The Latest in Learning

Presenters at the upcoming HR Technology Conference and Exposition ® share insights and strategies behind one global company's massive learning-and-development upgrade.

At the upcoming HR Tech Conference in October, attendees will get to see and hear a lot about an increased focus on learning and development, and the associated technology solutions that enable organizational success in this important area.

Recently, Conference Co-Chair Steve Boese talked with Debbie Collins, director of MyLearning and University Information Systems for Capgemini, and Humair Ghauri, senior vice president of products and technology for SumTotal Systems, who will be co-presenting at the event. At their session, Collins and Ghauri will talk about how the application of modern technology, talent and learning-process standardization -- as well as a focus on flexible, adaptable solutions -- have enabled Capgemini, a Paris-based global consulting, technology and outsourcing firm, to meet the learning and development goals for its 145,000 employees across 40 countries in North America, Europe, South America and the Asia-Pacific region.

In the Q&A below, the two share some key insights and outcomes from these initiatives, as well as advice that can be leveraged by HR and learning-management leaders in any organization for the successful execution of learning-and-development-technology projects. They make it clear how the combination of technology, process standardization and adaptability are powering employee learning and development for Capgemini's global workforce. Their examples also show how, even in the largest of organizations, attention to individual employee learning and development is essential for continued business success.

In a rapidly changing and dynamic business environment, technology continues to be an essential element for HR leaders to leverage in order to support organizational capability, employee engagement and individual career development. In addition to learning more about the Capgemini story, conference attendees will also hear from HR leaders from a diverse set of organizations covering topics that include linking learning investments to business performance and making learning-and-development strategies become more agile to support business-strategy shifts. There will also be updates on current trends and what the future holds for enterprise learning technologies.

We think this renewed focus on learning-and-development technology, and how it's evolving and aligning with HR and business needs to build and enhance skills, will enable organizations to compete in fast-moving business conditions, and will provide employees with the tools they need -- both today and in the future.

Debbie, at the HR Tech Conference in October, you will be talking about how Capgemini standardized its talent-management and learning processes across its global organization. Can you share with us why Capgemini pursued this initiative and what your goals were?

Collins: We wanted to provide a solution that employees would want to engage with and [one that would] directly link learning and development to sales and business growth. We wanted to give managers and employees insight into each person's career development and help them prepare for future roles.

With such a large global workforce, we were facing challenges with standardizing and leveraging training across all of our locations. Employees had to go to multiple portals to access training depending on whether it was a global or local offering, and administrators could not see all of the trainings available and what was being duplicated across regions.

There was a lot of waste and, in order to develop our people across the organization, we really needed to give employees a more coherent, cohesive environment to get all of their training in one place, but [one] that was flexible enough for localization.

Humair, with a large organization such as Capgemini having such aggressive goals for talent and learning transformation, what was your approach to helping it meet these challenges? What did you think the biggest obstacles would be?

Ghauri: Ultimately, it would be a two-pronged transformation. These projects are never just about technology or just about process change. They require both elements in order to be successful. Certainly, we could help Capgemini decrease inefficiencies across the organization through the unified technology platform, but we would also support them in how to be proactive in building an organizational culture that values their employees' development by enabling them to be successful in their current job and prepare them for future roles.

Our organizations have been partnering since 2000, so that history helped us to really understand [Capgemini's] motivations behind this initiative. We knew that it wanted to completely change how the organization approached employee development. Beyond creating consistency and efficiency in the way people accessed their talent and learning system, we were able to help Capgemini roll out a solution that would make administrators and employees at all levels want to continuously engage with the learning activities, develop skills and move their careers forward.

So, what does such a large technology initiative and deployment look like? How did you drive user adoption across such a large, diverse workforce? 

Collins: We made the transition to the new technology platform very simple for employees by creating a single place where they would access any type of training. Using the new platform, we were able to deliver our global-curriculum offerings that provide core, role-based, sector, service-line and technology training. Employees have access to development opportunities in a variety of settings, including in-classroom training; live, facilitated virtual courses; custom e-learning modules; on-the-job training; and downloadable mobile courses. Additionally, employees have access to a substantial library of off-the-shelf content, online books, videos and live mentoring.

