17 November, 2020

Learning Tech Trends Q&A Call

Dani Johnson

TL;DR

  • This call focuses on the present and future of learning technology
  • It also provides a first look at some of the 2020 Learning Tech Landscape research
  • With special guest Christopher Lind, Dani Johnson answer member questions, such as:
    • What technology do organizations need to keep up with learners?
    • What learning tech categories are promoting human-centered learning?
    • What about “Zoom” fatigue?

Q&A Call Video

Transcript

Introduction

Dani Johnson:

So this is our bi-weekly Q and a call. And this one's a special, special edition because we have Christopher Lynn on the phone as well. Christopher and I have known each other for about a year. I don't believe I hadn't heard of him before that, but he, he runs,  a podcast called learning sharks where he talks about learning technology all the time. So I figured between him, between himself and myself,  we just finished some research on learning technology. We can answer any question and out there I'm learning technology. So

Christopher Lind:

Just setting the bar high, any question.

Dani Johnson:

It's going to be a barn burner. That's we have to, this is the way they work. , Please feel free to submit your questions and let's do it in chat since everybody's already familiar with chat. I've also given everybody, speaking rights. So feel free to just talk as well.

I'm going to go the way that we're going to set this up is I'm going to go through just a few slides on some of the data that we've seen in the learning tech market, just to give you a sense for what's going on. And then we had a ridiculous nber of questions being submitted. So I chose 12. I don't think we're going to get to all 12. , but we'll start with those.

And then as, as I mentioned earlier, people on the phone have first dibs. So if you have a question, a follow up question or anything like that, feel free to talk or go ahead and, and put it in the chat. And,  Christopher Lynn just corrected me. Technically the live stream is linked. So look for learning tech talks, when you're looking for that webinar,

Christopher Lind:

Wait, Hey, you know what it fits with the title of this learning tech talks, learning tech trends, right? We got, we got the LTT going. So I like it makes it even more appropriate bringing in that barn burner theme.

Dani Johnson:

Okay. And, and please, we want this to be a conversation. So if you have something to say, please, please jp in. We would love your comments.

The Market

Dani Johnson:

So let's start with the current market. There's a lot of stuff going out there. And we spent all smer long asking technology vendors kind of where they were.

, and they were very good to us and gave us quite a bit of information about what's going on. We, we really, really appreciate their candor. , the first thing that we're saying is there are lots of vendors. We've got about 223 in our database. And we know that isn't all of them. We know it's just a tiny portion of them, but it gives us a sense for kind of what's happening in learning tech in general. So you can see that curve by the year founded that little tip at the end.

That doesn't necessarily mean it's leveling off. In fact, I think,  we've seen an acceleration that a little tip generally, is the time they're founded versus the time that they hit the market. So it takes about a year and a half. We noticed between the time they incorporate to the time they're actually running with something to go to market. So lots of vendors are out there right now, which isn't surprising. , but they continue to grow and grow and grow. It's crazy.

The second thing that we're seeing is there's lots of functionality. Two years ago, and when we started this research, we took a look at how things had been explained. And they are usually explained in terms of LMS, LXP, et cetera. And when we talked to the vendors, they didn't like that because many of them do more than just an LMS.

Dani Johnson:

So an LMS has also an LXP it's also a microlearning platform. It's become a little bit heavier than that. And so we started asking them what functionalities they have in 2018. We recognized about 28 of them. And then in the last two years, we've seen a couple more pop. Knowledge management and podcasting seem to be really, really taking off as far as learning goes.

And so, as we talk about learning in as sort of, we categorize learning on the red thread team we talk about it in terms of functionality, not necessarily in terms of LXP, LMS, we still recognize those as things that show up on the balance sheet. , but in actuality, we're actually talking about what those technologies can do and what they can help you do versus a technology description that doesn't necessarily describe that very well. It turns out there are 30 right now.

Christopher Lind:

With this piece, Dani Well, I was just going to add to this, that I think this is, I liked that at least from an analyst perspective. And I think a lot of the things we're seeing similar to what we're seeing in the workplace as companies are moving more towards skills versus job roles. I think this is a trend we're going to see in learning tech too.

That's going to be helpful. Is this shift from like categories to capabilities and saying, well it's because it is confusing. It is really confusing. And there is a lot of duplicative functionality. And when you try and just categorize things, it gets really hard because it's like, well, here's five LMS is, but they're, their capabilities are vastly different.

And you can't just say, we need an LMS. You need to say, we're trying to do this, this, this, and this, which one can you use? And three of those LMS has, may not be able to do it. So, which, you know, but 10 other things that aren't even an LMS may be able to. So I think it's a, it's an important shift, but I think it also makes it for people who are trying to like navigating the space. It can be very overwhelming.

Dani Johnson:

I completely agree. Marketers tend to use buzzwords. So for a while, and I think still LXP was a buzz word. So I started asking around and said, okay, what do you mean by, you know, you say you're an LXP and you say you're an LXP. And some of them had as few as like three functionalities, but they were still describing themselves as an LXP. And so the big terms, LMS, LXP you know, micro learning platform. They're not, they're not descriptive enough. And as Chris said, they're probably not granular enough to figure out what's duplicative in your organization, as well as what are you trying to do that can help you get where you're going without buying types of technology. The other thing that we're seeing, which is a little it's been picking up over the years is it used to be that budgets were not that flexible.

