Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Business Benefits Of Social Learning

 -  7/14/10

One thing repeatedly emphasized among learning and development professionals is the importance of getting “a seat at the table” – making their presence known to and establishing regular interaction with a company’s senior leadership. CLOs with the right technology and business perspective can change the face and fate of a company, but they need to be seen and heard to do so. Toward this end, CLOs need to go beyond procuring and implementing necessary training solutions and programs to directly connect their roles with the business outcomes of a company. The best way to do this is to improve workforce performance and demonstrate the effect of this on the bottom line.
Information technology, of course, plays a role. Ever since the advent of IT, it has dominated solutions offered to improve workforce performance, from computer- and web-based training to virtual classrooms and social-media-based knowledge preservation and transfer. Interactive learning conducted via the Internet and the accompanying mechanisms that capture and store the entire learning process for future use have become critical across a broad range of industries. The pace of adoption here has been rapid.
It is also worth noting that people learn where they spend most of their time. Learning doesn’t happen in isolation; it’s a function of communication and motivation. But learning has not yet been made as social as it could be. Using web-based social networking tools for learning and development can facilitate cost savings, which is a direct way to demonstrate the business impact of learning.
As any CLO knows, building out, delivering and maintaining a training program is costly. Web-based social networking tools can be rolled out comparatively inexpensively and meanwhile help people learn collectively. CLOs can help companies and individuals build their own learning networks and ensure that these are scalable. This is particularly essential in reaching younger employees. CLOs should recognize that young professionals have grown up with social networking tools and thus focus on phasing out entrenched legacy technologies such as e-learning modules that may be outdated in favor of interactive social networks.
This can only be achieved if collective knowledge is shared, curated and dynamically updated on a single platform that also allows knowledge collaboration and networking. Learning and development professionals should seek out a platform that enables them to not only save time spent on learning, but also solving day-to-day work-related problems faster – something that will increase employee productivity and customer satisfaction. This will also leave an active knowledge reservoir for new employees who can better navigate the intellectual capital of an organization. The end result is a learning process essential to the business overall, which ensures learning’s seat at the table.

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