Over the last decade, it has become more and more important for organizations to digitally transform their corporate training programs. Surprising almost everyone, the COVID-19 pandemic and its associated quarantine forced knowledge workers around the globe to socially isolate and work from home. This change has made digital transformation even more urgent.

There are several factors causing training organizations to accelerate their digital transformation, notably in the following areas:

    • In order for organizations to implement vital growth strategies, corporate learning programs must evolve.
    • Enhanced automation and artificial intelligence (AI) require, or will soon require, millions of workers to retool their skill set.
    • More people are working remotely, and human resources (HR) departments are realizing the advantages of expanding their pools of potential talent beyond local geographies.

Forward-thinking leaders realize that going back to the old normal is a mistake. They understand that creating a new normal, initiated by the digital transformation of their corporate training programs, is the first step to improving their competitive advantage.

Digital Transformation: The Corporate Training Need of the Hour

Science tells us how people learn, how to build activities accordingly and how to assess their learning. Historically, we have applied that science by making face-to-face synchronous learning environments our go-to training modality. What many knew before 2020, and what others have learned since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, is that it’s not as simple as paying for an online meeting account to transform corporate training programs for an increasingly digitized and virtual corporate work environment. Digital learning, synchronous or asynchronous, is fundamentally different from face-to-face training.

How to Ready Your Organization for a Successful Digital Transformation

Use this six-step guide as you begin the digital transformation of your corporate training programs:

Step 1: Alignment

Learning and development (L&D) professionals often mistakenly begin with choosing a platform. But before thinking of the platform, corporate training leaders should ask:

    • What are the goals of our training programs?
    • How are we measuring the impact of our training programs?
    • What does our company value?
    • How aligned are our learning goals to our corporate performance measures?

The answers to these questions will inform the digital transformation of your corporate learning blueprint.

Step 2: Evaluate and Earn the Endorsement and Active Participation of Your Corporate Leaders

Without key backing from the C-suite, any effort to digitally transform your corporate learning programs will fail. If the chief executive officer and vice presidents aren’t aware of the work you’re doing, your initiative will fail. If the CEO contributes to your digital transformation strategy, on the other hand, the chances of its success will increase. As middle managers take their lead from executives, they’ll execute the strategy.

Step 3: Invest in Creating a Culture of Digital Learning

While having the support and buy-in of the senior leadership team is crucial in kickstarting your digital transformation, you must also invest in change management measures for other key stakeholders, including learners, subject matter experts (SMEs) and trainers. Without these strategies in place, it will be challenging to sustain the momentum and achieve a return on your investment (ROI). Start with awareness campaigns that showcase the value of the transformation and clearly state how it will benefit the organization.

Step 4: Focus on Agility to Handle the Increasing Rate of Change

As you work to digitally transform your corporate training programs, remember that any solution you implement must be agile. Focus on people, culture and tactics.

The rate of change is increasing, and 2020 has so far brought us COVID-19, quarantine and remote work. It’s impossible to predict what will happen next — except that something will happen. Implementing a rigid strategy that doesn’t allow you to make quick course corrections, large or small, is a waste of time.

Step 5: Use an Iterative Approach to Design a Digital Transformation Blueprint

Be willing to admit when your strategy needs to change, and take time for thoughtful consideration of how to change it. Create a pattern of testing and learning, celebrate failures, and learn from other organizations.

Step 6: Invest in Innovative and Immersive Solutions to Design Your Digital Transformation Blueprint

Given the current dynamics, including a changed workplace and predominantly remote learners, create a digital transformation blueprint that can:

    • Adopt predominantly self-paced online learning in the form of mobile learning, including apps.
    • Design mobile learning solutions to be short, bite-sized and action-oriented; adopt microlearning and leverage videos and interactive videos, in particular.
    • Leverage immersive learning modalities such as virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR), gamification, personalized learning journeys, interactive stories, and scenario-based learning. Use them across your virtual instructor-led training (VILT), blended learning or eLearning programs.
    • Identify which classroom programs you need to convert to VILT. During this transition, remember to recast sessions into multiple short sessions (not exceeding 30 to 45 minutes) to maintain remote learners’ attention.
    • Identify which programs require a blended approach combining facilitated VILT and self-paced eLearning. Remember, this exercise will require a reconsideration of digital pedagogy to achieve the same learning goals.
    • Do not limit learning to formal training only. Invest in learning journeys that provide reinforcement, just-in-time learning aids and opportunities for practice.
    • Provide nudges for self-directed learning through recommendations and curated resources.
    • Leverage social learning.

Evaluating corporate goals, including the objectives of the C-suite as well as other stakeholders; using iterative testing cycles; and remaining agile are the keys to an effective digital transformation. Invest in immersive learning strategies that will help you achieve the required gain: sticky learning, better application on the job, performance gain and/or behavioral change.

But look at digital transformation as an ongoing and iterative process; it should become a part of your company’s culture. If you’re successful, you’ll help maintain your company’s competitive edge.