Spending on Corporate Training Soars: Employee Capabilities Now A Priority

The economic recovery is clearly here: spending on corporate training is soaring.

We just completed our 2014 Corporate Learning Factbook and the research is striking: US spending on corporate training grew by 15% last year (the highest growth rate in seven years) to over $70 Billion in the US and over $130 Billion worldwide. (Download executive summary here.)

This tremendous increase follows two years of accelerated spending in this area (10% in 2011 and 12% in 2012), illustrating how companies see tremendous skills gaps as we recover from the recession.

Corporate training is always a very good indicator of economic activity: when companies slow down they often cut training spending, and then as business grows they ramp back up to train new hires, sales people, and leaders. This is among the most discretionary of all corporate spending areas, so it is an excellent bellweather for business confidence.

Spending on Corporate Training

Why the rapid growth? All our research tells us that organizations today suffer from a “skills supply chain” challenge. Not only do more than 70% of organizations cite “capability gaps” as one of their top five challenges, but many companies also tell us that it takes 3-5 years to take a seasoned professional and make them fully productive.

And the skills challenge is huge. Recent research shows, for example, that the Oil and Gas industry needs 60,000 petrochemical engineers by 2016 yet only 1300 graduate from US schools each year. This means that oil companies have to train, retrain, and jointly educate a lot of energy engineers to grow.

A few key facts about L&D spending:

Spending on leadership development remains very high. As in prior years the research shows that the #1 areas of spending is management and leadership (35%). All our research on corporate talent shows that global leadership gaps continue to be the most pressing issues on the minds of business and HR leaders. As Millennials take on more responsibility, companies need to build leadership skills at all levels and in all geographies around the world. (Read more at: Millennials Will Soon Rule the World.)
High-performing companies spend more. Companies which fall into our “high-impact” categories spend significantly more on training than average. So companies who invest in a total L&D strategy spend more per employee than those who are inconsistent. This shows that L&D spending pays off.
Technology is revolutionizing this market. The research shows an explosive growth in technology tools to train people today. Self-authored video, online communication channels, virtual learning, and MOOCs (Coursera, Udacity, Udemy, edX, …) are all growing rapidly as training tools. People still need formal classroom education, but this is now less than half the total “hours” people consume in training around the world. And among the highly advanced companies, as much as 18% of all training is now delivered through mobile devices.

We see significant growth in new virtual learning environments: companies like GE, Motorola, Philips , and others are extending their training budget to reach 2-3 times the audience through the use of easy to use training portals and virtual learning experiences. While most big companies still have a lot of work rationalizing their training spend, the adoption of technology in training has accelerated.

The Learning Management Systems market is also growing rapidly. We estimate that the market for learning management systems is now over $2 billion and continues to be one of the fastest segments of HR software. Every major HR technology vendor is investing in its LMS offerings.

MOOCs are also likely to radically impact corporate training, as branded universities put more and more courses online. (read The MOOC Marketplace Takes Off for more information.)

This is exciting news. While skills gaps (we call it the “supply chain of skills”) continue to challenge companies, an increased investment in training is good for everyone: employees, businesses, and job seekers. This level of increase shows that businesses are aggressively expanding and companies need skilled workers to grow.

Despite a tightening labor market for skills, this data predicts a good year ahead.

For more information about corporate training: www.eFOURlearning.com

Originally posted by Josh Bersin; FORBES ON-LINE…


Listening Makes Technology (and Stuff) Work

2014-04-November-Listen.jpg  Meg Bear, group vice president of Oracle Social Cloud, uses an interesting term when she discusses the role of listening in the customer relationship: humility. That doesn’t come up often when discussing enterprise software, but Bear stands behind it as being a catalyst for a customer-centric business.

“Customers are trying to tell you what they want — they’re giving you breadcrumbs. With humility and listening, you’ll be on to the right thing,” said Bear during a presentation at last month’s Pivotcon.

Humility wasn’t the only quality Bear mentioned. Respect also made an appearance. As did authenticity. What Bear is looking at is a change in mindset, that requires businesses to open up to hearing what may not be the message they want to promote, to listening to the themes and topics that arise in their customer’s (and would be customers) conversations in social forums, and then being open and ready to make changes based on this listening.

It Comes Down to Preparation

Of course it takes more than using these “soft” skills to make a social strategy work. For Phil Colley, social media strategist at General Motors, it comes down to three factors: structure, organization and tools.

Having the structure in place means that Colley and his colleagues are prepared in times of crisis. GM has been no stranger to crisis. When it issued a recall almost nine months ago due to faulty ignition switches, GM’s social channels played a large part in handling customer concerns, questions and complaints. The existence of a three pronged process meant the difference between ramping up and acting versus scrambling to put new processes in place. The process listed clear priorities: informing customers, connecting customers to the right division and keeping GM dealers up to date through digital toolkits.

