The 2021 spring Training Industry Conference and Expo (TICE) looked very different than it had in previous years. When the original in-person conference plans for 2020 were turned upside down, Training Industry had to do the same thing many conferences and organizations had to do that year: adapt. Convention halls and in-person presentations were replaced with video teleconferencing sessions through which industry experts hosted product demos and presentations on the training challenges facing organizations today.
Each presenter had a unique perspective on the problems and solutions training professionals face in 2021 and beyond. However, as the conference progressed five key themes stood out as overarching takeaways that anyone invested in learning can benefit from.
- Digital transformation is here to stay.
Digital transformation is the process of integrating digital technologies into all areas of your business. Although many organizations were making this evolution prior to 2020, being forced to enable a remote workforce shifted these processes into overdrive. Many organizations have seen increased efficiency and productivity as a result and remote, digital interactions have come to replace many former workplace practices. Training must also evolve to meet the new expectations of modern learners. This means investing in virtual and e-learning programs that enhance learning by being attuned to learner needs.
- Training programs must be flexible and customizable.
The organizations that continued training throughout 2020 and into 2021 attended a training experience that was very different from the tried and true in-person, instructor-led training. Many learners had their first experiences with e-learning and virtual, instructor-led classrooms and their first experience of the benefits associated with remote learning. Shorter time commitments, lower costs and more flexible scheduling are just some of the drivers behind organizations seeking out training that can be customized to their needs. As we leave behind one-size-fits-all courses, this serves as a reminder that training programs should be flexible in meeting learners where they are at. At its core, training should be human-centered and consider the experiences and skillsets of the learners. Integrating that knowledge is key to enabling success in training.
- Sustainable content relies on organizational alignment.
In the modern, digital workforce learners expect just-in-time content on demand. This presents a challenge for organizations as rapidly evolving technology and constantly changing social and global demands require frequent re-evaluation of their training suite. In some cases, this may mean a shorter lifespan for courses as technology becomes out-of-date or the content loses relevancy. However, by customizing content to match organizational strategy and emergent market demand, businesses can offer training that remains actionable and relevant throughout external change.
- New technologies offer new opportunities in training
Technologies such as virtual reality, high-quality mobile games and artificial intelligence have been around for years. However, cost of development, technical skill necessary for development and the difficulties in deployment made emergent technologies an inaccessible training method for most organizations, but that is beginning to change. As these training methods become more cost effective, many organizations are adding highly engaging, innovative content to their training offerings. This includes virtual reality experiences that give learners the opportunity to practice hands-on medical processes, artificial intelligence that simulates a customer interaction with a learner, and platform simulators that allow learners to practice transactions on new software. This is just the beginning of how new technology will be used in training to create unique, unforgettable learning experiences.
- Building an equitable workforce is an ongoing process
Diversity and inclusion came to the forefront for many organizations over the past year with particular focus on eliminating racial bias. Businesses took a new look at equity in their workplace and started initiatives, began difficult conversations and found ways to champion inclusion through training and development. The work is far from done on this front though. Ensuring an equitable workforce is an ongoing process making changes, hearing feedback and re-evaluating. Of course, creating an equitable workplace goes beyond training, it goes to the core of a company’s values. However, training companies can support and break initiatives down into manageable pieces.
There was far more to learn at TICE 2021 than can be summarized in a single blog post but keeping these five key learnings in mind in planning for the future of learning and development at your organization invest in training that is relevant, engaging and enables learner success whenever and wherever they need it.