So you had $10 million every 10 years to put a new learning platform in place. We're seeing that loosen up a little bit. So budgets, you may, may not be getting anywhere. You probably are, but you may not be getting any more, but its spread out over time. And so some of these smaller organizations, these smaller vendors are playing much better because you don't, you're not spending all your money hoping that you get the most functionality you possibly can. You're actually finding the things that are gonna help you, and plugging them in and unplugging them as you go along, which is, I think a really positive thing about that.

Christopher Lind:

And I get it right. I get it. Marketing has to be able to fit things into categories. So I understand where they're coming from. Right. It's kind of like, well, what are we, what category do we fall into? But I think just for people who are starting to navigate this space, it is you do have to break it down into the capabilities. Cause it's not, I mean, SharePoint's an LXP, honestly, like you could say SharePoint is an Alex P but you know, what kind of capabilities does it have? So I think it's, it's an interesting one

Dani Johnson:

For sure. Cool. All right. The next thing we did is we actually took a look at, how many functionalities organizations had, and the, the purple is 2018 and the green is 2020. You can see in 2020, there is a monster nber of vendors that are offering five functionalities or less. So they're really looking at point solutions, providing a point solution versus providing this massive platform.

You'll also see that there are more that are offering more than 20. And so as, as generally happens, we see tech vendors sort of mature and continue to build and buy stuff as they go as they sort of mature over the years. And so I think that's kind of where that's coming from.

Some of those, those technologies are consolidating and becoming more of a platform versus a point solution. But the point of this slide, I think, is it's really important to, to not underestimate the point solutions.

A lot of people say that we're moving toward platforms. Again, there tends to be a pendulum. I don't necessarily think that's true. Two people in a garage with an AWS account can start a learning tech platform and the way that things are situated, I think they probably have more legs than they have in the past. The barriers to entry are much, much lower than they have been. Christopher, I don't know if you have a comment on this.

Christopher Lind:

Right. This debate kind of swings back and forth all over the place. Like, Oh, is everything kind of right? Are we, are we going to end up with,  and without getting into the vendor space, right? Like the Workday that can do everything, is that where we're going? And I agree, I'm, I'm seeing a lot more diversification of things, which I think is a good thing.

Especially with the way budgets are structured, where sometimes it's like, well, we've got this very unique situation or this problem. And I think going back to the point of a shift, we're seeing is back to the budget shift. I'm also seeing a shift of, instead of saying, we have to, we have to get it perfect because this has to last 25 years. It's more of a, well, we might have a situation. We need to use this on.

Christopher Lind:

It may be three months. It may be six months. And then that, that need disappears and we don't need it as much. And I, and I am seeing more flexibility in that. I think one of the things that is interesting in the tech space that,  is, is a positive thing, which will, and I think this may be contributing to the, Oh, it's all simplifying. And we're going more to the platforms. Thing is on the vendor space. I'm seeing more and more vendors basically doing B to B with other vendors.

And so these platforms are integrating their capability behind the scenes. So you think you're buying this and wow. It has everything we're really behind that curtain. There's actually multiple vendors that rather than these big players saying, we're going to reinvent the wheel on all this stuff.

They're saying, you know, we're going to partner with this firm for their video integration capability. We're going to partner with this company because they're the best at social learning. And this is, you know, this kind of stuff. And so it is giving that impression that, Oh, the ecosystem simplifying. But I would say the point solution thing is off the charts.

Dani Johnson:

I would totally agree. APIs are also getting easier. So it's easier to plug things in and out very quickly versus the two year integration that some of the larger platforms used to take. So I think we're seeing much more of an ecosystem play than we ever have before. And it's much easier and not as intimidating as it once was to work with slightly.

Christopher Lind:

That's a good one. Cause David brought up, David mentioned this in the comments is right. I think there is this trend, especially at the senior level to be like, can't we just buy the thing, right. Can't we just can't we just get the one thing. And I think some of it is, it feels easier. There's also a lack of understanding of the actual capability and needs that we have. Like, well, no, we can't like we can get this one thing, but it doesn't really do any of the stuff we need very well.

So I think telling that story is helpful. And I do think digital acen is improving slowly but surely with executives to understand, Oh, okay. We can't just buy an LMS and call it a day. We've got work to do still. But I am seeing kind of more of this understanding that, okay, we need, we need more than just this one platform. And then we call ourselves good,

Dani Johnson:

Agreed. Matthew Turner has an interesting point. He says the ecosystem play that that phrase is what they're seeing their most successful clients deploy. So it's those that are sort of more for thinking and more leaning toward the future are tending to use, an ecosystem play rather than a platform play, which we're seeing as well. Two more slides. This one is more choices for the same functionality.

So you can see in 2018, these were the number of vendors that said that they did these certain functionalities. And then in 2020, the purple, those are the ones that say they do it today. , interestingly and not surprisingly at all, analytics and measurement is number one. Everyone is realizing the importance of element analytics, not just what it can do for the learning aspect of your organization, but how it feeds into other things like performance and talent acquisition and all of these types of things.

So that, that, again, I think it goes back to the thing, the thing that we're seeing with ecosystem play data is a really important aspect of that ecosystem play. , we're also seeing more project marketplaces, which are on the far left side of this graph.

People are starting to use things other than training to educate their people. We're seeing that with the project marketplace and the expertise directories, video practice, career pathing, all of these things sort of roll together to give your people a full learning experience. , it's a changing world. I think I've seen it change remarkably in the, in the past two years. , one caveat. I have no idea what's going on with assessment. So what I'm pointing that one out, cause it's blindingly out there. It looks like if your organizations are focusing on assessment right now, I've dug into that a little bit. And I don't have, I don't have a good answer, Christopher, what do you have to?

