By Michael Croft
This is a punch line you’re going to love – effective and engaging corporate training. To think of corporate training as Activity Streams offers interesting insights on improving capability and skills gap challenges. Activity Streams are online activities performed by individuals and captured in digital form. A Twitter feed is an example. Facebook’s aggregated news feed also falls under the umbrella. So how is a Twitter feed a model for modern corporate training? It’s a good question, so let’s dig in.
A feed, or stream, pulls information from multiple sources and presents relevant information to you, based on your interests and preferences. These streams can be generated from a wide variety of activities across contexts, locations and devices. Activity Streams in business act in the same way. Business processes resemble Activity Streams, yet, much of corporate training to date has been managed with didactic Learning Management Systems (LMS) separated from business processes. However, there is growing aspiration to map business processes and workflows into customizable, training for employees. This is where Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) fall short. It’s a cyclical process of competency and skill progression that can be measured against bona fide business needs.
Business Process Modeling (BPM) is the analysis of business processes and the mapping of these processes to activities that accomplish the objectives of an organization. When thinking about corporate training as Activity Streams, imagine mapping BPM flows to learning paths. Simply put, we should think about corporate training curriculums as learning paths that resemble business processes and workflows that map appropriate learning tools to points in the flow.
There’s a great opportunity to include Just In Time (JIT) training here as well. JIT training is effective when treated as reflective practice. In other words, training that occurs externally or adjacent to business processes provides contextual relevancy for the learner, while also encouraging reflection. It does this by reinforcing training at just the right point in the flow to maximize skills retention.
Data captured from Activity Streams can be de-identified or anonymized, while maintaining value for specific business workflows and processes that address “skills supply chain” challenges. This may require rethinking how your internal processes can be structured as streams of activities that correlate to training objectives.
When you think about structuring processes in terms of outcomes, both processes and outcomes are often improved. In turn, corporate training is aligned with best practices for operating your business. This advances training efficiency by 1) removing non-critical training components and 2) targeting domain expertise as it relates to your specific business needs.
Training as Activity Streams also encourages a more holistic training architecture. To capture learning moments from an Activity Stream within a business process requires portability and tools. Most learning platforms are architected to manage non-personalized, mass user training delivery in a linear format, and are therefore fundamentally flawed to properly handle agile Activity Streams. We know businesses operate much differently through: competing priorities that shift, agile methods, and hyper-specialization of tasks. A corporate training architecture that supports such a dynamic environment doesn’t look much like a platform, it looks more like an ecosystem of integrable, composable and educational building blocks.
These building blocks are smart tools that take advantage of technology such as IoT, Bots and AI. IoT, or Internet of Things, allows physical integration with digital data streams. For example, a pipe sensor can send temperature and pressure information over the internet. Tools can talk to this sensor and can feed real data into a training simulation. Similar use cases arise with healthcare, hospitality, manufacturing, energy, environment, education and other industry trainings.
Bots are taking on new forms, including virtual assistants and new communication channels. A bot can send messages to other bots and systems, streamlining communication across preferred messaging applications. Artificial Intelligence (AI) uses big data to extrapolate intelligent responses based on specific criterion. Leveraging just a few of these technologies provides a powerful ecosystem that can be harnessed to drive Activity Stream based corporate training for your organization.
This is not aspirational – these technologies and tools exist today. However, they are not being leveraged for corporate training. Using these types of technologies offers “cumulative advantage” over “competitive advantage.” This means you don’t have to displace what you have, but you can increase the quality and effectiveness of your training now by successive and timely additions.
Keep what you know but evolve with an Activity Stream approach. You may find over time you can begin to displace your traditional corporate training methods, and your bottom line will thank you for it.
Michael D. Croft is a serial entrepreneur who bootstrapped a multimillion-dollar software company before funding and launching his current company, Volute, a new digital ecosystem for education. Prior to starting his first company, Croft was a software developer and architect for 12 years, holding multiple professional certifications and a vision for new business models.
Croft’s ideas have been published in trade journals and he has spoken on education panels for Online / Outsourced Program Management (OPM). He also presented his education ecosystem technology at MIT Abdul Latif Jameel World Education Lab. He has provided technology consultation to United Nations Intergovernmental Renewable Energy Organization (IREO), and recently earned a patent for his technology.
Croft is passionate about transforming higher education and corporate training that maps to real world business and data. His mission is to “capture learning moments when and where they happen” using “composable education” regarding learner engagement and portability of corporate training.
Company website: http://volute.education