Corporate Learning & Development: Learn, Grow or Become Obsolete


I’ve been in the corporate learning and development industry for nearly 20 years and have seen how it has shifted over the years, especially in the past 15 months. I recently read a great article by Josh Bersin, Founder and Principal at Bersin by Deloitte, titled “The Disruption of Digital Learning: Ten Things We Have Learned.” Interestingly enough, it closely aligned with the ideas I presented at a webinar I led for Training Magazine in March. The ideas behind both the article and the webinar are that companies that don’t learn and grow will become obsolete.

A Current Look at the Industry

What does this mean exactly? Let’s look at the facts and current state of the industry that led me to this assessment.

  1. Learning is now the #2 trend on the minds of CEOs and HR leaders. The L&D market is growing, and currently at $300 billion including the global corporate and education markets. According to John Leh from Talented Learning, the corporate LMS players in the market are not serving client’s needs – evidenced by the 50 new LMS companies entering the market just last year which brought the total to around 700 globally.
  2. Technology, technology in the workplace, and the workplace in general are changing so rapidly that it is difficult to keep up. Employees are feeling the pressure and employers are feeling it even more. The market is also changing and employees are getting busier by the day even though they have all this great technology.
  3. Top talent leaves organizations on average about every 30 months. Of course, like any average, there are exceptions, but it is an employee-driven market right now. Deloitte’s research shows that an employee will change jobs at an average of 17.2 times in their career.
  4. The only constant is change. There are lots of macroeconomic, business and industry, and social and environmental trends happening right now, as Nigel Jeremy, CLO of British Airways, shared at our Corporate Education Forum in Milan recently. There is a battlefield for talent on LinkedIn and Xing along with other social networks; technology and business are changing more rapidly than ever. Companies that we never thought would go out of business are. This has created a new level of focus for C-level executives on culture, engagement and learning. Organizations that don’t proactively get in front of these issues through on-boarding, learning, leadership development, and building structures to help take their organizations into the future will likely have difficulty hanging onto their best people.

Image of global trends and drivers of change

The Implications & Next Steps for Organizations

What are you and your organization doing to evolve your corporate learning and development strategy? How are you going to address these issues and stay ahead of the curve?

For too long, many organizations have looked at Learning & Development as a necessary evil of sorts, something they “must” spend money on periodically. As a result, we are now in a battlefield for talent like never before, while also facing a leadership crisis.

Companies are not investing enough in their people and it is hurting the business across the board. According to Bersin by Deloitte, 86% of companies have leadership gaps. The reality is that the average company spends just over $1,000 per year on their employees to help them grow.

The “great” companies spend around $4,000 per employee per year and get exponential business results. Companies will see great results if they enable employees to not only have required learning & development, but also optional development opportunities, as well as exposure to other departments in the company on a regular basis.

The Myth of One Perfect Solution

Many organizations are looking for that magic LMS or learning & development solution that’s going to solve all of their problems. The reality is two-fold: a single learning system is no longer going to work, and just investing in products is no longer enough. So much more is now required in a solution: social learning, personalization, video-based learning, macro/micro learning, web conferencing, content management, reporting. All of these elements make up a learning ecosystem.

And when it comes down to it, there are a handful of companies that are able to provide the majority of those capabilities of a learning ecosystem. Having a strategy to put together both the operational aspects as well as the right technology components is critical while aligning with your executive leadership team to make sure they understand the value of the investment.

An investment in the overall ecosystem and deployment as well as constant investment in the employees is what’s going to prevent a company from becoming obsolete and more importantly, help it grow.

To hear more on this subject from Tom Holz, register for our webinar: The Secrets of Global LMS Success: The most overlooked corporate learning essentials.