Christopher Lind:

So, so a couple of things that I think is interesting about it. So one so the analytics and measurement, and this is one like when I talk to people, I'm like, be very careful in this because I feel like analytics or measurement is now becoming like the, the term LXP. Right? It's everybody's saying it, you know?

Yeah, yeah. Analytics, well, d it's a digital platform. It's capturing data. So if it's digital, it's capturing data, it has the capability to do those kinds of things. I think where we can kind of push more is to, and if you're considering solutions as one to kind of dig into like, what, right? How is it laying that out? Is it right in dashboards? Is it, you know, things, the other thing that I'm seeing starting to creep up more, I still think it's a huge opportunity, but some of the players that are doing a really good job of this is automating insights from that data and analytics, right.

Christopher Lind:

Versus just presenting like, Hey, here's a bunch of information and you're left to figure out. So what does that mean? I'm actually seeing some really unique applications of machine learning and AI on, Hey, we can kind of start to predict, like we can let the machines know this is a trend we're seeing you should do this.

And I think we, as practitioners should be pushing more to say, help us translate some of this because data is fine. But if you don't know what to do with it, it's just numbers on a slide and the capabilities there. The one that surprised me about go ahead, go ahead. No problem.

Dani Johnson:

I was just gonna say, I think sort of an increasing aspect of that it's not just helping L&D leaders have insights about what the data means. It's also about plugging into other systems, so that it's automated. And then we're seeing this particularly with sort of curation external and internal curation and job roles and those types of things.

We're also seeing it with performance. Hey, you performed badly this last month in this area, you know, dragging in information from other systems to help automate some of these things that we've had to do by hand, or had to be very cognizant about as an L and D team to make sure that they happened. All right. Other point and then there were two questions that came up.

Christopher Lind:

Yeah. So the, the other one, the other two super quick in terms of assessment, I think we're, we're seeing this vast drop-off is more in the terminology of things than really anything else. Right. Because we've actually granular prized at assessment now.

So instead of it just being kind of this box of like, well, we do assessment, it's like, well, but are we doing that through gamification? Are we doing that through experiential learning? Are we doing we've, we've kind of now niched that out a little bit more. And I think that's where our platforms necessarily tagging themselves as we're an assessment platform. Probably not. They would say right, we, well, we do reinforcement or we do these kinds of things. So I think it's less of a, we're assessing what we're doing.

And more of that analytics is tripping up and we've niched it out. And then the other one that's surprising. But not that I think we're going to see a big spike in is, is AR and VR. I feel like the hardware now is reaching a point and the mindset is reaching a point where people are starting to get it a little bit more in terms of its capability. So it's not growing like I would expect, but I would guess in the next year or two, we're going to see some, some pretty big stuff pop.

Dani Johnson:

Interesting. I'm going to disagree with you there. We'll see who's right in a year or two. I think it's, I think it's a really good tool in very specific circumstances, but it doesn't have wide application. And so I don't think it will grow probably as much as it's new, it's shiny. It's exciting. It's fun. I don't see the growth there. Part of that is looking at the data from this year to last year, it used to be sort of middle in the pack and it just slowly kind of goes down toward the bottom as these other things become more important.

Christopher Lind:

I think it again, could change that. Okay. Is, so you look at the quest and the quest to now I think Oculus made a huge mistake integrating with Facebook, and I think that's going to make it very hard for enterprises to use it, but HTC and some of the other hardware players, these mobile device now that aren't tethered and things like Facebook horizon and Microsoft, Altspace allowing virtual collaboration spaces.

I think where the VR in the traditional sense of a lot of people thinking like, Oh, Sims, like we're developing Sims that I think, yeah, we'll probably always be pretty niche and in general but you look at some of these hybrid VRS, like, you know, you know, where you're joining a zoom session and interacting with a virtual avatar, that's actually a person behind the scenes or as the hardware's more readily accessible having like a virtual meeting where you're actually bringing people together. I think that's, I'm not saying it's going to spike.

I don't think we're going to see in the next year it's up there with LXPs, but I think this kind of little incremental growth will change.

Dani Johnson:

All right. We'll see. We'll see, we'll do this again in a year. So just a couple of questions before we move off his side. , Stephen Turner asks, can you define project marketplace? Yes, I can. So there's an increasing need by to get work done inside that organization, small tasks or projects and also use those projects and tasks for learning.

So some people call it a project marketplace. I've heard open talent marketplace. I've heard gig internal gig economy. All of these things are where managers can post a project and then individuals can sign up for that project, which is usually not, full-time almost always is not full-time to get some experience, fill out the part of the organization, see if they click with a manager, et cetera, et cetera as a way to learn. So that's what our project marketplaces and we're seeing more and more technology to enable that we're also seeing people build it internally.

But we're talking about vendors here enable them that has the largest percent change. How would you define enablement has a fantastic question. Enablement to some word that I came up with two years ago, cause I didn't know what else to call it, but the example that I use is an Apple watch. So when I moved into this house, I got lost every time I came here.

So I finally plugged in the information on my Apple watch and it just took me here without me ever having to step out and look at a map without me ever having to ask somebody else for direction. And so enablement sort of sits on top of whatever technology you're using or whatever system you're using in your work to guide you along as you're, as you're working.

Christopher Lind:

Wouldn't you say with that one? I think because in that market, I feel like the digital adoption platform is probably one of the biggest contributors to this huge spike

Dani Johnson:

Probably. Yeah, I think, I think it also has to do with integration and, accessibility of data. So as some of these things come together, it's much easier to integrate with things that you're already using for work. And it's automated. You're automatically getting the information you need when you need it versus having to stop and go out and find it. So that's what that one is.

