Digital Transformation is a Human Story

Every year, just before the holidays, senior HR and L&D leaders from across the globe come together in Berlin for a day of knowledge and peer exchange, and to look ahead at the year to come. These are the main takeaways of the annual reality check on eLearning and talent management practices.

It was a day of inspiration dedicated to discussing digital transformation and the human factor. Through best practice examples as well as reality check sessions throughout the day, we looked at how to challenge and overcome the barriers L&D still faces and what is it that we need to do today to prepare for 2018?

1. Make Digital Transformation About People, Not Just Technology

Brand new data presented by Laura Overton (CEO of benchmarking organization Towards Maturity) during the keynote speech shows that this year 2 out of 5 CEOs have made digital transformation a priority. Companies have grown the budget dedicated to technology from 19% to 22% and in fact,  we are currently using more technology in learning than ever. However, this brings forward the need for L&D to play the role of facilitator in order to make sure that our workforce is properly trained to use technology in order to achieve their day-to-day objectives.

As Brian Solis also states, it has now become clearer than ever that “digital transformation is really a human story” where the focus has now shifted towards more than using technology to increase performance. We are now going further with this on-going process by aiming towards influencing organizational culture, facilitating collaboration and introducing new ways of communicating, working and learning within our companies. As facilitators, L&D professionals need to make sure that their teams are more flexible and more adaptable in 2018, a key role which has also transpired through the key question posed by one of the speakers of the day, Richard Cannane of Trafigura: “Your role might change in the future. What are you doing to prepare yourself for that?”

You can watch the full recording of the keynote speech held by Laura Overton.

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2. Break Through the Barriers of Digital Transformation and Drive Business Goals

L&D departments across the world still face a lot of barriers when it comes to implementing their strategies. While some of these barriers such as the costs of set-up or unreliable ICT infrastructure are harder to control, there are other obstacles which professionals can tackle in 2018.

Training soft skills within your organization can be the key which will help you break through barriers such as lack of skills among employees to manage their own learning or management resistance, a challenge also mentioned by Prof. Dr. Bernd Rüschoff from the Duisburg-Essen University in a great case study on how to “achieve engagement through the use of soft skills and get your staff on board with digital transformation”.

The good news is that progress has been made in the last year, progress which would not have been possible without strong communication between L&D and top management. During the reality check session of Speexx Exchange, we could see that there is a real change taking place in the role that L&D has in driving business goals.

While last year the majority of attendees stated that HR and business goals are aligned only to an extent of 30 – 50%, this year the majority has stated that they have achieved an alignment rate of 60 – 80%. What does this mean for L&D in 2018? The better alignment of learning and business goals means that professionals will have better opportunities to reach their goals in 2018 and it is also evidence of a growing role that L&D is taking within top performing companies.

hr objectives

Data source: Speexx Exchange 2017

3. Use Technology to Empower Your Workforce

One of the recurring ideas which all of the speakers at Speexx Exchange have touched upon is the need for L&D to not only implement new technologies in the organizational processes but to actually use it in a way in which it empowers your teams and people to be better at their jobs. Thomas Jenewein of SAP mentioned that while AI and machine learning are changing learning, one of the most important things to keep in mind is that “only 5% of jobs can be fully automated, leaving 95% of jobs in need of people who can cope with the changes brought on by technology”.

This, of course, is where L&D comes in. “No matter what the size of your team is, success for L&D comes from a smart use of technology and people”, as Jamie Turner of SDI Media also pointed out.

Ines Majewski, from Sartorius College, also brought forward the challenge that comes when working in an increasingly digital industry, such as biotechnology, and “the need for training to help people develop new skills which are relevant in what we now call industry 4.0”.

By using technology in a smart and creative way, L&D can empower people across all sectors, not only in large corporations, but also in non-for-profit organizations such as the case presented by Róisin Cassidy and Samantha Davis from Save the Children, where gamification in learning is being put to great use to train volunteers when they most needed, helping us “become better humanitarians”.

Speexx will also present the outcomes of the closing workshop “How do we turn talk into action?” in future content. 

Register for Speexx Exchange 2018.

About the Author:

Armin is the co-founder and president of Speexx, the world’s leading online language learning and business communication skills training service. He writes and occasionally speaks about learning languages online and the secret of the Perfect Blend and global talent management, Speexx, e-learning and generally believes in the power of communication. Follow Armin on Twitter and LinkedIn.