Workplace automation is here. AI and robotic process automation (aka software robots) are scanning all kinds of data at organisations to improve workplace safety, fraud, recruitment flows, and even travel costs. But it’s not all about the software robots. As automation and AI take care of these more monotonous tasks, workers are able to develop their expertise in unique ‘human’ strengths such as creativity, emotional intelligence, and storytelling.
2020 is more than ever about the ‘human side’ of our workforce; 2020 is about realising the full potential of humans and machines, working together.
Recently, we attended the hype machine, that is Learning Technologies, a 2-day showcase of organisational learning and the technology used to support learning at work. Where professionals travel, from across the globe, to hear fresh initiatives and ideas, from new providers. I interviewed thought leaders within the field of L&D, to get some real insight into the current climate of the sector. This article will discuss and explore my findings as well as the views of those interviewed.
Nigel Paine, Co-Presenter of Learning Now TV, claims ‘there’s a real crisis in L&D. It is attempting to remain relevant in the face of fast-evolving needs and rapid change within the environment’.
LinkedIn’s Workforce Learning Report 2019 shows us that 94 per cent of employees would stay longer with a company if it invested in their careers. This is even more true for millennials who will account for 75% of the global workforce in 2025. So, in light of this, how can we reimagine the future of workplace learning for the new decade? And more importantly, how do those making the learning decisions within businesses keep up to date with the requirements of their people?
The challenge of effectively measuring impact.
Joan Keevill, Chair at the eLearning Network Board of Directors, tells me that ‘a key challenge for many in L&D is going digital. A bigger challenge, however, is measuring impact, since completion alone is not a determinant of behaviour change’. At Learning Technologies, attendees are constantly hit with the striking statistic that only 14% of organisations say they effectively measure the impact of digital learning.
Ensuring that those involved in the L&D world understand the many opportunities in data, is crucial to then reach the next stage of imposing the necessity of it. AI is great at seeing patterns in data but does that really help organisations make better decisions?
I asked, Neil Haribhai, Learning Manager at UAL, about the future of AI and its potential impact on the field of L&D: ‘AI is growing and its applications to learning are expanding, but, I do not feel that it is taking over the world as many organisations are still playing catch-up’.
The opinions expressed are the opinions of the individual and do not necessarily constitute those of the University of the Arts London.
With so many businesses late to the party, this can only hinder L&D initiatives and strategies, when moving to a more data-embracing system across the board. Corporate L&D must welcome the latest in AI, and data analytics to deliver the kind of learning that will advance the business and talent tactics within their organisations.
It’s important to remember that getting computers to make decisions for us still requires a great many judgment calls. Therefore, in the same way, that 2020 is the year of balancing AI and human skills, we must also secure a balance between the tech used and the learning culture of our future workforce.
The element of curiosity in learning culture.
Every industry has its buzzwords, and L&D is no exception, the growing philosophy around ‘Learning Culture’ is continuously developing. This term is far from new, but the idea of curiosity is growing in popularity across L&D. Research shows that 85% of respondents in ‘curious’ companies said they were happy at work, compared to just 45% in the ‘non-curious’ organisations.
So, should we not be re-framing learning culture to a culture of curiosity? Or does one feed into the other?
At Learning Technologies, I discussed the subject with a senior L&D manager, who wishes to stay anonymous, he gets visibly frustrated when the term is bought up, explaining that “every workplace has a learning culture: the question that needs to be asked is not ‘do we have a learning culture?’ nor ‘how do we build one?’ but instead ‘is our current culture the one that we require?’ ’’.
So, I ask, when did you last feel curious? And what if you followed your curiosity, and promoted this internally to a few of your colleagues? The first step in creating a culture of learning in your workplace begins with your leaders, but this must trickle down to the rest of the workforce to be fully implemented and sustained.
All in all, what can we conclude from these findings? And how exactly can we reframe the world of L&D, for the next decade, to meet the industry’s demands and needs? I think the answer lies in the curiosity of your workforce and within the AI-implementation strategies of your leaders. But could it also be one which triggers the other to develop further?
One of the many properties of AI is to perform creative functions that are traditionally considered the prerogative of humans. Logically, if we, as humans, are being replaced, we should also replace our mindset and shift our targets to reach a new horizon.
The future of L&D belongs to those who can be resilient in their adaptability to grow outside of our previous comfort zones and adjust to the times. Leveraging AI and its insights to drive business value may be just a small hurdle to overcome when looking at the future of L&D, as a whole. Only time will tell…
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