That's how you're categorizing it. That makes sense. What insight areas are you seeing prioritize through analytics? Is the industry focusing on the right things? , that's a good question, Laura. Hi, by the way, it's been a while since we've talked. , I think, what we're seeing is basically what Chris talked about is people need, people need to understand what they're doing for a really long time. Learning has been a black box and they're being asked to provide these insights.

But they also need them in order to improve what they're doing. That's what we're seeing right now. But some of the things that Chris talked about on that, I talked about automating stuff like the curation, which we've already seen, but, but soon, you know, bringing in the performance and those types of things I think will be much more important.

So it's more of a machine rather than a dashboard where you stop and look what it is and make conscious decisions about what you're going to do next. I think there will always be a place for that, but I think the automation of getting information to people is where this is actually going.

Christopher Lind:

I also think the analytics and going back to your point about integration, that's encouraging again, are we doing the right things? Some probably better than others. I think we kind of get stuck in that Stockholm syndrome of L and D a lot, right. Where it's like, well, just keep measuring the things that we've always measured and we don't really step out of it and go, Hey, what if we could measure other things?

And I think that's where the tech is opening a lot of doors where it's like, well, let's step beyond, you know, who completed, what and how much time did they spend in these things and things like that. And I think the talent marketplaces have opened some doors and we're seeing, I'm personally seeing a lot of the silos across learning and talent being broken down, which I think that's extremely helpful because then you start looking at the analytics and you can start to connect to all right.

Christopher Lind:

And the other thing is skills. I think skills moving up the priority list of, Hey, do we actually know that people can do things and tech is now allowing us to see our people performing stuff. We can see that through the work they're doing, we can see it through different technology platforms. So rather than just saying, well, they watched a thing or they passed a test, we can actually start to see, you know, this is what so-and-so's really good at. Yes, they're interested in it, but they're also really good at that. And now as the silos of learning and talent breakdown, we can start to see, okay then based in the organization, where should this person be positioned? Maybe they're not in the right role and things like that.

And I think that's where not, everybody's thinking that way. I think that as an industry is an opportunity for us to push our thinking more in that direction and, and step out of this kind of, well, what are people doing? What do they like? What can we recommend based on the things that they watch? Like that's helpful again, not to throw it out the window. It's helpful stuff. As long as you're, you're taking it beyond that.

Dani Johnson:

Yeah. And I think that's a great point. I hear the Netflix of learning all the time and it drives me crazy because Netflix is, is a step in the right direction. But it's definitely not the be-all end-all you don't want to be the Netflix of learning. You want to go beyond and do some of these things that Christopher Lind's talking about. Okay.

One more slide, just to give you a sense of what's what's going on here. , steady growth in tech use, not surprisingly, especially given COVID. , and there's been a huge uptick in tech use in 2020. So this, we asked vendors, you know, their total nber of customers in the last three years. And you can see a 33% growth rate from 2018 to 2019 and a 48% growth rate from 2019 to 2020.

I'm guessing that's even low because we collected this data three months ago. So everybody is paying attention to learning more. Something happened this year. You know, it's weird thing happened this year feels like I'm going to dig in. I missed something. Yeah. Anyway, so it's growing, it's, it's a good time for vendors, but it's also a good time for organizations to sort of reevaluate what's going on. Especially if they were heavily in-person or ILT. , there are many, many technologies that can replace that, especially given our current current situation.

Christopher Lind:

Well, given the fact too, I think the other thing is it's not, it doesn't look like there's a sign that this like disappearing here in the next month or two or anything like that. And I'm seeing one of the things I think is encouraging. So on the vendor side, obviously, right, this is positive, right? All of a sudden it's not only increased growth of what's out there, but I've seen more innovation in the tech space in the last 12 months because people are being forced to be like, well, we, we, we have to do, we've never thought of even having to do this digitally before and now we have to, we don't have a choice. So I've actually seen the functionality of existing platforms grow, which is exciting, but also things that you went, I didn't think anybody was ever going to prioritize this because it was never a priority.

And now it is, which is actually creating, you know, you look at the virtual event space, you look at virtual anything, right? The capability that people have known, we probably should have added for years, but eh, we're just not going to really do it because nobody cares it does now, which is exciting. And I think for practitioners, we need to capitalize on this because our organizations are S not all, but many are more open to taking risks right now with tech and saying, look, we got a problem, right? In the famous words of vanilla ice. If you got a problem, you'll solve it. Right? Like now's the time to say, let's try something here. Right? We we've got a tech solution. It might work. It might not. We don't know, but we have a problem. Let's give it a shot and see what happens. People right now are way more open to experimenting with this kind of stuff to say, okay, fine. We've got a little budget, let's try it out. Let's see what we can do. And you can know that, Hey, this doesn't have to last 20 years. We don't have to do an enterprise implementation, but, but let's experiment and see what kind of problems we can fix.

Dani Johnson:

Yeah. The other thing that we're seeing and we're going to move on to the questions now is things don't take as long as we think they did. They do. So we talked to organizations that were going to put into a place at like a two year implementation for an LXP COVID happen. And like three weeks later, everybody in the organization was on it. So some of the fear we have about introducing large changes to the organization are on hold right now while, while we're working out this COVID thing. So by all means, as Christopher said, take advantage of, of the chaos and implement some of these things. Okay, we're going to jp to some of the questions that were submitted.

Question: What are some of the trends in learning, and how are they being enabled with tech?

