How to invest in learning technologies as recession looms

In normal times, risk management is a top priority for every company. But we are not living in typical times: with rising inflation, an active war, and ongoing labor and supply issues threatening the bottom line of many businesses, uncertainty has become the new normal. And in an uncertain environment, adaptability to change has become the number one strategic imperative.

How do companies know how adaptable they are? And with budget season and a looming recession on the horizon, how can organizations be sure they’re investing in processes and systems that keep them as agile and adaptable as possible?

A company’s ability to adapt to changing times depends on the skills and development of its employees. The data that relates to these skills – and informs management about how adaptable the organization is – resides in the Learning and Development department.

Every company wants to know that their L&D programs and technology investments are delivering the maximum return to keep the organization agile. However, many organizations struggle to match their investment in learning with tangible results.

In my work helping companies optimize their L&D programs – and use their data for decision making – I have identified five key indicators that show if a company is truly resilient and adaptable to change.

The indicators

The data a company has about its workforce is arguably the most important information it has. These indicators tell me if a company can use this information to stay ahead of the rapid pace of change:

Data quality: The trustworthiness of L&D data is essential, but many companies don’t know how to determine the quality of their data. In general, storing L&D data in multiple separate data silos is of limited use. If teams outside of the L&D department are struggling to access and use data, then its quality can and should be improved.

data flow: In addition to how data is stored, I look at how different teams access and use data. If a company still relies on spreadsheets as its primary data analysis tool, it’s a sign of a lack of data flow. An organization that is fluent in data can easily pull actionable insights from information masses and quickly prepare for an audit that is impossible with spreadsheets alone.

Source usage: How well are L&D departments using and optimizing resources? Many L&D teams still over-rely on manual work, which is both error-prone and labor-intensive. Automating learning and an organization’s entire data architecture means removing enormous barriers to growth and change.

Business Intelligence: Investing in learning should result in a clear ROI for a business. However, if the ROI is difficult to determine, then the company’s data infrastructure is missing. When L&D data is connected to other departments instead of being in a separate database, the ROI is easy to see.

Agility and resilience: A sign that an organization may not be as agile as it needs to be when its learning technology consists of a set of use case-specific point solutions. Learning technology connected to other IT systems, part of a robust data infrastructure, indicates a company that can quickly turn and adapt to change.

Show real ROI

Some organizations can clearly see the ROI of their investments in learning technology, while other organizations struggle. Those struggling can use specific prescriptive analysis to identify gaps in their learning technology strategy, as my company recommends using a Scalability Index Assessment.

Here are some quick tips to help any organization implement an effective learning technology strategy:

  • Streamline training reports, automate communication with shareholders and use custom reports to show learning effects across departments.
  • Improve the team’s data literacy as this is a critical skill for modern L&D functions but is often poorly developed across the organization.
  • Automate some learning—many teams don’t fully leverage their existing technology, leaving areas of easy improvement hidden from view.
  • Identify the characteristics of highly resilient L&D software and explore how a unified technology stack provides additional resilience.
  • Understand how learning can improve data accuracy – the daily tasks that drive your training operations can be used to improve the accuracy of the training data you collect and analyze.

With uncertainty quickly becoming the new normal, it is vital for organizations to be able to adapt to change. Education and training of employees are essential. Until companies make L&D data part of a robust data architecture, they won’t know how to change it.

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