Colley gives credit to social’s support and integration throughout the company: “everybody touches social.” The company witnessed early on the power of social to connect with its audience, with the publication of its FastLane blog in 2005. With the success of the blog, every brand created its own social channel, its own blog. Social grew organically throughout the company, but it also grew out of control. A governance plan was set in place to aid in alignment.

Alignment was also needed in the technology realm. Before General Motors became an Oracle Social Cloud client, it had “125 different tools, none of them talking to each other, none of them talking to the CRM,” said Colley. The move to the Social Cloud allowed Colley “to focus on what he needed to be focusing on” and opened up an internal social channel for employees to discuss solutions for customers.

Differentiate Yourself

Colley’s assessment of the automobile landscape would probably be unheard of 15 years ago. “The vehicles from every auto maker are very good across the industry.” And yet this sentiment comes up more and more often, no matter what the industry. Businesses are no longer competing on the basis of their products — the differentiating factor comes down to the relationships with the customer.

Bear shares an example of how social listening — combined with the openness to use that input to provoke change — can deliver for customers and companies. A community manager at children’s toy maker LeapFrog started noticing customer comments on a discontinued line of alphabet refrigerator magnets. People missed them, discussed past experiences buying them for a niece or nephew and in general asked “why did you ditch this product?” The community manager brought these conversations from the social channels to product. The company reissued the toy.

For those still struggling for the hard return on social efforts, Bear made it clear that social should not be seen as a standalone item, “Social is an enablement tool for your broader customer goals. They’re tied to KPIs, they’re tied to broader strategic goals.” What businesses need to do when trying to assess the ROI question is ask, “What is our investment in the customer experience and how is that impacting the bigger strategic picture?”

About That Technology and Stuff

Last week Rikk Wilde, regional zone manager for General Motors in the Kansas City area, was tapped to present San Francisco Giants pitched Madison Bumgarner, MVP of the World Series, with a new Chevy truck. When it came time to hand over the keys to the truck, Wilde froze. Index cards in hand, Wilde ad libbed to describe the truck’s capabilities as “technology and stuff.”

PR gaffe? It looked at first like it might be.

But after a few hours, the tide turned. GM noticed the hashtag #technologyandstuff and #chevyguy taking off on social channels as people came out in support of Wilde. We’ve all been nervous before a presentation, but not many of us have those nerves caught before a televised audience estimated at 23.5 million people. The company ran with it, overdubbing commercials with “technology and stuff,” and adding it to the Chevrolet.com homepage.

Sometimes humility means being able to have a little fun, even at your own expense.

For more information contact: www.eFOURlearning.com

Originally published b

Want Better Customer Service? Engage Your Employees

A new whitepaper from enterprise research firm Aberdeen Group finds that contact centers with higher levels of customer satisfaction and worker performance are more likely to use engagement tools such as surveys, eLearning tools, and attendance management. The report, which outlines how contact center workforce optimization (WFO) can enhance the performance of employees, makes the case for a number of engagement strategies for these specific types of workers.
The study points out that the priorities of contact center WFO has changed in just the past two years as businesses work to provide better service while managing unpredictable levels of customer traffic. In a May 2014 survey of 83 companies, Aberdeen found that the top goal was “Improve the quality of customer interaction,” which was selected by 59 percent of respondents. This was a sizable increase compared to a similar survey in 2012, in which just 32 percent cited that as a top objective. The opposite dynamic can be seen on the goal of “Improve forecast accuracy in predicting call volumes” where just 19 percent pointed to it this year, while more than double that (43 percent) had cited it as a top priority in 2012.
To help tackle these priorities, the report contrasts the engagement tools used by top-performing companies (“Leaders”) and those of lagging “Followers.” The findings reflect that strong-performing companies are much more likely to adopt a number of engagement efforts. For example, while 75 percent of Leaders use employee engagement surveys to assess worker satisfaction, just 44 percent of Followers do the same. Likewise, while 70 percent of top companies use eLearning tools to help train their employees, that is true of just 49 percent of Follower companies.
“Contact center WFO programs today are about more than just scheduling the right amount of agents and matching customer issues with agent skills,” concluded Omer Minkara, senior research analyst for Aberdeen Group and the author of the report. “While those are still important to create a top-notch WFO program, the leading contact centers build their efforts around improving the customer experience across every touch point.”
The complete whitepaper can be downloaded for free here.
Originally posted By Alex Palmer:  incentivemag.com

The Direct Path to Training ROI

Your staff needs training in a particular area, so you do some research to find a course. You send your staff to the training and they come back enthused, assuring you that the class was enjoyable and that they were able to hone their skills through what they learned. The team has been trained, which results in increased productivity.

Does this scene sound familiar?

The unfortunate truth is that this is an all-too-common scenario plaguing many companies today. This is the typical approach many managers and companies adopt when it comes to training — identifying a skill deficiency, finding a course with the right learning objectives, sending the staff to take the course, and assuming everything is now corrected and on track.


