The back office is the new front line of business.
Faced with rising regulation, new technology that makes previously opaque markets transparent, the software geeks are on the rise at Goldman Sachs and other investment banks.
UPS doesn’t just deliver packages in time for holiday gift giving. It’s a 24/7 logistics partner for your business. Amazon isn’t just an online retailer of books, groceries and more. The most profitable part of Jeff Bezos’ empire is its cloud hosting and storage business. Revenue in Amazon Web Services grew 64 percent to $2.56 billion last quarter.
As these examples illustrate, IT, accounting, logistics and, yes, learning, are all central to business. And not just as faceless back office functions dedicated to efficiently carrying out the thankless tasks that keep business humming. In the modern economy, the back office is front and center in the way companies compete.
That’s no surprise to the Chief Learning Officer LearningElite organizations profiled in this issue.
Now in its sixth year, the LearningElite recognizes the best companies for employee learning and development through a rigorous peer-reviewed process that benchmarks companies in five key areas: leadership commitment, learning strategy, execution, learning impact and business performance results.
The 70 organizations, plus four members of the Winners’ Circle, recognized in this issue spent a collective $3.24 billion to deliver learning and development to a staggering 3.8 million people. Those efforts led in part to more than $363 trillion in revenue. And they did it with startling efficiency. LearningElite organizations spent an average of $852 per learner.
That investment was deployed for a startling array of purposes. As Sarah Kimmel, head of Chief Learning Officer’s research and advisory services arm, said at this year’s gala, LearningElite companies make nations safer, save lives, build things, grow food, provide electric power and create hospitality for travelers. They enable people to communicate or manage their finances.
If there’s a common key to success — one magic bullet that makes all future achievement possible — it’s learning.
But I’m biased. We publish this learning-focused magazine every month. Let’s rule you out as well. The fact that you’re reading this immediately disqualifies you as an impartial observer.
Instead, consider how business leaders describe the keys to success today: adaptability and agility, creativity and flexibility, innovation and competition. Our organizations don’t win without the ability to learn. Learning isn’t a back office function. It’s the future.
At Vanguard, this year’s No. 1, employee learning is the core around which the investment fund helps clients achieve their financial goals and dreams. The company’s investment in learning has turned Vanguard into the largest fund firm in the United States, accounting for $1 out of every $2 invested in the U.S.
At Defense Acquisition University, the education arm for the U.S. Department of Defense’s 150,000-strong acquisition workforce, the mission is not just to be efficient stewards of taxpayer dollars. Employee learning is central to the readiness of the nation’s warfighters and the reason it’s No. 2.
At Vi, operator of senior living facilities across the U.S. and No. 3 on this year’s list, learning and development is an essential component to being an employer of choice in an industry prone to turnover.
The story is the same at all the companies in the 2016 LearningElite. There is no single way to succeed in the modern economy. But there is a common approach and learning and development lies at the heart of it.
Hard work. Sustained collaboration. Laser-like precision. Calculated risks. Sometimes it all pays off in success and acclamation. Other times, it goes unnoticed.
When it comes to learning and development, more often than not it’s the latter. That’s not the case this month. In the pages of this magazine, you’ll see the innovative work learning and development leaders are doing — often behind the scenes but at the forefront of business — to make their companies better.