The first one is what are some of the trends in learning, and how are they being enabled with tech. And I want to throw this one to Christopher first.

Christopher Lind:

Yeah. So, you know, I would say one of the things there's, there's probably two that immediately jped to mind and this is where one of them, we don't agree. We kind of agree, but not necessarily right. One is one that I think anybody would say is the age of personalization is at an all time high and it's only going to get better. And when I say personalization, I don't just, Hey, you watch this.

So here's something that we've met at meta-tags that's associate no, like literally understanding what you're doing, where you're spending your time, things like that and saying, this is your job. And I think these things are relevant. And even you look at adaptive tech, knowing based on your personal experience and knowledge, we're going to change the pathways through content based on what you know. So you're not wasting that level of personalization to me is exciting.

Right? This is extremely exciting because we've talked about it for years. We've said, man, wouldn't it be great if we could have like a one-on-one coach with every employee is like, yeah, never going to happen. Well, tech is enabling that because it can do things with the speed and the efficiency that you need to do to reach that level of personalization. So to me, that is massively exciting and it can't be done without tech.

That's the thing. It's not like a, well, we would do it. If we could know you can, you, couldn't not in our weird, crazy global diverse or there's just no way. And so I think that's one of the things that's really exciting. And then the other one, actually, I could probably talk about this for way too long. So I'll just stick with the second one is we are moving into the experience age, right?

And to me, this is extremely exciting where instead of just saying we're, we're presenting content or we're presenting things like that, we can actually say, let's put people in situations. You know, whether it's at work, you know, through things and we can actually track what they're doing and we can enable them through that kind of stuff and get that meaningful data.

But this is where I look at what VR and AR can do if done, right? We can actually say, we want to put you in a situation and see how you perform. Let's create that safe environment where you can make mistakes, you can fail, but you can learn at the same time. And I think that capability, again, you look at some of these specific use cases. You're not going to put somebody in an environment where they could die. If they make a mistake in the digital world, you can.

And I think that ability to learn through experience or send somebody in their first week on the job, out with AR and say, go do the thing, and we're going to walk you through it. We're going to be right there with you, but you can do it instead of having to learn in this kind of insulated environment that doesn't actually replicate it. And again, we're just to me, personalization, we're way far along the experience age, I feel like we're just scratching the surface. But tech now is at a maturity level where there are no rules. There are no, well, we can't. Yes, you can. If you, if you can dream it, you can do it now. And I think it's a matter of actually pushing that.

Dani Johnson:

I think I agree with one and a half of what you just said. I still think that air VR has very specific pieces. I mean, we've seen it used in sort of to help people learn to speak. We've seen it in terms of diversity and inclusion. I think of those are very interesting solutions. , the thing that I'm seeing in the learning space, it just excites me beyond belief is the fact that we're not relying on courses anymore.  well, we're relying on them, but we're not relying on them as much as we have in the past.

So things like the project marketplace, things like a lot of the coaching software that I've seen, things like enablement tools, all of these things are I'm, I'm doing my work and I'm warning and I'm failing and I'm still learning. And so the things that really excited me are those things like the project marketplace, we've seen an explosion in coaching software.

It's ridiculous. I've got over a hundred vendors on my list that say that they do some sort of coaching. And we're going to deep dive that in a research paper later this year, because there are basically three types of coaching software things like enablement.

I'm very excited about these, these things where we're actually taking the learning out of the classroom and bringing it back to more of an apprentice type model to help people learn and get feedback from either the technology like Chris was talking about Christopher was talking about or through nudges to managers who can then provide that feedback. I think it's much more of a han way of learning than focus is huge. For sure. I agree.

Christopher Lind:

That is extremely exciting. And I think that goes back to the personalization piece right? Of like we're actually getting to know people individually and we can support and enable them at a personal level. Right. So, so that's, that's good for business. It's good for people. And that's, I think really exciting that it's like, instead of it being in competition, like, well, there's learning, but we have to choose between bettering our people and sacrificing workplace performance. It's like it's and now better your people and improve workplace performance.

Question: What technologies are seeing wide-spread adoption?

Dani Johnson:

Yeah. No, I absolutely agree with that. Okay. Let's move on to the next question, which is what technologies are currently are. I think that, that shouldn't say you currently seeing the wide or are currently seeing the widest adoption, LMS LXP constantly role libraries, American micro learning, et cetera, for some of that Krista Graham. And I pitched that to you again first.

Christopher Lind:

Oh yeah. I, so it honestly, so I'm going to say, right, this is, this is a constantly moving target and that's where I'm very hesitant to say which ones am I seeing the most adoption? Because it's like even where I'm seeing adoption, then, I'm not seeing adoption. And again, it really, to me, depends on the learning organization and how they're driving things and the dots they're connecting to it. Now that said, I will say kind of the movement of kind of this integration of learning wherever people are, I guess. And so whatever category you want to tag that in is where I'm seeing massive adoption in this kind of moving, learning to where people are. Anything that's doing that in my opinion is getting adoption because it's getting the things they need to justify the expense. Hey, people are using it, they're benefiting from it.

We're getting metrics on this kind of thing. So things that are connected to where people are. And I think that's something I mentioned earlier in terms of big adoption though, that I'm seeing one that I don't think a lot of people are talking about is it's got the word in it, digital adoption platforms. I'm seeing a lot of growth there and adoption of it. Because again, it's, it's this thing that everybody needs, it's putting something right where people are and it's actually enabling performance. So if you wanted to throw DAP on the list, to me, that would be one that I would say I to some degree came out of left field a little bit.

