Enabling Better Business Transformation
Organizations must to find new ways to enable employees to gain valuable skills, while employee learning and development must be reimagined and redefined so employees can drive their own careers and development.
By Kathy Bries
In the new digital economy, converging job roles, evolving technologies and the continued growth of the Internet of Everything have significantly changed the face of the workplace. In addition, we now have the most multigenerational workforce in history, which means great diversity of needs and expectations.
This constellation of changes requires business transformation. To navigate this transformation, organizations require an agile, high-performing workforce. Current and projected talent shortages and skills gaps make this goal difficult to achieve, yet achieving it is essential. Organizations must to find ways to enable employees to gain the skills that the organization needs. Employee learning and development must be reimagined and redefined because, in today's workplace, employees must be empowered to drive their own careers and development.
Promoting Talent Agility
The information landscape is transforming at a record pace. The Global Human Capital Trends 2014 report from Bersin by Deloitte found that while knowledge doubles every year, skills have a half-life of only 2.5 to 5 years. Consequently, 75 percent to 90 percent of the workforce requires continuous reskilling. Couple that fact with the projected shortage of 38 to 40 million college-educated workers by 2020, and it becomes clear that new strategies to meet the demand for accelerated learning are needed now. To ignore that need is to risk serious talent shortages.
Not surprisingly, organizations now need a new paradigm of talent agility for a workforce of mobile, continuously learning employees. To accommodate the increasingly mobile workforce, continuous learning must be available on demand, anytime, anywhere.
Empower the Employees
This new paradigm must allow employees to be fully engaged in developing their own skills and career plans. Learning and development professionals can then focus on larger initiatives, providing multiple modalities of both prescribed and personal learning. Employees, empowered to choose what's right for them, gain a sense of their importance to the organization. Targeted learning experiences help them reach their own growth goals while benefitting the organization as a whole.
The organization and the employee also gain when social learning is part of a new workplace culture. Social learning creates an interactive, interconnected experience for employees. People who might never otherwise have met are able to work together and learn from each other, strengthening teamwork and furthering personal engagement in the organization's goals.
Real-time access to knowledge and experts can enhance learning initiatives. According to a recent IDC study, 61 percent of knowledge workers access four or more systems daily to obtain the information they need. This means that over one-third of a typical worker's day may be spent looking for and consolidating information from across a variety of systems. To optimize productivity gains, organizations can consolidate content into an enterprise-wide digital library that expedites storing, searching for, and retrieving content at a personal, shared, or enterprise level.
Making Expertise and Analytics Accessible
The right knowledge management system can centralize subject matter expertise and make critical information more accessible and available. A repository of expert resources that is integrated with collaboration and communication tools enables employees to quickly and easily connect with one expert or many experts simultaneously, on any mobile device, whenever and wherever needed -- to share ideas, gather knowledge or meet a project deadline.
To help organizations get the most from a knowledge management system, analytics are a necessity. According to Bersin by Deloitte's research, only one in 10 organizations has access to "strong" analytics to support human resources and talent management today. To better align business strategy with learning and development investments, organizations can harness the power of analytics. New visual analytics technology can serve as a heat map, providing insights into organizational and departmental group thinking, and spotlighting knowledge, capabilities, and interests in real time. By making knowledge and information transparent, accessible and relevant across the enterprise, individuals and teams can better understand their knowledge strengths and gaps and address them accordingly.
This type of insight and analysis also can help organizations identify and develop next-generation leaders. With insight into knowledge, learning and interests, organizations can capitalize on their collective strengths to disrupt the market or develop a global supply chain of talent that aligns with the business strategy.
In many ways, skills are the new economic currency. Developing employees who can drive innovation and address evolving business models, solutions, and services is critical in the digital economy. To achieve that goal, information and expertise must be centralized, shareable and immediately available -- in real time -- by a highly mobile workforce.
A new generation of learning and knowledge management systems offers the tools to solve these challenges and mitigate talent shortages and skills gaps. Organizations can use these systems to deploy learning and development as a strategic lever to garner a competitive edge as they navigate their digital transformation.
Kathy Bries is senior director and general manager of Learning@Cisco.