From a talent-and-learning-strategy perspective, by linking the learning content with competencies, [including for] our global roles, we were able to increase employee engagement and get them excited about their own development. Custom learning maps provide paths that help employees' development within their current jobs and can better prepare them for their next roles within the company.

What positive impacts did the standardization of talent and learning processes have on Capgemini as an organization? What were the challenges that you encountered along the way?

Collins: The results have been remarkable. Our learning-management system is the second-most-used workplace technology, behind only company email. While initially it is often compliance training that may get our employees to first enter the learning system, they keep returning to the platform to further develop their broader skillset and continue their professional development.

With the reporting available, our learning business partners can demonstrate how we've invested in our people, [and] how growing our employees' skills has contributed to our sales targets, delivery profitability and client satisfaction. We now have the analytics to come to the executive table and really help shape our employees' development and tie that to business results.

These new learning approaches and the technology platform have also provided Capgemini the flexibility it needs to meet mandated regulatory reporting requirements and to support our internal compliance initiatives. In some of our countries, we really need to be able to demonstrate for the local governments what training our employees have completed. The new technology platform has provided us with the tools to do that and avoid any penalties, which is a huge preventative measure.

Of course, there were some challenges along the way, and not necessarily specific to implementing a learning system. I think the biggest challenge with these types of initiatives is often user adoption. Ongoing marketing and education campaigns were launched across the group to bring awareness to the development opportunities available.  Tool kits with standard branding, facilitator guides, e-learning modules and articles were built globally and shared with local champions to distribute locally. These all helped to raise employee awareness and increase user acceptance and adoption of the platform.

What does the future look like for employee development at Capgemini and how will technology help support that vision?

Collins: We're very pleased to have delivered on our initial vision of providing that one place for employees to get all of the training they need. Now, we're working on taking that to the next level. The digital revolution and increased pace of innovation are profoundly changing the environment within which Capgemini operates. We know we must adapt and innovate how we provide opportunities for employee development, and certainly technology is a key element that enables us to deliver content, expertise and developmental experiences to our employees.

In the process of this initiative, we've implemented innovative programs that [align] development [with] the employee's [exact] need and encourage knowledge sharing across the organization. For example, one of our learning programs is a comprehensive, self-directed learning journey that includes a gamut of online tools, multiple touch points and live weekly virtual sessions guided by a facilitator and supported by subject-matter experts. Social channels allow participants to interact in real time with their peers, facilitators and subject-matter experts in the sessions.

We now offer our own internal MOOC [massive open online course] called "Software Engineer of the Future," designed to educate our global software engineers on the skills required for the future in this role. The MOOC is designed around collaboration, conversation and real-life case studies, and enables the individual to become a continuous self-directed learner.  [The program is] supported by teaching assistants and global subject-matter experts, [and] every week, a new topic and content is introduced through tutorial videos, transcripts, reference materials, and an online-community weekly challenge and assessment. In its second run, we've been able to reskill a larger audience than through previous delivery methods.

To adapt to changes in how our employees are looking for answers outside of traditional training-and-development channels (for example, using Google search or external-content-aggregator sites), we are launching in early September our own single, simple, intuitive search interface. The tool is participant-centric and will make it very easy for learners to find courses via our intranet, combining the best practices and innovation techniques of world-renowned business-to-consumer and business-to-business search-catalog systems into one. Intelligent keyword searches, smart filtering options and one-click registrations enhance the usability of this new tool to a new level that has never been experienced before with our internal systems.

Our long-term vision focuses on anytime, anywhere accessibility -- providing a seamless experience across multiple devices -- PC, tablet or smartphone -- for development to take place in-context and on-the-job. We continue to increase collaboration among employees with our social capabilities. We also strive to make development an effortless part of employees' daily lives by providing micro-learning content in smaller chunks of information and offering reinforcement at different intervals to transfer and sustain knowledge gain, leading to improved job performance.

For more information on the 18th Annual HR Technology ® Conference and Expo, to be held Oct. 18 through 21 at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Conference Center in Las Vegas, visit


Sep 3, 2015
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