

Eighty percent of the focus on an implementation must be about the business and process.

Questions are swirling today about the value proposition of a learning or talent system. Do these systems provide real value? Do the systems meet the expectations of users? Are the systems helping you do a better job of developing people? The answers can all be found in the alignment of the systems to the true needs of the business.

I was recently speaking at a conference and asking about the implementation of the attendees’ learning and talent systems. One question that I asked received a very telling response. I asked, “When you were about to implement your brand new system, how many of you looked at your business processes, mapped them out and used these processes to guide your implementation?” Less than 1 percent had taken this approach. That led me to a second question, “How many of you are happy with the value your learning or talent system provides for you today?” Only about 5 percent answered that they were happy. This is very typical of what we at Bluewater see in the marketplace today. Most people are not happy with their learning and talent systems, but most are also being guided, incorrectly, by the idea that an implementation should happen quickly and painlessly. No need to map business processes when we can just turn the technology on, right?

For more than 14 years, I have been working with companies to help them assess business needs, select learning and talent systems, implement and even operate these systems. A trend I have noticed while completing more than 400 projects over the last few years, is one simple fact: 80 percent of the focus on an implementation must be about the business and process, with 20 percent of the focus being on the technology. As an industry, we have gotten this wrong for so many years because our focus is on technology. Technology itself does not solve problems; it only enables the user of the technology to solve a problem.

Implementation failures occur fundamentally because of four key factors:

1) Everyone is in too much of a hurry.

2) The business processes in the learning or talent systems are established on the fly.

3) Configuration is not driven by what the business needs, but by what the system can do.

4) And the overall user experience is not considered in the purchase.

That covers about 95 percent of failed implementation issues.

If you have a system today, my recommendation is to fix it rather than replace it. The steps described below can and should be used to help you take a fresh look at your existing implementation, not only for when implementing a new system. As your business is going to change over time, you must proactively and regularly re-align your learning and talent systems with the needs of your business.

Step 1. Getting Started - What can we do to achieve a successful implementation or renewal of a learning or talent system? Start where it all begins: with understanding what drives your business. What are your business drivers? These are not your departmental drivers, but rather the corporate goals and objectives regarding revenue, profitability, enablement of your people, and so on. What keeps the doors open at your company? Tat will provide a huge insight into your business drivers. Document these goals, as you will use them later in the process.

Step 2. Create a Map - Map your training and people development objectives and align them to your business drivers. If you find elements of your training and development organization that do not match up to your business drivers, consider eliminating these elements. Once there is an agreed-upon understanding by all stakeholders and an alignment of your business drivers and training and development objectives, it is time to move onto functionality.

Step 3. Functionality - Functionality and technology must come last. They are enablers of what you are trying to achieve. Technology is not the solution, but it will help you get there. The idea is to put your organization in a position to take advantage of the technology you select. Many organizations skip this step and, while they intuitively understand the needs of the business, there is a gap in the actual knowledge of how to get the technology to do what you need it to do. This is because there is an incomplete understanding of the operating methodology required by the business.


Increasingly, I am seeing the business drive requests for talent. These are not the simple job requisitions of years past. Rather, they are deeper requests that understand the value of talent in the business. I have spoken with numerous CEOs who are concerned about the future of talent within their business and their company’s inability to identify who has the skills necessary to drive the business forward. Therefore, the work you do with learning and talent systems is crucial to helping the business understand what talent is available, along with current and future talent gaps and opportunities. This is no longer just about developing leaders. It is about enabling your company’s people for long-term success. Done right, the use of learning and talent systems can finally provide information that will help business leaders make decisions about the future.

Note where I started. It is all about understanding the business and mapping processes to inform how the business needs to interact with your new or renewed learning and talent system, today and in the future.


Reviewing a sample of the organizations we work with, the LMS-only purchase of the past is becoming rare for companies who are doing an in-depth review of business drivers, processes and development needs. Of more than 200 projects we worked on just last year, 76 percent were focused on learning, development and talent management. Of the numerous selection projects we worked on, only the extended-enterprise projects were LMS-only. LMS purchases are still the number one learning and talent system purchase, but now they are combined with performance, succession, recruiting, workforce management, compensation and even HRIS. This is occurring because the need for data in managing talent and the development of people is becoming increasingly important, and the LMS-only approach is limiting. These organizations saw the need to align not only learning and development, but also the ability to measure performance, implement career paths, measure competencies, and identify succession plans for the 90 percent of the organization who are not executives. The HR, learning and development organizations and others found that mapping the needs of the business first revealed a bigger role that their organization could play in the bigger business.

