By Liam Butler
As the curtains draw to a close on another year, it’s the opportune time to sit down and take stock of what’s occurred in the learning and development (L&D) industry in the EMEA region over 2015, and anticipate where 2016 will take us. Over the past year, the relentless pace and disruptions in technology have dictated the growth of the L&D market, pushing the industry to continue innovating, growing and evolving, in order to keep up with the ever-changing needs of the workforce.
At Skillsoft, we’ve seen our customers, more so than ever, begin to place learning at the heart of their organisational culture as a means to acquire, engage with and retain top talent. 2015 highlighted the increasing importance of learning as a key driver for the next generation of workers. From millennials to generation z, the growing emphasis on career mobility has meant that employees demand the opportunity to develop their skills so that they can seamlessly work across various teams, rather than be confined to one specific career path.
A trend which we’ve witnessed develop and evolve over the past year has been around the ability of organisations to integrate content and platforms together to make L&D contextually relevant for employees. In addition, the increase in the usage of analytics has meant that businesses have the ability to make better-informed decisions in relation to L&D. Businesses objectives can now be quantified, this means that they can be tied back to the delivery of training and perhaps even more crucially, can be used to illustrate ROI to those sat in the boardroom.
In 2016, we expect to see the consolidation between content and platform continue. L&D professionals need to ensure they do not hamper growth by being overly cautious, instead they need to make sure they stay curious and embrace the way in which the HR industry is evolving. 2016 is going to the year of positive disruptive change as businesses enable themselves to become self-developing organisations and alter the way in which learning is delivery to their workforce.
L&D is quickly moving beyond the traditional ‘push & pull’ method of providing content to any audience. Instead, organisations are looking to empower their workforce. Take for example, online shopping, try imagining an Amazon which doesn’t provide the option to buy books, music and movies based on your personalised past behaviours, purchases and preferences. Exactly the same rules apply to learning. Why shouldn’t employees expect to receive a personalised learning experience from talent management systems?
People now expect to receive a personalised experience in every facet of their lives. HR is no different. Employees expect their needs and aspirations to be met by HR technology. Human capital management needs to ensure that it has the ability to be adaptive and respond to the needs of each individual. Millennials will soon make-up the majority of the workforce, and they expect to have pervasive content that is contextually aware as the bare minimum. The future is here, it’s time to get personal.
As we look ahead to what 2016 will bring, we’ll continue to see the role of big data increase significantly within L&D. The growing importance of intelligent analytics will undoubtedly be an industry game-changer over the next year. We expect to see a huge uptake in businesses turning to intelligent analytics to influence their workforce, and as a result, we’ll also see the growth of self-directed learning begin to take shape.
The use of big data in HR systems will bring a new dimension to the L&D industry. Its ever-expanding capabilities will help organisations ensure that their talent processes complement the ways employees go about their daily work. As the influence of big data increases, we’ll see the entire talent management experience from start to finish become more personalised. HR technology will begin to feel like an invisible tool, tasked with empowering employees to conduct learning, productivity and career growth at their own pace.
I’m looking forward to seeing what will happen in the L&D space in 2016!
Liam Butler is the Vice President of Sales, EMEA at SumTotal, a Skillsoft company.