Let’s examine some of the high-level business benefits you should be considering for your mobile learning initiative.
- Increased Productivity
- Increased Sales
- Increased Accuracy
- Increased Connectivity
- Improved Communication
- Improved Attention to Detail
- Decreased Mistakes
- Decreased Defects
- Reduced Accidents
- Reduced Safety Incidents
- Reduced Risk
- Reduced Overall Cost of Learning
- Measurable return on investment (ROI)
- Increasing your overall activity levels by completing tasks done while on the go
- Accessing just-in-time information when it is needed
- Having easy access to colleagues and your personal learning network anywhere
Whew! Quite a list, right? Some are more provocative than others, no doubt. However, as someone who has to account for the value of the content you bring to your organization, if you could only accomplish even a third of these benefits on a routine project, I’m sure that you would have no problem getting management to sign off on any effort you led.
It’s plain to see that virtually all these factors lead directly to a measurable, bottom-line result. These are the kinds of things that you can print on a report and take to your management team so they will get behind your plan. You’ll know you’ve succeeded because your learners will have succeeded. This is powerful stuff.
Let’s take a look at the details for just a moment, shall we?
Right off the bat, I mentioned increased productivity. Sure, that’s an easy one. If you could put the right information in the right hands of the right person at the right time, wouldn’t you be virtually assured that productivity has increased? It’s possible to both create and show this with proper design, curation, deployment and measurement.
What about those increased sales? This is also easy to see. If your salespeople had a direct conduit to the latest competitive information bulletins right at their fingertips, the most pertinent details from the company’s cavernous customer relationship management system, the very nuances of the objection the current customer is raising, wouldn’t you be able to sell just about anything to your audience? Most likely, yes. If not, well, that’s a different story.
And for increased accuracy? Check. No more guesses. A quick search of the company’s mobile-friendly wiki makes the employee the smartest person in the room by knowing last quarter’s numbers.
As far as connectivity goes, these devices were made for talking to other people. The very fabric of their existence is hinged around being able to connect people with the information and contacts that are needed at any given time. Most of us are always just a swipe or click away from the information you need, so long as your content creators have made it available for mobile.
With connectivity comes communication. When there is no problem connecting with the content, and the device is in your hand to reach the source of that content or other subject matter experts (SME) in your personal learning network (PLN), why wouldn’t you phone a friend? It makes perfect sense.
In my experience, co-workers who talk together produce together. Colocation and improved attention to detail become a big deal when working on highly technical, difficult work. Certainly, ahead-of-time learning is important for this, but when your technician can access a manual for a piece of equipment without returning to the truck, or a fellow coworker forgets the sequence for an intricate testing process on the scene, what are you to do? Without the just-in-time delivery of this information, the work might go undone, or—maybe worse—it might be done incorrectly.
A decrease in mistakes is almost certain with mobile learning used this way. Imagine this: Several months ago, one of your employees worked her way through an eLearning module you created. But how can that employee access that same material on a smartphone or a tablet in a time of need? With mobile-ready content, that employee can always go back and refer to the important points of that training without having to sit through the entire module again. Curate, repackage and deploy, and see the number of recalls and elevated tech calls plummet.
Decreased defects would be great, right? Who wants to have to return to a recently implemented job simply to rework or replace a busted part or ruined piece? This sort of waste can be costly in terms of time, equipment, and logistics. With tools such as augmented reality or QR codes you can know that the right part is being used at the right time with near 100-percent certainty.
Beyond hardware issues, there is a human factor that is an important consideration. When you get a call from a dissatisfied customer because something has gone wrong, your customer service reps often have to save face by either calling up a tech to fix things or shipping a replacement item. If you could augment your pick and pack lines via mobile job aids or help your delivery staff stop accidentally shipping the wrong part to the destination by having up to date information available for them, you have just reduced waste.
If you ask any company with a mobile workforce what their number-one priority is, it will inevitably be safety (perhaps after some thought and maybe a little prodding), as accidents can result in loss of time on the job due to injury. The cascading changes in people’s lives due to disability and the long-term effects thereof – not to mention accidental death—can be avoided. Putting correct information in a person’s hand about changing job conditions, a safety breach or other severe danger perhaps may be the only way to prevent a catastrophe.
With reduced safety issues and accidents, your company’s overall risk profile is reduced. This is a number any accountant, actuary or, bean counter could love. It could be a trivial thing to fix, but it could also have a significant financial impact. Now, that is power!
Editor’s note: This article is excerpted from Learning Everywhere: How Mobile Content Strategies Are Transforming Training (ASTD Press, 2012), which provides a comprehensive look at mobile learning, from strategy to design, to development, delivery, and beyond.