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Three Questions to Help You Assess Your Learning Technology Vendor

With constantly evolving technology, staying current with the direction and trends of the human capital industry is a full-time job — and a crucial one. The widening skills gap and retention as one of the largest pain points for businesses means learning and development strategies are not only emerging as a clear solution but a benefit many younger workers have come to expect.

But where do you begin when it comes to assessing a learning technology vendor? It starts with paying attention, doing a little homework, and asking the right questions. Luckily for you, we have a head start on all three, especially when it comes to the questions to ask and trends to be following.

We know a few things about this stuff and we have some thoughts. But if you don’t want to hear it from us, we’ve gathered some insight from Dani Johnson, co-founder and principal analyst for RedThread Research. Here are three trends developing in 2019 as well as three questions to help you assess a learning vendor.

Three Trends in Learning and Development for 2019

Prioritizing skills over roles. For years, CEOs and HR professionals have thought of their workforces “in terms of roles when they should be thinking about them in terms of skills and teams,” says Johnson. To more efficiently grow and utilize talent, leaders should instead shift to a more fluid mindset of sharing skills and learning from one another. There likely won’t be a perfect “unicorn” candidate, so don’t hold out for one. Allow your workforce to grow and work together to bridge gaps.

User Experience. It’s pointless to implement and finance a learning strategy that employees don’t utilize, which is why it’s advantageous to focus on vendors that provide a good user experience. Just as importantly, new trends in data and AI offer more information on individual employees, which can be shared more often with the individuals instead of solely kept at higher levels. Overall, along with the more comprehensive experiential learning, we’re seeing more transparency, improved user experience for employees and administrators, and better utilization of this data.

Ecosystems. Whereas learning was once thought of as linear, we now know that typically isn’t accurate. Instead, companies are beginning to recognize that learning happens within ecosystems, meaning learning is fostered through a combination of processing, socialization, experimenting, listening, interacting, and recycling materials. This offers a more comprehensive style of learning that is incremental, perpetual, and collaborative.

Three Questions to Help You Assess a Tech Vendor

There are a lot of ways to incorporate the above ideas into a learning platform at your company. So, how can you assess which vendor is right for you and your employees?

Dani Johnson boils it down to three questions to ask the vendors you’re considering:

  1. “How are you staying on the cutting edge of technology?” One crucial indicator of whether the vendor will stay ahead of industry is an investment in their technology. Ask how the technology is future-proof.
  2. “How will you collaborate with our team?” Collaboration shouldn’t end with implementation; it should be a partnership to help guide, challenge, and contribute to your team. Ask for specifics about customer support, implementation, and user guidance.
  3. “How do you fit into our larger tech ecosystem?” True integration means minimal disruption to your current processes-- and that’s key.

As our CEO Chris McCarthy put it, “The enterprise human capital market is now prioritizing employees above all else, which means companies no longer have to choose between being enterprise-class or consumer-grade. It is possible to offer employees an engaging experience that puts the user at the center through a platform that scales to an enterprise level.” These three questions will help you find the perfect fit.

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