Originally published on CMSWire
Many organizations overlook one of the most significant ways to improve competitiveness, ramp up performance and sustain growth: continuous, varied and dynamic learning programs for their employees and leadership teams. As mobile has become an important channel for many business activities, it is emerging as a preferred platform for just-in-time learning and knowledge sharing. Mobile platforms are disrupting all kinds of activities and processes, and putting a whole new twist on employee productivity, customer interactions and partner collaborations.
Ubiquitous mobile access in this interconnected world means instant collaboration for company employees anytime anywhere -- but only if companies reduce the obstacles for such collaboration to take place both on mobile and social platforms. Organizations have to make significant internal changes to take advantage of social technologies, collaboration and mobile learning. Policies, processes and "culture" must engender an open environment where employee contributions to knowledge sharing are encouraged and where employees have the tools to quickly find the knowledge they need.
Source: Cisco Consulting Services, 2013
mLearning – The New Kind of eLearning
Most articles that mention eLearning as an aspect of knowledge management, social business, or collaboration usually only show eLearning as a 'check list item', rather than exploring how eLearning can enhance overall corporate collaborative strength and performance improvement for employees. Like other disruptive mobile apps, mLearning has hurled corporate eLearning onto a whole new trajectory.
The mobile ecosystem – devices, carriers, app markets – has become one of the fastest growing technology industries, which means great opportunities for learning accessed through mobile devices. Wearable mobile devices will likely become more prevalent for mLearning, particularly for on-the-spot interactions and collaboration, environmentally interactive sessions, and knowledge searches.
Learning goes mobile (2013)
Mobile devices are being used to:
62% - access learning content to reinforce formal learning
54% - support communication and collaboration
53% - provide an alternative mode of delivery to PC-based learning content
43% - support application of learning back in the workplace
37% - access performance support at the point of need
27% - support generation and sharing of user generated content
Mobile learning isn't just learning dumped into a mobile device. It has become a new world of possibilities for at-your-fingertips knowledge. mLearning usually targets situational or contextual learning, which means the content has to be an exact fit for what is needed in the moment. Experiential m-learning leverages the environment in which the learner exists. mLearning augments employee performance and productivity in very real ways. It is continuous learning that is patterned on the way people work.
The study found that those organizations that are higher performers—defined as companies that increased revenues and improved a majority of their key performance indicators over the previous year—are doing more with mobile learning than organizations in general.
89 percent of (all) respondents whose organizations have been delivering mobile learning for more than two years say mobile video is either very or extremely effective.
Mobile learning can complement more "mainstream" learning services, but also provides an opportunity to transform how learning is done on the job. mLearning has been a major force for breaking learning into bite-size but meaty pieces that can be consumed in 10 minutes or less. Information design for mobile access is the focus, instead of formal course design.
Continuous Learning: Transforming Employee Performance Management
Just as companies must become agile and dynamic in response to constant change – they have to include employees in the preparations as well. To meet ever-present change, continuous learning is essential. The tenets of such continuous learning also must change frequently to stay relevant. Mobile becomes a transformative technology to keep learning relevant and to help employees apply learning and knowledge to daily work.
Traditional employee "performance management" has been broken for some time. This approach has been responsible for driving away employees, stalling contributions to company success, and frequent failures to identify true top performing and innovative employees. Performance appraisal processes have deteriorated into ridiculous busy work that mostly angers and bewilders everyone involved, from employees to managers.
The focus must turn to enabling pathways to improved employee performance through education, development, and mentoring or coaching. This is not a new approach, but an old one that harkens back to when many companies became directly involved in career development for all employees who were willing to do the work for advancement and improvement.
In some ways, employee performance management is akin to customer experience management: companies can't manage the experiences of their customers – but they can manage how they interact with customers in a consistent way with up-to-date intelligence in order to help customers, not hinder them. There's a similar conundrum for "employee performance management". For employees to perform well, companies need to "get out of the way" and provide an environment that encourages career growth and the tools to help employees perform well. This calls for new ways to develop, grow, and proliferate the capabilities of employees.
Empowering Employees with Interconnected Learning Tools
The always-on mobile world of interconnectedness can invigorate opportunities for social collaboration and informal learning. These forms of learning can build up smarter workforces to respond to changing business needs and unexpected circumstances. Mobile enables new modes for searching and collecting information related to job needs. People-to-people communication and sharing improve, which yield upticks in performance and attainment of goals.
Workers are becoming more comfortable with the value of constant collaboration. Currently, 24 percent use mobile collaboration, and an additional 31 percent are interested in adopting it. Some forthcoming mobile enhancements could drive further interest in constant collaboration. These include touching mobile devices to share information (51 percent were interested); finding and connecting relevant subject-matter experts (48 percent); and wirelessly sharing a presentation via a virtual whiteboard (48 percent).
In addition, there is interest in location/recognition-based enhancements, such as GPS navigation and maps for indoor locations (53 percent); having a device provide relevant location-based information (49 percent); and having a device notify a user when an important person enters a location (48 percent).
Winning Companies are Learning Organizations
There are many articles and reports that make clear that the very real value of 'Learning Organizations" results from companies improving employee knowledge and skill expansion, to take on more challenges and proceed successfully through their careers. With mLearning, employees can directly apply knowledge and training to their jobs every day, quickly and effectively.
Learning Organizations are those companies that repeatedly outperform other vendors because of investments made in deep skills and knowledge for employees and leadership. Continuous investment is made in developing staff abilities and knowledge, no matter the economic conditions. As a result, these companies have a more developed level of effective innovation, and are more agile when responding to new opportunities and challenges. Not surprisingly, employee loyalty is much higher because these companies make clear that they believe in their employees and want to help them make a difference for the company.
Customers are the eventual big winners when dealing with Learning Organizations. All company employees are well prepared to take customer interactions to higher levels, as well as provide high quality products and services. Better prepared, engaged and committed employees are invaluable catalysts for propagating exceptional customer experiences.
About the author: Julie Hunt understands the overlap and convergence of many business processes and software solutions that once were thought of as "separate" – and how this impacts software Vendors and Buyers, as well as the strategies that enterprises implement for how technology supports the business and its customers. Julie shares her takes on the software industry via her blog Highly Competitiveand on Twitter: @juliebhunt For more information: Julie Hunt Consulting – Strategies for B2B Software Solutions: Working from the Customer Perspective