Digital technology is transforming just about everything, and fast. Yet just 33% of organizations say their top-level managers understand and support digital initiatives. If you’re not working on transforming your L&D and HR function for the digital age, too, then maybe you should.

The reality is, the world is changing constantly. And according to major startup investor Paul Graham, it creates not just threats, but also huge opportunities – if you recognize the signals in time and adapt appropriately.

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The threats that come with being a chief learning officer (CLO), or working for one, are real. Reality is getting more virtual. Intelligence is getting more artificial. Data is getting bigger. It will take a new breed of chief learning officer that can adequately adjust to meet the needs of today’s workforce. Say hello to the Digital CLO.

The formula for success as a Digital CLO in learning and development (L&D) – which is essentially the algorithm for developing capabilities and driving business performance – is well-known:
Alignment + Efficiency + Effectiveness = Outcomes

That doesn’t mean it’s easy.

Most CLOs struggle to get or stay aligned. Almost 60% of the workforce’s skill sets don’t match changes in their companies’ strategies, goals, markets or business models.

Many CLOs also have a hard time being efficient. As much as 70 cents out of every dollar invested in L&D is wasted on irrelevant, redundant, low quality or unused training.

Most importantly, too many CLOs aren’t actually effective where it counts. Nearly three quarters of CEOs say that a lack of critical expertise is a threat to their businesses’ growth.

Some CLOs, however, are adapting and evolving – even thriving – in the face of all this digital disruption. To find out what the 3 things are that successful CLO’s do differently, join Intel and Degreed for the Digital CLO “playbook” webinar on January 31st. Register for the event here.

The workforce is changing and it’s affecting how we all work every day. It’s also changing the expectations that people have about who they work with, how they work, and where they work. I recently met with a group of Chief Learning Officers (CLOs) and learning leaders to talk about the four trends disrupting the workforce today and how that impacts the way we think about learning in the corporate environment. We uncovered four common trends.

  1. Different generations in the workforce

People have been talking about this for years now, but the reality is that we have many generations working together in the workforce today.  By 2020, 70% of the workforce will be made up of millennials, but in addition, boomers are working into their 70s and 80s.  What does this mean for the workforce and learning?  It means that we are more diverse and have greater opportunity to learn from each other.  As for learning, although it may be true that millennials are digital natives and generally very comfortable with technology, the CLO group I was speaking with agreed that the way people like to learn has less to do with age and more to do with personal comfort level with technology.

Judy Dutton, Senior Director at eBay, shared that there is a large increase of millennials coming into the company. The 32nd most recognized brand in the world according to Interbrand in its annual ranking of Best Global Brands, many don’t know that eBay also does a lot of slick things with technology including big data, machine learning, and Artificial Intelligence (AI).

In 2017, their HR function is focused on new ways to attract top talent, especially millennials, by revamping their intern program and recruiting from more diverse universities. Their learning teams are embracing a new digital and in-person on-boarding experience, and completely rethinking their career development and approach to development.

  1. Rise in digital technology

Technology is changing the way we think about both business and learning.  As I wrote in a previous blog, learning leaders need to be tech savvy and include a digital learning component as part of their overall learning and employee experience strategy.

At eBay, a learning technology manager helps drive the ongoing technology requirements for the global Talent and Organization Development team.  This new role has also become more heavily involved with IT, the office of the CIO, and HR analytics since the learning technology need is increasingly prevalent.  But it’s not just about technology; there has to be learning expertise among each employee too.

These are just two of the four workforce trends that are changing the role of learning leaders. We will visit the remaining two trends, an increasing rate of change and the new relationship between employees and employers, in Part 2 next week.

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Doing more with less has always been one of the hardest things about being a Chief Learning Officer (CLO). “Doing more” has taken on a whole new meaning as CLOs increasingly recognize that learning and career management are critical components of an organization’s employment brand.

But evolving means more than making learning available on demand by upgrading existing content and investing in newer technology. That’s part of it, of course, but the most successful learning leaders are embracing our always-on economy and leaning into the fact that learning happens all the time, all over the place – both with and without the L&D team’s influence. They’re comfortable working in the ambiguity of  “and” – supplying business-led training and empowering self serve learning, leveraging formal and informal, courses and resources.

Most CLOs, however, still have lots of work to do. As McKinsey & Company recently reported, CLOs overwhelmingly think that their organizations’ digital capabilities are too low. 
To better understand what is working – and how – for today’s “Digital CLOs,” Degreed brought over 100 learning and talent executives together at San Francisco’s Dogpatch WineWorks on November 10th.

Here’s what we learned:

  1.    Leverage Digital Tools

Digitization is transforming all aspects of business, including the L&D function. At times it may seem confusing, but we should see this as an opportunity instead of a roadblock. “I’ve got six people, and they’re spread over 19 time zones. Here’s the kicker – I don’t believe we need a bigger team to execute on a really firm strategy. That’s where digitization comes in – I believe that creates the scale we need,” said Sam Haider, Global Head of Talent Development of Atlassian.

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Leveraging new digital tools, organizations can scale while still providing an always-on, continuous learning environment fed not just by content but also by workers and managers.

  1.    Utilize L&D’s New Architecture

Let’s start with a short story.

“So I went to the LMS and looked for Excel and I found a course. It was going to be available to me in two months, and I was like okay, well, maybe two months is too long but if I did wait, what would I find? It was a three-day course and I was thinking crap, I really don’t want to know that much about Excel. I just want to know how to do VLOOKUP… So I went to YouTube and I looked up VLOOKUP and I found a two minute video of exactly what I was trying to do,” shared Tim Quinlan, Director of Digital Platform for Learning at Intel.

Degreed research supports Tim’s anecdote. Just 21 percent of people told us they rely directly on their learning department when they need to learn something new for work, and only 28 percent said they search their employers’ learning management system first.

“The LMS is becoming marginalized” said Josh Bersin. “It’s a compliance system.”

To be fair, we can’t expect a 20+ year old tool that was designed for management, not learning, to meet the needs of learners in 2017. Instead, what we are seeing is an emerging category of learning experience platforms, like Degreed, which are built for the learners, that are augmenting the role of the LMS and other traditional L&D tools.

“It is the age of APIs and it’s clear to see that we don’t need to go with a monolithic architecture of data that feeds different parts of a value chain in one big system,” added Haider.

According to Bersin, this new architecture still includes the LMS as a record keeping system, but the key is a learning system in the center to tie everything together.

  1.    Approach L&D with a consumer mindset

The most common strategy leaders shared at LENS? Embrace design thinking and approach learning as if you were the customer.

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“Design thinking means understanding what your employees are really doing all day at work. Spending time with them, empathizing with them. It’s monitoring. It’s watching. It’s experimenting with things where your employees are and what they’re doing at work and making their work life better. If you’re not doing this, you’re not going to be able to optimize the experience,” said Bersin.

As the people facilitating the learning experiences, it’s important to know their struggles, what they need, what they want from their learning.

“Get involved in the experience. Be the consumer. Don’t think about this from the L&D perspective.  If you think about it from a consumer’s point of view, I think you can do great things in this space,” suggested Quinlan.

As a bonus, if you’re tracking learning, you will be able to generate valuable insight on the value of the experiences, and gauge and determine if they’re meeting the learning needs and curiosity of your teams.

The mission of Degreed remains the same – to make all learning matter – to people as well as to organizations. Degreed LENS was a memorable evening to have so many thought leaders in one room, sharing ideas on how to best support our workforce and succeed in the age of digital transformation.

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Source –  [1] Deloitte University Press, Global Human Capital Trends 2016 – The new organization: different by design, 2016

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