Dani Johnson:

So how many were getting for those on the phone that don't understand what a digital adoption platform is, including myself? Yeah. Can you, can you explain what that is?

Christopher Lind:

Yeah. So going back to your enablement comment before, right.  you know, we, a lot of the work we do sits on systems, right? We do things in systems, we're on a computer. We're trying to do something, whether it's we're in Salesforce or teams or Workday or whatever we're doing. And there's a lot of stuff that you need to know how to do, but you don't do it that frequently. So you don't remember. And it's like, I need to go do a performance review or request. And I don't know where it is in Workday. And I got that e-learning six months ago. I don't remember any of this. What a digital adoption platform is doing is it's sitting on top of that. And when you go in, it's saying, what are you trying to do? I'm trying to do this. And you ask it. I think of, and they hate when I use this analogy.

But you think of Clippy from office back in the nineties that didn't crash your computer, right? It's like, Hey, I'm trying to do this. Can you show me how? And it's just letting you do it as you go. And I think that's when I'm talking digital adoption platform, it's this tech that's specifically designed to sit on top and augment or almost replaced system training to say, let's just enable people that are doing it when they need it. Let's, let's kind of throw out the way we've thought about it before.

Dani Johnson:

Okay. So you're talking like I can't believe I haven't looked into this a little bit, but you're talking like walk me in those types of things

Christopher Lind:

To me, what fix, you know? Yeah. There's, there's a whole sea of them and they've, and now there's more. And I think that goes back to my point of where I've seen enablement. Just, it doesn't surprise me because that type of technology, especially as everybody's now using these tech platforms and they hadn't before, and they don't know what they're doing.

And now you've got entire organizations with service desk calls through the roof, because everybody's asking about these things that they haven't had to use or did very infrequently, or when they did, they just walked over to Danny and said, Hey, Danny, I'm trying to do this. How do I do it? They don't have that anymore. And so that's where I'm seeing that

Dani Johnson:

Category growth. Okay. That's, that's super helpful. We were calling it sort of enablement that that category is we call an enablement. So digital adoption platforms enablement the same thing for the person that asked that question before. I think it was Steven. Yeah.

Christopher Lind:

The point there is more, I way over simplified that category, but just to give a little bit of a flavor of, of what that is,

Question: Which categories are promoting human-centered technologies?

Dani Johnson:

Which vendors are promoting human centered, learning on their technologies. So I'm gonna, I'm gonna say most of them are at least touting it. So in the last six months, particularly we have gone superhuman. I've seen it a huge difference between what happened in 2008 and how we treated employees and what happened this time around in 2020 and how we treat employees. , the human centered nature, as Chris mentioned, we're moving into the experience age.

The human centered nature of technology really does matter. , it used to be all about the backend platform today. It's much more about the front end experience. And so if you're a tech vendor and you're not focusing on centered learning, you're, you're, you're kind of, you're kind of left behind Christopher. What would you guys do?

Christopher Lind:

Yeah, I, I would say many of them are, you know, I, I spend a lot like you, I spend a ton of time talking to tech vendors and I don't really hear any of them go. Yeah, we don't really care about the people. Right. And to some degree, it's, I would say almost in 2020, you don't have a choice if this isn't the focus, you're just not going to make it because the expectation now that we have to focus on people and we have to focus on the workforce and caring for your people is a business strategy.

It's not a nice to have. It's not something that you do to, you know, make it onto the best places to work list. You do it because it's a competitive advantage in that, in a brutal marketplace right now. So I would say a lot of vendors are focusing, you know, more in this space in different capacities.

And I think that's where it's a tough question to just say here, let me list off five that are doing a really good job, because it's like, well, they're all applying this methodology very differently. But I think the point that we're I'm seeing is this human centered design is not just on the learner either.

I guess that's the other thing I'm seeing a massive shift in vendors saying we need to clean up the admin, the backend, the stuff, because if the L & D organization isn't doing well with this, if they're struggling, if this is a nightmare for them, they're not going to adopt it. And if they're not happy, they aren't happy to actually enable the rest of the organization. So that's where I would say a lot of them are, but most were trying their best before. I think they just now have gotten a lot more visibility and insight and feedback because people are using their stuff.

Dani Johnson:

I think it's important to understand that human centered does not mean a better UI doesn't it can be, that can be part of it, the UI. So we've talked to lots of organizations who have sort of humanize their technology. And what they've done is recreated a new interface. That's definitely part of it, but it's thinking through the systems and processes, it's thinking how it's used in the workplace. It's thinking about what it's connected to. It's thinking about what data it brings in what data it spits out. All of those things have to do with sort of the human centered nature.

And I think we're probably, we're not very far in Christopher talked about personalization, or we're definitely getting there, but this han centered part of L and D and especially tech vendors really feeds into that ability to be true personal. And I think there are ways out on it.

Christopher Lind:

And there's, there's some things, right? I won't mention names cause I had to be super, whenever I mentioned a name, then it creates this whole, whole blue, but there are some platforms out there that are focused more on mental health, you know, how are you helping your employees, right? Relax, or, you know, distress, how are you doing things like that?

So I am seeing that category start to grow up. I think that's why coaching platforms are starting to gain more moment is this ability to kind of coach people through difficult situations and actually provide coaching at scale. So I think that to your point, han centered just doesn't mean, Hey, we cleaned up our UI and it looks really pretty. It's really about how are you, you know, better enabling and taking care of, of people on that.

And again, I think we're just scratching the surface and the thing, I just did a talk on this the other day that I think we have to be very mindful of as we do.