Of the 76 percent of projects that were learning and talent focused, the majority used learning, performance and succession tools together to achieve objectives. But do not focus on performance reviews only, since the performance component of a talent system includes development plans, goals, competency mapping and skills analysis. The idea of including components of a talent system with learning is to provide tools to help analyze gaps in talent against the needs of the business while developing knowledge of where development really needs to happen. Finally, the use of these tools can also provide a degree of personalization and personalized learning.


Your roadmap for implementation and the overall operating plan must be tied together. There are seven key elements that should be the focus of your planning. Each of these elements will help you focus on specific areas where we see great success or failure.

Let’s start with the most important item for creating a proper working environment and that is user experience. If you get the user experience right then the rest of the system flows. If the user experience is wrong, then it does not matter what you have in your system. User experience extends not only to the user interface but also to the user workflow.

Second is content. Content is king. Without great content, the system will not drive any business impact.

Third is all about people. You must establish proper governance of the system, a proper approach to change management and, finally, an administration plan. Do not overlook the needs of your people.

The fourth item is technology. Keep it simple, as it will become a foundation of your operating environment.

Fifth: map all business processes and continually update these processes over time. Know how your business operates in detail.

Sixth, create a data strategy. Know what data you need in your system, what data operates your system, and what data you need out of your system.

Finally, it is all about reporting. I am not sure that I would ever purchase a learning or talent system if I were not 100 percent sure it would provide the reports I need to inform my business. The data we collect in the learning and talent system can transform a business. But that data is only effective if we can report on it.

In this diagram, you see all seven categories their impact on each other. If one area is not addressed, then the wheel will fall apart. If all are addressed, then the wheel will turn properly and drive the business of your organization.

We began with questions about whether a learning or talent system truly offers value, if a system can meet the expectations of the user, and can it help you better develop people. As we see, the answer to all of these questions is not so much about the system, but rather about how the system and the use of the system is aligned — and kept aligned — with the evolving objectives of the business as a whole. Proper selection, implementation or renewal of your system is a result of proper planning. Do the work required, spend a little extra time, get to know your business and the results will speak for themselves.

— Chris Bond, president and CEO of Bluewater, has been transforming the learning and talent management felds through his articles, speaking engagements and consulting services for almost 15 years. More info: www. bluewaterlearning.com.

Published in Top Stories

This may come as a surprise to the new generation of learners, but not all high-profile, technical and/or well-paying careers require a college education.

Of course, a bachelor’s diploma has historically made a rather large difference in wages. In 2014, the Economic Policy Institute found that college graduates earned 98 percent more per hour than non-college grads.

But there’s a price. First and foremost, it’s not all that unusual for a college graduate to carry a debt of $100,000 or more into his or her first job search. There’s another little-considered factor: while the college student spends four years or more to earn the diploma, another person might enter the workplace immediately out of high school and gain valuable real-world experience while the aforementioned college student is focused entirely on earning the best grades possible in the academic world.

There’s no denying that when you have zero experience, a degree is going to help you have a little more clout. Still, that doesn’t mean every young job-seeker needs a degree. In many cases, what might be more important are (1) ambition and (2) a creative way to genuinely build a personal brand.

Let’s face it, 18-year-olds might have life plans, but they also might lack the knowledge of how to best attain their life goals. It that point, college may be the most obvious option — but it’s not the only one.

“For many traditional students, college is a time to ‘figure it all out,” wrote Pratik Dholakiya, co-founder of E2M and MoveoApps in a recent edition of Entrepreneur magazine. “Some incredible social learning and personal growth takes place here — but that will likely be true at this age no matter what. And if you make an effort to challenge yourself, delve into new circles and simply ‘get out there?’ It’s a guarantee.”

Here’s the option to a college education.

1) Identify what you love. It’s often what you’re good at.

2) Identify how to become more proficient at it than the people who will ultimately become your competitors.

3) Start right away to identify the possible markets in which you will be competing, and then investigate and choose the entry-level position that will give you the most experience as you work toward your goal.

“You likely already know if your ideal career path — even if it’s fuzzy — requires a degree or not,” notes Dholakiya. “Many times, it doesn’t. If that’s the case, why spend those four or more precious years getting into debt, taking courses you don’t need and being stagnant?”

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Many learning and training professionals are, by now, familiar with the term “MOOC,” but the truth of the matter is that MOOC is only the beginning when classifying technology-friendly modes of learning and training.

