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Four Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Technology Investment

In most organizations, learning and development budgets are tight, even when L&D is expected to play a transformational role within the company. Often, success requires maximizing the budget or using existing technology your team already has access to.

Strategy before software

So how can you make the most out of your investments in learning technology? While the right software can prove to be truly transformational, it won’t be effective without a clear learning strategy behind it. Maximizing these platforms comes down to how administrators implement, utilize, and market them to their companies.

To help get you started, we brought three powerhouse L&D teams to LENS 2019, our annual conference, to share their strategies for leveraging learning in highly competitive fields: travel, telecom, and healthcare.

This panel featured Kylie Rasmussen and Richard Rundle of Booking.com, Peter Sheppard of Ericsson, and Darci Hall of Providence St. Joseph Health. Their insights have been summed up as four big ideas for maximizing your technology investment. You can also watch their full presentation at the bottom of this page. 

1. Make it match your mission.

Providence St. Joseph Health is deeply dedicated to their mission. The healthcare nonprofit began in 1859, started by five courageous women who founded the Pacific Northwest’s first permanent hospital. Now Providence St. Joseph Health employs nearly 120,000 caregivers, serving patients across seven states.

The caregivers are the core of Providence St. Joseph Health. When surveys revealed that the caregivers did not feel cared for, the nonprofit decided to overhaul its approach to L&D to better serve its people.

“We talked about implementing Degreed as our promise,” recalled Darci Hall, the Chief Learning Officer at Providence St. Joseph Health. “This promise is to our caregivers, to know them, care for them, help them grow, as they do their patients.” Personalized learning technology gives caregivers unique professional development, so they can keep up with the hallowed work of healing.

Booking.com has a very different mission, but it also drives the company’s technology investments. The travel website started in the 1990s and now has 18,000 employees working across 220 territories. Booking’s mission statement reads, in part, “We are on a mission to make it easier for everyone to experience the world. We promise access to everyone, to all life’s experiences, whenever, whatever, and however.”

The L&D team at Booking.com connected the mission to their own work. “Like traveling, learning is a continuous process of curiosity, exploration, and creating memorable experiences,” explained Richard Rundle, one of Booking’s Digital Learning Specialists. To uphold its mission, Booking.com invested in tools that piqued people’s curiosity and enabled rich learning experiences.

2. Make it easy and enjoyable.

Ericsson makes the systems that make cell phones work. That is a tremendous task considering how the tools are constantly changing. Learning is the key to success in this dynamic industry. Since the work is complex and the scale is huge, Ericsson needed a simple system that makes people want to learn and allows them to do so with autonomy. “Learning made easy, that is what we’re trying to achieve,” said Peter Sheppard, Ericsson’s Head of Global L&D Ecosystem.

“Technology, of course, does not exist for its own sake. It exists to enable that experience for employees. We want to make it easier. We want it to matter. By making it matter, it helps build that elusive learning culture,” Sheppard added. 

Booking.com shares this priority, too. They found that social technologies supported their learning culture. “We’re quite lucky at Booking because we don’t need to worry too much about promoting this culture of learning. We focus on maintaining it,” Richard Rundle reported. “I think that’s really about social interaction.”

“Those conversations happen around the coffee machine but I can also do that on Degreed, where I can maybe follow a Skill Plan. I can leave some comments, some takeaways, or I could even share that bit of content,” said Rundle, focusing on keeping things simple.  

With the right technology, online learning can be more social than chatting around the coffee machine. “It really allows for that social interaction,” Rundle pointed out, ”and that’s one of the biggest things for Degreed that we saw in our organization.”

3. Get strategic about the future.

Healthcare workers are bracing for disruption. “We have folks like Amazon, Warren Buffet, and Chase that think they can do healthcare better,” remarked Darci Hall. She expects that automation will change the industry, too.

Of course, these newcomers don’t have experienced caregivers like Providence St. Joseph Health. The challenge for Hall’s team is to prepare the caregivers to keep up in the fast-changing field. “We’re looking at how to create a more personalized experience,” she declared. “Knowing them, what they’re doing, how they’re doing, what they need, and when they need it. We’re developing personalized learning journeys that will help with that.”

In telecom, for the last few decades, disruption has been constant. Ericsson is showing its employees how to keep up. “We are trying to create a new skills ecosystem,” Peter Sheppard shared, “where people can really recognize their skills gaps, both at an individual level but also at an organizational level.”

Alignment is coded into the core of Ericsson’s strategy, he noted. “To some extent, it comes down to your business case for your technology. We do “line of sight” workshops, where you can see the line of sight from what the business goals are, right through to what the learning requirements are.” This clear connection keeps workers on track.

4. Cultivate your champions.

Even the smartest tools are powerless unless people actually use them. To ensure that the entire organization actually adopts the technology, leading organizations have to invest in their advocates.

Ericsson’s learning team made an important alliance early on. “If there’s one stakeholder that really matters when you’re creating around your technology ecosystem, it’s the IT team,” Sheppard asserted. “We’ve introduced new technologies in very different ways at different times. The ones that have been successful got IT on board from day one.”

For their newest video learning platform, Ericsson gave leadership roles to individuals from IT. The technical team was brought in from the beginning and stayed engaged throughout the development process. When everything was finished, it was the IT leaders — not the L&D team — who presented the platform before Ericsson’s product council. 

The learning team at Booking.com also understood this principle, so they brought key influencers onto their new platform. “We gave early access to a group of people,” said Kylie Rasmussen, another of Booking’s Digital Learning Specialists. “We identified users across the globe and at different levels, and targeted them as learning champions.”

“All of them were already really passionate about learning. They had already developed that learning muscle, and they were already doing it in their day-to-day,” Rasmussen said. “They were talking about the platform, helping their colleagues sign up, using the platform, adding takeaways, sharing content, and joining Groups.”

Invest like the best

Thanks to Booking.com’s learning champions, when other employees logged on, they entered into an ecosystem that was already thriving. Watch the full LENS 2019 Presentation below. 

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