4 Key Market Trends Disrupting Learning and Development, and Driving Customer Expectations
For any business, being customer-centric is not just a successful strategy, but also an expectation from the customers the business serves. This is also true in the IT industry, where developing a learner-centric training experience is crucial to a company’s ability to achieve its short- and long-term goals. “Learner-centric” applies not just to the training content, but to the learners’ entire end-to-end experience throughout their learning lifecycles. But compared to just a few years ago, these expectations have evolved rapidly and the confluence of 4 key factors has created virtually a perfect storm that is disrupting the learning and development industry today.
1. Digital Transformation
The rapid pace of digital transformation and the need to innovate have resulted in the creation of new job roles that need new skills, and IT leaders clearly recognize its impact on skills development requirements for their workforce. Data shows that closing the skills gaps is the #1 focus for business leaders, up 32% YoY in 20194.
While IT education services is expected to keep up with traditional IT services (Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 4% through 20231), the biggest opportunity is in the areas focused on digital transformation (CAGR of >8% through 20231). The overall market growth in IT is being fueled by the increasing demand for services, up from 39% in 2009 to 57% in 20192, especially in the deployment and support of cloud, big data and other emerging technologies, with the accompanying need for skills to drive transformation success.
As companies undergo digital transformation, IT professionals are also looking to training and certifications to stay competitive. In a recent industry survey3 conducted by Dell Technologies Education Services, 85% of respondents identified adoption of new technology and tools as the top driver for seeking technical training and certification, closely followed by 82% quoting the need to bridge skills gaps / develop new skills to stay competitive. Accelerating this transformation is the recent global situation created by COVID-19, forcing the pace of change, almost in real time, to find innovative ways to keep connected and adapt to the new business climate.
2. Increasing Investments in Skills Development
The trend of increasing budgets for learning and development, up from 27% in 2017 to 43% in 20194, reflects the importance organizations are placing on investing in their employees’ skills development.
Organizations are realizing the value of automation and intelligent solutions to regain human bandwidth that can be reinvested in innovation, to enhance business processes and deliver value to their customers. While demand for new skills in the market is certainly on the rise, organizations are also seeing great advantages in job redesign and reskilling of their employee pool, to decrease costs, shorten ramp-up, and reduce time-to-market. Data shows that internal reskilling is 1/6th the cost of a new hire, with over 75% respondents in a Deloitte survey leaning towards training and reskilling rather than hiring5. As businesses increase their training spend, they seek to partner more closely with vendors of quality training that satisfies demands for knowledge of new technologies, job realignments, and redesigned skill sets, thereby raising the bar for training providers.
3. Emerging Learning Experiences Driven by Digitalization
At the same time, learning experiences are evolving constantly, fueled by new and emerging learning technologies, enabling the creation of seamless ecosystems, accessible at the point of need. This has a huge impact on the overall L&D strategy – from infrastructure and tools through content to delivery, and the role of data and intelligent solutions in shaping customer experiences.
Market surveys show that on average, organizations use 19 different learning technologies, which makes creating a seamless learning experience a huge challenge, yet a business imperative. As organizations transform, the emphasis is shifting from traditional content creation and delivery to enablement technologies that connect people.
In a 2019 Global Sentiment survey of >5,000 industry professionals, when asked “What do you think will be hot in the workplace L&D next year?”, the top 5 responses were, in descending order of ranking: personalization/adaptive delivery, AI/ML, learning analytics, collaborative/social learning, microlearning. Their stated recipe for success is the ability to analyze and predict learner needs to ensure that education vendors can deliver more personalized learning experiences that influence learner behavior. The bottom line is that L&D vendors need to keep pace with evolving learning technologies and accompanying learner expectations.
4. Learner Preferences and Expectations
Today’s learners expect a seamless experience that is available, accessible and delivers value. If required, they expect the vendor to provide consultative inputs to help define learning needs and follow up by designing and enabling suitable learning journeys. Organizations are expected to provide learning options to their employees that guarantee high levels of training effectiveness for their teams to support immediate transformational and long-term business goals.
In either case, time is the biggest constraint for continual learning. However, with the new capabilities available today at every engagement point, learners expect more visual, untethered, socially influenced and self-driven experiences. They want to access training at the point of need (80% say they like to learn when they need it), in a form that gives them the maximum return for their time commitment (modality ranked last on the list of 5 important criteria when making IT training-related purchase decisions)1.
Dell’s Commitment to Deliver to Learner Expectations
From classroom to online, prescriptive to explorative, synchronous to asynchronous, the key to ensuring training effectiveness lies in enabling our learners to stitch together the right blend of quality, relevant, seamless learning experiences that help achieve their learning goals.
Data-driven experiences that use AI/ML and automation tools to measure, personalize, assess, improve and streamline these journeys can boost volumes in the lead/sales funnel by continually enhancing customer value realization at every engagement point.
From a Dell business perspective, cultivating data-driven learning journeys can provide incredible insights that create immense opportunities to influence customer behavior, with an associated and demonstrable boost in product/technology adoption. As a critical component of a customer-centric Services offering, understanding the genesis and progression of a learning journey as it applies to different personas, then shifting focus from delivering training to delivering value ultimately means delivering positive outcomes for our customers.
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- IDC Market Data, 2019; Technology Skills Survey, 2018
- TSIA, The State of Education Services, 2019
- Dell Technologies Education Services Primary Research, Nov-Dec 2019
- LinkedIn Workplace Learning Report, 2019
- Deloitte Human Capital Trends survey, 2019