In the plush sun-soaked surroundings of Bonnet Creek, Orlando, we kicked-off Perspectives 19 and what an incredible three days it has been. With over 160 customer speakers, focused Compliance, Leadership, Technology and Developer, Percipio and SumTotal tracks, we heard stories from every industry.
One of the major elements we wanted to bring to our 20th anniversary Perspectives was customer centricity, focused around our two customers – the organization and the learner.
Ron Hovsepian, our Executive Chairman opened the event with a keynote address where he talked through our new strategy, incorporating specialization, simplification, and focus – in all areas of our business. Throughout his talk, as well as mapping our solutions to the learner and the organization, he also spoke about two elements of the solution we solve – the content and the tooling.
We are adding hundreds of hours of new content across our three specializations with a major focus on localized learning to support our global customers. Our commitment to partners has never been stronger, and we announced some key new content partnerships – including WozU, Wintellect, and MITxPro. These partners enable us to deliver depth of learning in new and emerging content areas. You can find out all the exciting details in our recent press release explaining a little more about these unique additions.
The highlight of the speech was Skillsoft Aspire – Ron showed how these new digital learning journeys enable learners to rapidly advance proficiency and careers.
As well as speaking about our off the shelf content, Ron also talked about our commitment to your custom content, and ensure we can host, author and build content for your organizations with hosting on Percipio being delivered in July.
Percipio adoption is climbing all the time, and the platform continues to engage learners with accesses increasing by over 100% and time spent learning increasing by over 50%. The team is focused on delivering integrations with market leading LMS providers, including, of course, SumTotal. We are developing badging which will deliver digital portable credentials for learners, and deep personalization using AI-based neural networks.
Our SumTotal customers told us that the lines between talent and learning are blurring, and we need to provide a solution for both – we call that Talent Development. Another important aspect of our strategy is content agnosticism and we launched universal content support –we have new content partnerships with LinkedIn Learning and Udacity. This month sees the release of 19.1, and with it comes a brand-new onboarding experience, new career pathing, redesigned 9 box matrix, as well as new learner dashboards. This year, SumTotal will deliver extended enterprise solution to support the gig economy, Rest APIs for easier integration and more third-party content.
I was really looking forward to Daniel Pink and he didn’t disappoint. Energetic, real and a fountain of knowledge about when best to make a doctor’s appointment – in the morning – his was one of those presentations you didn’t want to end. It was great to hear why most of us experience the afternoon slump and how we can optimize our time to make better more informed scheduling decisions. His book, When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, is absolutely required reading to ensure you maximize your productivity.
While I did have to attend several meetings, I did manage to catch a few of the breakout sessions. I’m incredibly proud and grateful that so many customers wanted to present and I want to thank each of you for donating your time and energy to share your experience and knowledge with us all.
A highlight for me, as I’ve been working on the launch, was the IBM Watson Talent partnership announcement. The partnership with Skillsoft delivers an AI-powered learning and career development solution. Sunita Navile from IBM (check out the longest job title in history here) and I talked about the exciting new partnership with Trish McFarlane from HR Happy Hour – you can listen to the podcast in May.
The only one I actually cried in was the session about leadership delivered by Olga Yakimakho and Denis Doolan of the Special Olympics. But there was another very special guest star, one of their members with an intellectual disability and had been told, like other people with disabilities, that she was limited in what she could deliver to the world. She is about to graduate, with honors, in Computer Science. The session looked at the importance of creating inclusive leaders, in every organization around the world – not just NGOs.
Jeff Prosise gave a very enlightening overview of how artificial intelligence (AI) allows us to do things in code that we can’t do algorithmically. For example find and identify fraud, spam, or images. He took us on an interactive journey as he demonstrated how organizations like American Express are using AI to detect credit card fraud.
Lori Dixon led us on a thorough journey as she explained how they undertook the massive transformation project of upgrading their SumTotal LMS which affects more than 50,000 employees worldwide, and they did this all in less than five months.
While Ethics training to ensure a safe workplace is a growing trend, the challenge is how to ensure employees feel safe about reporting issues or concerns without fear of reprisals, particularly if the source of their concern is their manager or supervisor. This is where Convercent can help. They offer companies the tools to allow workers to report in a number of ways and to receive training at the point of need. Skillsoft just recently entered a partnership with Convercent, so we’ll be able to extend this incredible capability to all our Compliance customers.
We closed Perspectives with an emotionally-charged panel discussion around Diversity and Inclusion. Heide Abelli was joined on stage by Jennifer Brown, Stacy Gordon, and Su Joun. It was informative, the speakers gave great solid and practical advice for HR and L&D professionals, and ultimately, I think it gave people plenty of food for thought as well as actionable insight. So, I’ll leave you with what they said. D & I is about not just asking people to the dance, asking them to dance but then also playing the kind of music they can dance to.
Tara O’Sullivan is the Chief Marketing Officer at Skillsoft.