A Digital Transformation Mindset for Your Learning Ecosystem
Here we look at the reality of what a digital transformation mindset is within an organisation and how your learning ecosystem is not just an aspect of it, but how it should be the central hub for change.
First of all, we need to clear up a myth. Digital Transformation is NOT about adding technology. It’s about cultural change across an organisation and a fundamental shift in how business is done.
Much like a hammer does not build a house - it’s simply a tool - technology does not make a digital transformation. If you want to take your organisation through a digital transformation programme, you need to shift how your managers and employees think and talk about work.
A digital-led organisation is one looking to find new levels of efficiency, profitability and future-proofing by being open to and adopting technologies that can make these happen. It’s a programme that is initially top-down but that requires buy-in at all levels and that has the goal of empowering employees and customers, so that the implementation is bottom-up.
Prominent IT industry expert Brian Solis defines digital transformation as:
“The realignment of or investment in new technology, business models, and processes to drive value for customers and employees and more effectively compete in an ever-changing digital economy.”
Because digital transformation is a mindset not confined to tech, it is relevant to any sector - even those seen as traditional and steady, such as Law and Accountancy. In fact, it is those sectors that are traditionally slow-moving and that are seen to play it safe where there is often most to gain. Digital transformation can be a powerful competitive advantage where you can leap ahead.
The components of digital transformation
For a large organisation looking at cultural change, where to start can be an overwhelming prospect. It’s important to achieve consensus among your leadership team. Like most IT projects that fail, the issue is rarely down to the technology but rather the communication and implementation process - the resistance that comes from new systems being forced upon a team that was not fully bought-in.
Back in 2018, Forbes estimated that $1.3 Trillion was spent on digital transformation initiatives, with 70% ($900 Billion) of that budget wasted.
Since then, business leaders have become increasingly aware that not what you implement but how you implement it is key to success.
Global technology giant Hitachi break digital transformation down into 6 key components:
- Infrastructure Modernisation
- Operational Excellence
- Information and Insights
By keeping these 6 areas front of mind, you can help to ensure that your ideas for digital transformation amount to much more than buying the latest hardware and software - they’re about broader business goals.
The successful Olympic British Rowing team of the early 2000’s had the mantra:
“Will it make the boat go faster?”
When looking at digital projects, every stakeholder should be asking similar questions: “Will this improve collaboration?”, “Will this increase operational excellence?” etc. But you should also ask questions at the implementation stage, such as “Are we ensuring collaboration, operational excellence etc” before, during and after the roll out of new digital systems.
The Role of your Learning Ecosystem in Digital Transformation
When you think of Learning within the context of Digital Transformation, you might think put the face to face training online right? Use elearning instead of traditional training…
Well, going from face to face to elearning is part of a digital transformation yes, and many organisations were forced to accelerate this process in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic during 2020 and 2021 in particular.
However, the most powerful contribution that elearning can make within Digital Transformation is in creating the central hub where every area of an organisation can learn about the programme, how it affects their team and their role, and access the latest information about progress.
What is the Learning Ecosystem?
The word ecosystem comes from biology and refers to a specific geography and the complex interactions of all the living things (from large animals to plants and microscopic organisms) between each other and their environment.
Therefore, a learning ecosystem refers to the components of People, Technology, Tools (including Data), Systems and Culture that affect Learning. Some definitions include Strategy as one of the components. However, if you are going to proactively create a learning ecosystem then the Strategy should sit above it and contain your guiding principles. It should define how you are going to create and shape the learning ecosystem.
A learning ecosystem will involve the L&D team of course, the Learning Suite (an LMS, LXP or even better - an integrated solution), and the way data on elearning is collected, processed and shared. Crucially, a learning ecosystem will every learner (ie every person) across the organisation and the collective attitude towards learning.
A digital learning ecosystem, if created and managed well, can embody the entire digital transformation. It involves using a digital-first approach to every aspect of learning and knowledge sharing.
At the centre of this digital learning ecosystem is the learning platform or ‘learning suite’ - the main L&D toolkit for managing and rolling out learning to every member of the organisation.
A modern, branded, engaging Learning Suite will perform two major functions:
Push training out
Push training out to relevant parties as and when required at the time and speed of need. This is a common learning management system (LMS) functionality. It allows HR, L&D and other business leaders sight of training progress so that they can ensure their teams are up to speed with new systems and organisational processes.
Pull employees in
Pull employees into the digital transformation programme by being home to all the current thinking, planning and progress information. Done well, there will be background documents, company vision videos from leaders, cross-departmental data and more.
By making such information available 24/7, every employee can feel that they are on the digital transformation journey with the company, and that there is greater transparency than being told about a programme by email or a one-off memo.
Benefits of a Digital Learning Ecosystem
A great learning ecosystem will be much more than where you go to complete training when you are told to. It will be where employees and managers can go to learn about what their peers are doing in other departments and share ideas, fostering greater team spirit.
Ideas can be shared and found, leading to experience being harnessed and retained, even when talent inevitably leaves from time to time.
Such knowledge sharing can be a powerful tool in ensuring operational excellence, being a meeting place for collaboration and uncovering useful information and insights.
Rather than digital projects happening in silos, signposting them within your learning ecosystem will provide data and insights that enable other teams to learn about what has worked (or not) within the organisation, where integrations may be possible, and where people can communicate and help each other.
Peter Drucker suggested that the greatest contribution of management in the 20th Century was the 50-fold increase in productivity among manual workers through managerial practices.
The term ‘digital transformation’ took hold around 2013-14 and although many companies have experienced hiccups and stumbles, it could well have similar impact in the 21st Century. In the knowledge economy, companies who do digital transformation well could bring massive increases in productivity among their knowledge workers.
By placing a well thought-through Learning Ecosystem at its heart, your Digital Transformation could be designed, developed, implemented and leveraged to make your organisation a 21st century leader.
Learning culture nourishes learning ecosystem
“No appointments today – I’m learning.” Is it possible to write that without earning funny looks? Making it possible is a key task for modern companies. Learning and professional development must lose the “necessary evil” or “seminar as a benefit” labels and be anchored as a vital component of corporate culture.
Learning ecosystem: A universe of Learning
To successfully establish a Learning Ecosystem wthin a company-wide LMS, the technical requirements must be right. We reveal which stumbling blocks you better avoid and how employees can be optimally integrated.