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Companies Want New L&D Technology

Bob Little 

September 9, 2016

A report from the research and analysis firm Brandon Hall reveals that more companies are seeking integrated learning technology with better user interfaces than their existing solutions.

The report, released recently to subscribers, found that exploring new technology was the top learning & development priority over the next 12 months for 48 percent of organizations surveyed. Even more significantly, 44 percent of companies are actively considering replacing their current learning management systems. This is up from just 16 percent in 2015. Technology has become the top L&D priority.

The report’s authors – David Wentworth, Claude Werder and Nissa Benjamin –  revealed respondents’ top five learning technology priorities:

  • Social/collaborative tools (43 percent).
  • Mobile delivery (41 percent).
  • Data analytics (36 percent).
  • Virtual classrooms (29 percent).
  • Content management (28 percent).

Fragmentation and User Experience

Interestingly, more than two thirds of the companies in the survey say that the next learning technology they buy will be a suite of integrated technologies from a single vendor. Individual solutions can be linked via the cloud and application programming interfaces (APIs), but most companies are not looking to mix and match. In fact, twice as many companies are interested in buying suite solutions as are interested in buying separate, best-of-breed ones.

According to Brandon Hall, these results imply that organizations want platforms to provide a learning experience that can easily be tailored to the individual learner and his or her timetable. The authors also identified the top five reasons given for switching to a new LMS. Topping the list was the desire for an improved user experience:

  • For improved user experience (UX) (88 percent).
  • For improved administrator experience (74 percent).
  • For enhanced reporting (66 percent).
  • For better integration of systems (66 percent).
  • For mobile capabilities (66 percent).

Investment in Learning Technology

Of those companies surveyed that are implementing – or which have­­ implemented – solutions, nearly 50 percent say that learning technology accounts for one to five percent of their overall HR budget. Twenty percent put this figure at between six and 10 percent, and the other 30 percent say the figure is greater than this.

A pie chart showing how much of companies' HR budget is dedicated to learning & development technology, according to a report from analysis and research firm Brandon Hall.

Figure 1 – HR budget allocated to learning tech according to report from Brandon Hall.

 

According to Brandon Hall, 42 percent of the companies that took part in its research expect to allocate more of their budgets to learning technologies next year. Given the size of the average HR budget, this represents a significant investment in learning technologies.

One reason for this increased interest is a correlation, revealed by the report, between L&D tech and improved key performance indicators. These include revenue, productivity, engagement, costs, and turnover. As a result, only one percent of companies questioned reported that productivity had decreased since learning technology was introduced to the workforce. Only three percent said that they have no plans to implement learning technology.

L&D Priorities

Among the companies planning to reinvest in learning technology, current L&D priorities are:

  • Developing or revising existing learning strategies (47 percent).
  • Creating stronger links between learning and individual/organizational performance (42 percent).
  • Improving the measurement of learning (39 percent).
  • Exploring new learning modalities (38 percent).

The average organization’s learning management system accounts for some 39 percent of its learning technology budget. However, that company is spending just 4.7 percent and 4.3 percent of its learning tech budget on social and mobile technologies, respectively. Unsurprisingly, more than one third of companies surveyed by Brandon Hall expect those percentages to grow over the next year.

Current Satisfaction Levels

When it comes to technology-enabled informal learning, more than half of the companies surveyed consider discussion forums and collaboration platforms to be key to the business. Despite this, only five percent of those questioned say that they’re very satisfied with the discussion features of their current platform.

L&D systems should be easy to use, but this data suggests that many learning software applications are anything but. The data shows widespread dissatisfaction with UX. The report’s authors say, “A bad UX equals poor engagement that can be difficult to turn around. To put into perspective just how important UX is, 43 percent of companies say that an intuitive, user-centric interface is essential when buying new learning technology, and 40 percent say it’s critical to their business.”

Organizations also want to switch to tech that integrates with other systems. The most common systems that learning technology currently integrates with are human resource information systems (37 percent), content management systems (29 percent), and talent management systems (28 percent). Thirty-six percent of the companies surveyed say it’s critical that their next learning technology platform integrates with a talent management system. The same number want integration with a content management system.

Although integration has become a sought-after aspect of learning technology, only three percent of the companies taking part in the research say they’re satisfied with their current integrations. In fact, in the formal arena, around a third of respondents said they are totally dissatisfied with the content management capabilities of their learning technology.

What kind of L&D technology would benefit your organization? Do you prefer all-in-one suites? Or are you happy to spend some time integrating separate solutions?

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