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key trends for L&D in 2016

December 4, 2015 In: Blog Written by: Mark Melia

With 2016 just around the corner its a good time to reflect on the key trends that are currently shaping our industry. In this post I will do just that, reflecting on the key L&D trends of 2015 and consider what this might mean going forward into 2016.

Content, content everywhere but is generic good enough?
Over the last two years the availability of off-the-shelf content has increased significantly. MOOCs are an example of this. Providing free access to content on a range of subjects to a large number of learners. e-Learning marketplaces have also enabled the growth of content. This is where people can come together to buy and sell e-learning content. e-Learning content marketplaces represent a significant shift in how e-learning can be distributed. An example of an e-learning marketplace is “OpenSesame”. OpenSeasame is probably the most prevalent of the e-learning content marketplaces with tens of thousands of courses developed by hundreds of e-learning developers. OpenSeasame plugs directly into Totara meaning organisations who use Totara have instant access to OpenSeasame for their organisation.

While there has certainly been a marked increase in the availability of generic content, here at Enovation, we have also seen a major increase in demand for our services for creating high quality custom learning content. We are finding that many organisations want to give employees a contextually sensitive and meaningful learning experience that they can put into action in the daily work from the get-go which is only really possible through custom e-learning.

Data Analytics
Analytics affects or will affect every aspect of the organisation, HR and L&D are no exception. Granted analytics has been slower to make an impact in HR than in other areas of the organisation such as sales and marketing but as HR leaders get to grips with its power we will see a big increase in analytics usage in HR which will follow through to L&D.

An example of how analytics can make an impact to L&D is learning analytics. Learning Analytics is about providing information related to how people are using learning content and understanding which learning experiences are effective and have the most impact for the business. When this information is correlated with cost and operational efficiency data the elusive ROI question is becoming something that L&D managers can begin to answer more effectively.

Analytics is a fact for the future. L&D managers need to recognise this and lead from the front by identifying what data they need in order to be able to answer the key questions the business will ask of them.

HR Tools are Employee Tools
Traditionally HR software tools have been a back office tool to administer who works in the organisation, what they do and who they report to. This is changing and changing quickly. HR systems are moving from “systems of record” to “systems of engagement”. This means that HR systems must become much easier to use for all employees in the organisation. Modern HR systems are expected to serve employees directly and employees need to be able to use these systems with no training whatsoever. This represents a big challenge in terms of User Interface (UI) and User eXperience (UX) design for organisations that create HR tools.

We are seeing this trend in L&D at present. A key selection criterion for any LMS purchase centres on the UI and UX of the system. Employees are looking for simple design that works on all their devices and gives contextually sensitive information and learning. We believe this trend is only going to become stronger going forward. People expect simple, Google simple. This is a very welcome trend as we build more intuitive systems, systems that focus on employee, HR and organisational needs.

The Leadership Challenge
The development and retention of future leaders in the organisation is a key challenge facing many organisations. A recent HR leadership summit found that 90% of organisations view developing future leaders in the organisations as a key concern yet only 26% feel ready to meet this challenge [Click here to read]. These figures are exacerbated by the fact that we are going to see bigger numbers retiring in the short to medium term and this will force companies to think seriously about succession planning. Particularly for senior and strategic positions.

As a first step it is crucial for organisations to think about what are the senior and strategic positions that warrant significant spend to build up a talent pool for the purposes of succession. This generally means identifying the high-flyers in the organisation and investing in them by putting them through an extensive development programme to ensure they have the skills and competencies to manage and lead the organisation when the time comes. L&D managers must also consider job-fit, looking at whether a person’s personality and level of emotional intelligence is a fit for specific key roles.

HR Tool Integration
While we have seen a big trend of consolidation in the HR software industry over the last two years there is still a lot of demand for specialised or function specific tools that do a particular job particularly well (such as tools found in the L&D space). HR managers can sometimes find the generic suites full of bloat and not a fit for their specific needs in a particular area. Specialised tools with key differentiating factors will continue to grow in 2016. Integration with HR information systems will be the key concern for HR managers purchasing these systems. Vendors providing these tools understand this and there is a growing competency within the vendors to integrate their tool with HRIS and even provide a seamless user experience.

2015 was a very busy year for L&D indeed. Here at Enovation it was no different. This year we launched our financial compliance LMS, our Totara offering and grew our e-learning development division substantially. Enovation’s goal is to partner with L&D to meet their challenges such as those outlined in this article and also empower L&D managers to take advantage of the opportunities that the changing L&D landscape presents.

We have had great success this year and have partnered with many truly great companies. We are very excited about what 2016 holds. To this end we have a very clear plan to make our products stronger and to increase the value our customers get from partnering with us. We look forward to working with you in the New Year!