By Wayne Mcculloch and Walter Rogers
We’ve arrived at a turning point in history where new technology is profoundly changing our way of life as well as our methods of manufacturing, distributing, selling and consuming goods and services. The changes brought about by this digital revolution are disrupting the way businesses are organized and the way people work. They are creating a “new normal,” which will be personalized, predictive and connected.
But it’s not really a revolution; it’s more like a rapid evolution. The world is fast becoming social, automated and more specialized than in the past, and a key fac- tor of the evolution is consumerization of learning.
“Consumerization” refers to the people focus of learning applications and databases. In business, if you view your sales force and other employees as consumers, you introduce new possibilities for handling the subjective, unpredictable and even unmanageable human elements that oc-cur every day. With immediate and mobile access, employees can enjoy 24/7 recognition, personal mentoring, ongoing training, rewards and real-time feedback that instantaneously make them more knowledgeable and efficient.
As employees continue to take responsibility for an increasing amount of their own learning, they begin to take more control. This leads to a change in the structure of their work.
This shift is being driven by the dif- ferent ways we consume information — text, email, video, social feeds, printed and digital media. Consider this: the average person consumes an average of 34 gigabytes of information (100,000 words) every single day. For learning organizations, getting the attention of learners, keeping it, and expecting employees to remember anything becomes the ultimate challenge.
“We’re all drowning in information, but many times starving for knowledge, observes Tony Robbins, founder of CCI Global Holdings.
Thus, learning professionals must make learning adaptive and contextual; knowing what an employee needs at any given time to achieve a desired result. In order to be effective, the systems that drive consumerization have to aggressively target workforce engagement by leveraging technologies such as social media, gamification and mobile to deliver a great customer experience.
The Evolution Of Learning
The evolution of learning and education goes back to the caveman. Gestures and (eventually) words were used to pass on knowledge, information, wisdom and culture to succeeding generations.
Our 20th-century education system was designed during the Industrial Revolution. That said, the world of work has changed rapidly, but the way in which we educate people hasn’t kept up.
In the latter half of last century, learning and training evolved into serving the masses, but that didn’t triangulate to wisdom, nor was it serving the workforce. In effect, we’re still training people as if we were in the Industrial Age.
Today, employees are digitally enabled from their elementary-school years. The lines between their work and personal lives have become blurred. They are bringing their own devices and “apps, expecting to use them in the enterprise. They are geographically and culturally diverse, and more work is being done in “social” teams through tools like Salesforce Chatter.
The New Learning Ecosystem
As a profession, we’re now just in test mode of many of these new systems. Some technology has not caught up with the demands of learners who are looking for a more personalized experience. It presents an opportunity for innovation on the tool side, but the people who want to drive that innovation don’t have the technology to support it. The frustration is that we’re still using antiquated tools that are trying to ad- dress a problem that’s evolving faster than the technology supporting it. The majority of LMSs today are addressing the problems of yesterday rather than today.
That’s where consumerization of learning comes in. If you consumerize learning, you teach and mentor employees as individuals. By looking at learning holistically and embracing its consumerization, you have the ability to provide people with the variety, flexibility and mobility they need. You disperse information and advice in an incremental and timely fashion. The newest generation of employees has learned through social means and collaboration. They’re now learning from each other by sharing the learning journey.
When learning is aligned with company goals, the possibilities are endless: from allowing dispersed team members to collaborate more effectively, to tapping into the knowledge of the crowd, to enabling self-organization and doing work more efficiently.
The Learning Journey
We grew up in a very different world with dif-ferent conversations. We now need a shift in the process and technology tools. People can now have one-to-ones and pull in the information and knowledge they need, based on what they’re doing. The learning journey is different for every single person, but the question is how can you actually create that? It’s not overly difficult, given the fact that we have all the knowledge and information. What we have to devise is how to identify the right learning asset, provide it in many different formats, and put it into places that the learner needs it at the point in time it’s relevant. That’s a big shift in thinking about how you design curriculum using the same content.
Today, learning needs to be woven into the fabric of what employees are doing. The process we’re talking about can create some amazing breakthroughs by passing on much more knowledge and wisdom.
Consider this scenario in the sales world. A sales manager might log into an appli- cation that recognizes his or her pipeline target is at 50 percent of the quota. The system might know whether that person is meeting quota, whether he or she has leads that are stacked up in the queue, if he or she has opportunities that are past due the close date, etc. At that point, the application triggers a coaching moment for that individual: learning techniques that can fix gaps, immediate actions and steps to take to rectify the problem.
With the Cloud platforms like Salesforce. com’s Salesforce Platform, combined with CloudCoaching International’s patented KnowledgeNow platform, each employee has his or her own personal tutor. The tech- nology actually gives in-line, in-context coaching about behavioral practices, time management, customer needs, and more. That’s a phenomenal step forward from a personalized learning perspective.
This process includes a great deal of having proactive measures: understanding what piece of knowledge provides the most effect mation as a way to push knowledge to the user when he or she is either in trouble, or is doing a great job (as reinforcement)?
The world is changing. Soon there will be 50 billion connected devices. Behind every device, every app, every product is a customer;. This is the Internet of Customers. That’s why customer- relationship management is more important than ever before. Every company now has an opportunity to connect to customers in entirely new ways through the next generation of devices, apps and products. This creates personalized learning opportunities like never before. The Salesforce1 Platform is the next-generation customer platform for the Internet of Customers. If you combine the CloudCoaching International learning innovations, the consumerization of learning is possible today.
With employees on multiple learning platforms, it’s a nearly impossible task. The challenge is creating that one platform that can embed the information, knowledge and wisdom that we need to impart across all the devices. In other words, creating the proper environment that contains the knowledge and infor-mation that can propel people forward in their lives and their careers.
In this world of connected devices, imagine you’re doing something as simple as drilling a hole. But you’re drilling at the wrong angle, or maybe you’re using the wrong bit. A sensor into the power drill itself can teach you to use a different angle or to insert a different bit. Personalized, contextual learning with a measurable outcome — all from a power tool! This is the future of learning.
With employees on multiple learning platforms, it’s a nearly impossible task. The challenge is unifying all platforms to embed the information, knowledge and wisdom that is accessible across all devices. In other words, creating the proper environment that contains the knowledge and information that can propel people forward in their lives and their careers. Salesforce.com and CloudCoaching International are among the companies that are solving this challenge.
Enter The Cloud
An advantage of using Cloud-based systems is that when the vendor innovates, every single customer gets the update at exactly the same time. It can be huge government department or a five-person company. The platform enables people to take advantage of innovations-instantly.
At CloudCoaching International, our belief is in rapid evolution and doing a lot of testing. Some vendors get stuck in the paralysis/analysis phase; we don’t. We start with proof of concept, then test it rapidly to see what customers’ reactions are. We immediately get many new and great ideas from them. That gives us a basis for a Version One out the door. We do it often and quickly, in lots of scenarios and settings.
We have a lot of very, very creative people models. Forward-thinking companies must take ownership of this challenge, and companies like Salesforce.com and CloudCoaching International are leading the way. Once you understand what the individual employee needs to be successful, then you can create a roadmap about how to get there — and, for the first time, technology is available to realize this. The building of tomorrow’s learning experience — personalized, predictive and connected — is fast approaching. Are you ready?
Wayne McCulloch is senior vice president of Salesforce University, Salesforce.com and Walter Rogers is president and CEO of CloudCoaching International, LLC.