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Towards Maturity Benchmark Study – what the research tells us

I read the latest Towards Maturity benchmark report with interest. The 2012 study (in which 500 organisations participated, with almost two thirds of respondents responsible for developing learning strategy) shows top performers spending a higher than average percentage of their learning budget on technology. Towards Maturity Managing Director Laura Overton believes that 2012 will be a pivotal year in terms of more widespread adoption of learning technologies.

What are learning technologies primarily used to deliver? Compliance has been one of the most popular candidates for conversion to online delivery, but it’s disturbing to note that the completion rate for mandatory compliance training stands at only 63%. While this is better than the completion rate for non-mandatory courses, it still falls woefully short of the 100% completion rate that the term ‘mandatory’ should surely imply.

Clearly, there is still considerable room for improvement in the design and delivery of compliance programmes. Perhaps what is currently missing is a more seamless approach to integration into the workplace of what should surely be approached as change management programmes, with a focus on campaign rather than course.

On the other hand, the use of online technologies to support leadership and performance management programmes remains something of a missed opportunity. Previous TM benchmark studies have shown that the effective use of learning technologies can yield dividends in these areas, but the report highlights that face-to-face training continues to dominate.

Given that in 2012 around 90% of respondents reported seeking to improve in these vital areas, with only 20% on average achieving success, a more systematic adoption of learning technologies seems long overdue. LEO Learning has a successful track record of designing and delivering customised portals and targeted performance support to help busy professionals develop key skills, so we’d be happy to help.

Doing more with less

Top learning organisations report that they are cutting down on both delivery and administration time whilst improving reach and time to competency. Essentially, they appear to be achieving the holy grail of doing more with less.

So how are they doing this?

Well, it’s interesting to note how they devote more time to strategy, planning and development of learning than to admin or delivery. This, of course, is something LEO Learning have always advocated; sufficient time invested in upfront planning and development pays dividends, improving the quality of the learning produced and reducing administration.

Informal and relationship learning

There is another important point to note. Top performers are investing more in supporting informal learning, and they intend to do even more next year. In practical terms, more organisations are allowing access to external social media, and around a third have implemented internal social media applications, so it seems that more recognised learning and development interventions may now be taking place outside the formal sphere.

This is important because almost all organisations report that they are seeking to speed up the application of learning into the workplace – with 41% now regarding this as critical, only a quarter say they are currently achieving this. Seamless informal ‘on-the-job’ training is clearly one way to foster this.

It seems to me that this important area is one where mobile delivery has the potential to make a big impact, allowing initial training to fuse seamlessly with performance support via just-in-time mobile learning and side-kicks and checklists.