This is you look at, you know, everybody, I think by now has seen the social dilemma. I think we run the risk if we're not careful and trying to think of what are we not thinking about as we move into this han centered design and things like that, what problems might we be creating for ourselves in the future?

And I think 2021 good example of this was everybody was all about how do we improve productivity and how do we still get people to stay product productive in 2020 when everything's remote? And we've now opened this risk of like burnout. People are having a hard time because they we've made things so efficient and so good that sometimes people are having negative consequences. So I think as we move into this human centered piece, there is this need to kind of ask the questions of what are we not thinking about?

Christopher Lind:

How could this go wrong if we do it too? Well, if we do it too well, what might we be doing that could be destructive? You know, I just think of like the guy who invented the like button on Facebook, didn't think it would have psychological consequences and results in depression and things like that. So I think again, not to get too doom and gloom, but I think it's something that we have to be thinking about as we start implementing these texts that are really getting to know our workforce are able to engage them in different ways, are able to push them, you know, and can in some ways influence what they're doing and the way they're thinking. I think we just need to be mindful of it from an ethics standpoint.

Dani Johnson:

Absolutely. Especially since we know that government is, is very far behind in sort of regulating some of these, it really does come down to the vendor and their ethics and the organization and how they're using that technology. specially data data is collected maybe sometimes with the best of intentions. , but it will just forever and it can be used very negatively if we're not careful with it.

Question: We hear a lot about zoom fatigue. How is that influencing learning technology?

Dani Johnson:

, kind of speaking of negative consequences, let's answer this question. We hear a lot about zoom fatigue. Are you seeing this influence learning technology? , for me personally in sort of my view of what's going on, not yet. So you have to take is a fairly new, I don't know if we want to call it an illness. Sometimes it feels like an illness. We haven't seen it yet, but I do think it, it very clearly points out some of the problems with maybe the way that we've been training in the past. So sitting in front of a screen all day, pushing buttons, or even, even collaborating, sitting in front of a screen all day can be fairly damaging. Christopher, what have you seen as far as technology goes to?

Christopher Lind:

So here's, here's, here's what I think we can learn from the zoom fatigue thing that we can do to avoid running into this with learning tech. Part of the reason I think zoom fatigue became such a big thing is what we, what, what typically happens, right? We all had to go virtual and instead of taking the time to figure out like how to do it, right, we just dped everything into back-to-back zoom meetings. And we were in back-to-back meetings in person. We hated them then too, but you could tolerate them because you're like, well, we get snacks and I get to hang out and write it. Wasn't all bad.

But now you took, you took out the good stuff and you just left the crap. Right? And so, as a result, the zoom fatigue kicks in. Cause you're like, geez, this is like the worst of everything on steroids now.

And I think the same is true with learning tech. If, if all we're doing is saying, well, we had this classroom stuff, now let's just stuff, all this classroom in these digital platforms. And G now we can reach people so much faster and more efficiently. Let's just tune up the vole 11 degrees, because why not? Yeah.

We're, we're going to run into learning tech fatigue. People are going to say good grief. Like how much stuff do you want me to go through? How much are you going to push at me? I just can't deal with it anymore. But if we're thoughtful and intentional about it and say, wait, rather than just crank up the vole and throw it in digital, let's let's think about this. What do people really need? Let's break it apart. Let's let's chunk things out. Let's separate. It let's use the right tool for the right situation. Then I don't think we will. And I think the same would be true with zoom fatigue. I don't think we'd have zoom fatigue if we didn't do that with, with meetings.

Dani Johnson:

I think that's a really interesting point. I think sometimes when we think about learning and especially what's happened in the last six months, we've thought about putting in fact the first three or four weeks of the pandemic, I got so many questions about, Oh no, I don't even have an LMS.

How do I, how do I, what are LMS? Do I it, Oh, no. How do I put all my ILT online to be, you know, computer-based or web-based training now? , I think that's the wrong question. Because as, as I've sort of alluded to the last two years, learning is expanding.

We're not just talking about things that you sit in front of and absorb. We're not just thinking, we're not just talking about assessments that you take to prove that, you know, something we're talking about doing things on the job. We're talking about conversations, we're talking about all of these things.

Dani Johnson:

And so organizations particular that, that are experiencing zoom fatigue, because there are a lot of meetings and things like that. I would encourage you to sort of break out of what you've traditionally thought of as learning and implement some of these other things. And there are technologies to help with that. We talked about learning,  Mart marketplaces. We talked about project marketplaces. We've talked about enablement tools. We talked about coaching, coaching, softwares, all of these things, eliminate some of, some of the stuff that can be caused by looking at a computer all day long instead of integrating the learning into the workforce.

Christopher Lind:

Well, I think that's what I said earlier. It wasn't just about AR and VR this whole, like, what are you trying to do? Whatever you're trying to do, the answer is you can do it. You can do it now. So if you take that time and that's why throw around the word re-imagine a lot is it's like stop saying, how can we do what we're doing slightly better? Or in this? No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no.

Step back and say, what are we trying to do? What are we trying to do? And if we could do anything, how do we think the best way possible to do it? It doesn't mean you'll always do it that way, but actually go through that exercise. Because if you do that, then you can start to get those capabilities to what we're talking about and say, well, I, I, we would do it like this and we would reach people here.

And this is how we would do it. Great tech now allows you to do that. And I think that's where you can avoid this whole zoom or learning tech fatigue is to actually take that exercise now to Matthew's point, right? What happened happened, because everybody was at a different state of maturity, 20, 20 hit, and was the great equalizer. And it was like, well, guess what? You're not digital. You are today.