MOOC, of course, stands for Massive Open Online Course. The importance of this course is that it is open to a lot of people — students or employees — at the same time. MOOCs represent a distance-based approach to e-learning wherein many learners may participate in a collaborative and interactive fashion. Course contents are distributed using a Web platform under a per-course or subscription model. The unique features of MOOCs include mass participation, social collaborations, interactive forums, and open-ended outcomes. MOOC adoption employs various technologies and solutions including Big Data, analytics, gamification and Cloud.

There are a few key market factors to consider with MOOCs, including low-cost certification, leveraging various technologies (data; smartphone, tablet and wearable device proliferation; and flexible learning experience), cost reductions for corporate training and others. Arguably, one of the main growth drivers of today's MOOC industry is cost reduction for learning and development (L&D) programs at major corporations.

Similarly, COOC stands for Corporate Open Online Course, which is self-explanatory. They’re MOOCs for businesses large and small.

SPOC stands for Small Private Open or Online Course. Contrary to MOOC and COOC, the aim of a SPOC is to offer a small group of people a tailor-made course. University of California Berkeley Prof. Armando Fox coined the word in 2013 to refer to a localized instance of a MOOC course that was in use in a business-to-business context.

SPOCs support blended learning and flipped classroom learning, which variously combine online resources and technology with personal engagement between faculty and students. Early research results point to improved learning and student outcomes using such approaches, as pointed out by Will Oremus in a Slate magazine article. They can include video lectures, assessments (with immediate feedback), interactive labs (with immediate feedback) and discussion forums such as those used in MOOCs.

Reiterating, the target audiences for these three online courses are very broad: individuals, students and workers enrolled by their companies. Their main advantage is that learners can register just by clicking online. They can train, whenever they want to from home, and they no longer have to go out. A lot of people who are at work all day are now able to train this way in the evenings.

Basically, the aim of all three — MOOCs, COOCs and SPOCs — is to offer free training. When you produce a video for an online course, there is no difference in the cost whether it is watched by one person or thousands.
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Every day new learning technologies and practices are born. Which are fads and what have staying power?

Join Catherine Upton in this session when she reveals the results of the E-learning User Trends Study.  What drives investment in learning and development. Which tools are learning leaders investing in and why?

Catherine will also be joined by Becky Sterling who will discuss several e-learning trends, predictions and practices.  Share insights with Becky who is on the front lines of development and implementations. Bring your questions and challenges to share and discuss: The role of e-Learning in the consumerized world, Learner-directed learning and enablement, Evolution of learning ecosystems, and how to leverage technologies to create the engaged workplace.


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As the New Year is well under way, Americans are making strides to make their resolutions a reality, and it turns out that many plan on changing jobs in 2016. Of the working Americans who report that they will definitely change jobs, 50% are Millennials. The findings are part of the “2016 Industry & Productivity Perspectives Report” from business operating system Bolste, which commissioned accredited research firm YouGov to poll the views of a representative sample of 2,766 American adults.

Key findings from the 2016 Industry & Productivity Perspectives Report include:

>> 28% of working adults will contemplate changing jobs in 2016, with 15% speculatively looking for new opportunities.

>> 26% of working Americans are unhappy, unmotivated, not stimulated, bored and stifled, or indifferent with their current job.

>> American employees most commonly feel their employers don’t value their ideas (20%) and independent working skills (21%).

>> 22% of working professionals say half or more of the work emails they receive are irrelevant to them.

“Employee turnover is a huge strain on businesses and workers alike so it’s important to address the issue of workplace dissatisfaction. To remain competitive on the world stage, American business leaders need a way to evaluate their employees’ ideas, give proper feedback and equip their teams with tools and skills to manage projects efficiently,” says Leif Hartwig, CEO of Bolste.

Distracting Email

Email has been the default means of workplace communication for several decades, but overflowing inboxes are a cause of frustration for employees. More than one-fifth of working professionals say half or more of the work emails they receive are irrelevant to them. Additionally, 11% say as much as 75% or more of their inbox is filled with irrelevant emails. The problem with email is especially visible for those who work in the education sector, as 35% report that half or more of email received is irrelevant.

While face time is an important aspect of business and work, 14% of American workers feel that new employees at their company are faced with many pointless meetings to get them up to speed. Meanwhile, 21% say that their employers provide a cookie-cutter type manual for new employees, with 22% reporting that new hires are left to figure out things on their own.

 “We’re seeing a trend away from email and outdated, time-consuming workplace technology for technology’s sake. We will see more software built around helping professionals seamlessly collaborate and ultimately do their jobs better,” adds Hartwig. “Businesses have to respond to workplace shifts and be more flexible to meet the specific needs of their most valuable assets—their employees.”

—More info: www.bolste.com


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