The speed of economic and marketplace change is one of the greatest barriers to effective workforce performance. A concern frequently expressed by CLOs and other C-level executives is that their companies’ missions are changing so rapidly that people can’t keep up with what they need to know to compete and be successful. They also lack support and reinforcement of the behaviors needed to execute new business strategies rapidly and effectively.
A suite of new learning and knowledge management technologies referred to as Learning 2.0 is showing great promise in creating an approach to workforce enablement that is nimble enough to keep up with a rapidly changing business and workplace environment. Learning 2.0 combines innovative approaches and technologies in three areas: Web 2.0 learning, knowledge management and collaboration, and real-time performance support.
Web 2.0 Learning
Web 2.0 learning uses technologies such as podcasting, social networking and instant messaging to deliver just-in-time, point-of-need, bite-sized learning experiences. The learning can be delivered through the user’s device of choice, such as a PC, smart phone or MP3 player. With no lengthy course-development cycles, relevant content and training gets to workers faster and at less cost to the company than purchasing courses or developing them on a custom basis.
Knowledge Management and Collaboration
The field of knowledge management continues to redefine what enterprise learning really means and how it can be harnessed and directed to maintain strategic agility. By facilitating interaction with peers and on-the-job experience, knowledge management solutions help companies deploy an important filter: information, tactics and behaviors that have proven successful in an actual performance environment.
Real-Time Performance Support
Performance support tools are another way to maintain strategic agility by helping people perform their jobs in new ways to support changes in business strategy. With applications we call “performance workspaces,” tools exist to create comprehensive solutions that deliver a workforce-centric, role-based desktop environment. This is comprised of the knowledge content, legacy applications, productivity tools, learning, collaboration and expert network capabilities that enable workers to perform effectively and to alter that performance rapidly in response to changing work environments.
Putting It Together: The Microsoft Mobile Academy
One solution that brings together a number of Learning 2.0 principles is the Microsoft Mobile Academy that uses the company’s new Podcasting Kit for SharePoint. The Academy helps Microsoft’s salespeople get up to speed on particular products and solutions so they can capitalize on an immediate customer opportunity. The Academy provides information that is always fresh: the latest information about Microsoft products married with the latest and most successful sales techniques. Content comes directly from product experts and salespeople, and also can be harvested from conference calls, presentations and third-party vendors. Then it can be turned into short deliverables such as podcasts and videocasts.
Microsoft has an internal user base of 22,000 for the Academy and has opened it up to 5,000 partners in its distribution network. This user base generates more than 500 podcasts per month, and these have significantly increased the sales force’s knowledge about products, competitors and best practices. The Academy also gives the field a communications channel for immediate feedback to sales, product and learning leadership.
This solution, and others like it, is evidence that leading organizations are growing increasingly comfortable with moving more of the responsibility for learning to the workforce itself. Keeping an organization strategically agile means helping people access the knowledge and experience that is always around them.