And so as a result, yeah, there were a lot of people that had to just play catch up and that's okay. So long as you don't just, okay, we got caught up. Like, let's just call it good and, and hang out because that's where the learning tech fatigue's going to kick in because you have to now at some point, go through that exercise of saying, look, we're, we're back to stable. We're off life support now, how do we, how do we actually improve and enable this in a better way?

Dani Johnson:

Yeah. , the other thing that the tech does, I mean, we should be thinking not what can we replicate that was in person online. We should be talking about what we can do that is completely different than we've been able to do in the past technology. And that's a completely different mindset. And it takes a while to sort of get there. We've seen some really interesting things come out of that. , organizations just being really, really creative about this. We have time for exactly.

Question: What tech is needed to keep pace with learners?

One more question. , especially since Christopher and I are so long-winded we're, we're gonna move to this question right here, which is what are some key technologies needed today to keep pace with learner needs? I'm going to kick that to Christopher as well.

Christopher Lind:

So I feel like this is the wrong question to be asking, right? So if you're, if you're, if you're asking this question, I would say stop. It's just like saying, do we need an outlet XP? Don't ask that question. I would say, step, this is, this is exactly where you can take that step backwards and say, well, don't, don't chase the tech because we're like, Oh, do we need VR? Do we need AI? Do we need a gamification platform? I don't know. I don't know.

What are you trying to do? Take the time to figure that stuff out, because what I can tell you in talking with so many different people from so many different places is there is no universal answer to this and it's not because in an ideal world, we wouldn't want it all like everybody would, but the reality is you have to prioritize.

And so you have to say, where, where are we going to get the biggest lift? And to do that, you first have to say, well, what are the biggest challenges or what are the biggest opportunities where do the biggest holes in our capabilities systems sit, every time I do this, I do a heat map and it's like, you can see, look, you've got 10 platforms that do this. It's green. I don't think you need to focus on that over here, black hole. What can you do to start to get that capability built in? Does it exist in some of this other stuff? Do you need to bring something new in? So to me, I would just say that that would be my answer to this.

Dani Johnson:

Well, I went to this is the last slide kind of to Chris's point, we're not looking for one platform that can do anything or we're not looking for the newest and China's Chinese technology. We're looking at all of the things that we can do. And then we're trying to choose those, those functionalities that are going to best fit with the goals that we have for the organization and the culture that we have ingrained in, in our organization, as far as learning. And just as far as, as, as culture goes.

So when we talk about what we should be looking for, as far as technology, we, we say that we should be enabling six things. We should be enabling employees to plan their, their learning. We should be enabling employees to discover or find what they're looking for. We should be enabling them to conse what they need to conse.

We should be enabling them to experiment, to connect with others, to learn from them and then to which includes some of those things. And so if you go back to this slide right here, when we were talking about all of the different functionalities this one right here, when you, when you sort of aligned them under those six things that we're trying to do, this is kind of how they fall out.

And so, again, like this is the universe of things that you can do, and you should definitely pay attention to trends, things that are going on out there, but you shouldn't dwell on a specific capability or particularly a specific platform. You should be very thoughtful in what you're actually trying to do. What's going to enable you to do that thing the best, and then go after that, to build your, your ecosystem with all of those things in it.

Christopher Lind;

And I would say, wouldn't do in a perfect world. Wouldn't we love to all have all of this. Like, I mean, really, I would love to say, we've got it all. We've got all these things. Boxes are green, but guess what chances are, most organizations are going to struggle to ever get there. And that's okay.

And the reality is these things are going to change. That's the other thing it's like, they're going to, there's going to be new categories and capabilities. We haven't even thought of, we've seen that in the last 12 months. So I think that's where it's like, you just got to back up and say, all right. And there's this visual I think is extremely helpful, Danny, in terms of saying, right, what are you, what are you trying to do? Look at it. What can you not do today? Then start asking the questions. Well, who can do that thing? Who, who has that kid

Dani Johnson:

And who does it in the way that's going to fit best with my organization? That's the other thing like who, whose philosophy do I align with? As far as the vendor goes, that can help me do this the way that it's going to happen best in my organization. We are unfortunately at him and I, we have a hard stop today, but just a couple of things. We've done this research. , if you are not familiar with our learning tech landscape tool, this is what it's going to look like in about two weeks. We have an old version on the site right now that will allow you to go in and put in a vendor's name and pop up what they say they do. , there will be a learning tech landscape report coming out in the next two or three weeks, and then also a supporting infographic. And if you want to be kept up to date on all that stuff, just shoot us a [email protected] and we'll make sure that you get reminders for all of that stuff. I want to take a moment and thank Christopher Linda for joining us today. His insights were super helpful. And I know I learned a lot and I hope we get to do this again. Maybe we should make it a thing every six months we talk about it. Okay,

Christopher Lind:

I'm fine with it. This is fun. This is fun. The barn is officially bread. This

Dani Johnson :

Is what it feels like, Chris, Thank you everybody for joining and for your very intelligent questions in the conversations in the chat we will record this and put it on our website. So feel free to share it with your friends. And we will see you in a couple of weeks for our next month. Thanks a lot.

Christopher Lind;

Sounds good. And thanks for having me.

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dani Johnson

Dani is Co-founder and Principal Analyst for RedThread Research. She has spent the majority of her career writing about, conducting research in, and consulting on human capital practices and technology. Her ideas can be found in publications such as Wall Street Journal, CLO Magazine, HR Magazine, and Employment Relations. Dani holds an MBA and an MS and BS in Mechanical Engineering from BYU.