In order to improve this practice, here are five steps in helping an organization successfully design and implement a training program delivering positive results:

1) Assessing real business needs:

The first step is determining precisely what gaps exist between the desired outcomes and the current state. Gaps can be determined by assessing the employees’ existing skill set and by analyzing the organizational practices that drive or impede new ways of doing things.

You can then review the existing training curriculum to measure the extent to which it delivers the necessary skills, knowledge and attitudes. Use this information to establish a baseline of today’s performance and identify the proper solutions.

Finally, consider selecting Key Performance Indicators that you would like to affect and, if possible, measure them before and after training to assess business impact. For example, a typical sales KPI is sales revenue.

2) Aligning the solution with the corporate strategy:

The solutions you choose must be aligned with the organization’s long-term strategic direction. In the case of a training solution, align training expenditures in direct proportion to corporate goals. Then, centralize accountability for producing high-impact training. Finally, solicit input from all levels of the organization on alignment and proper solutions.

3) Delivering active learning:

The best training solutions apply the principles of adult learning and respect the needs, limits and strengths of the participants.

Active learning requires three key elements:

– Experience: courses should be highly customized and reflect experiences from outside the classroom while creating relevant simulated experiences within the classroom.

– Engagement: courses must be designed using a variety of teaching methods and media and be entertaining to prevent boredom.

– Evaluation: learners must have opportunities to give and receive feedback on their progress throughout the learning experience to maximize application and retention.

4) Holding people accountable:

The lack of post-training reinforcement is the primary reason for failing to achieve improved performance. You can increase accountability by making expectations and desired results clear to management and participants prior to training. You can also have managers attend the training with their reports to create a shared learning experience.

Mandating the use of the tools, skills and knowledge delivered in the training also aid in post-training reinforcement. Track results and provide prompt, specific feedback on participant performance after the training.

5) Analyze results and calculate ROI for a limited number of programs:

At a minimum, assessment should be conducted for all training to ensure participant satisfaction and that, at the conclusion of training, the new skills and information were delivered and understood. For complex skills or to guarantee compliance, a more in-depth analysis will measure retention and assess to what extent the new information and skills have been transferred from the classroom to the field. Perhaps you can select one or two high-profile, high-impact programs each year for a complete business impact and ROI analysis.

Regardless of the type of training your organization is looking to implement, following this five-step process could have a significant impact on your organization’s bottom line.

For more information, contact us at: www.eFOURlearning.com

Rriginally published in Training Industry by John Buelow

12 Surprising Gamification Stats for 2013


Here at PunchTab, we love creating engaging campaigns. One strategy we use to “get more engagement” for our customers is to add a layer of gamification.

Gamification is one of the most popular, name-dropped buzzwords among marketers today. By definition, the concept is simple- by applying game mechanics to something (program, campaign etc.), you can promote users to take desired behaviors or actions. Game mechanics can come in many forms but usually involve fostering competition, rewarding users for reaching goals, adding narrative or managing user progress on leaderboards.

Gamification is exploding in the marketplace and being utilized by marketers, enterprises, schools and even governments to increase engagement and reach their goals.

So since it’s such a hot topic this year, we thought we’d arm you with some stats to drop when promoting gamification to your company, clients or that random marketer you befriend at your next networking summit. We collected these stats from top industry researchers like BI Intelligence, Gartner and M2 Research. These reports studied the effect gamification has on the everyday consumer and the predicted impact it will have on future marketing efforts.


1. Although the term “gamification” was coined by Nick Pelling back in 2002, it didn’t gain popularity till 2010 (Marczewski)

2. More than 70% of the world’s largest 2,000 companies are expected to have deployed at least one gamified application by year-end 2014 (Gartner)

3. The overall market for gamification tools, services, and applications is projected to be $5.5 billion by 2018 (M2 Research)

4. Consumer-driven gamification commanded more than 90% market share in 2011 (M2 Research)

5. Vendors claim that gamification can lead to a 100% to 150% pickup in engagement metrics including unique views, page views, community activities, and time on site (M2 Research)

6. Over 2/3rds of employers consider gamification an effective strategy for encouraging their employees to improve their health (Buck Consultants)

7. More than 30% of employers intend to adopt a minimum of one health-focused gamified strategy in the next year (BI Worldwide)

8. 47% of vendors say their clients are looking to increase user engagement in their gamification applications (BI Worldwide)

9. 80% of current gamified enterprise applications will fail to meet their objectives, due largely to poor design (Gartner)

10. The enterprise industry vertical already accounts for 1/4th of all gamification vendor revenues (M2 Research)

11. 63% of American adults agree that making everyday activities more like a game would make them more fun and rewarding (JW Intelligence)

12. 51% of American adults agree that if a layer of competition were added to everyday activities, they’d be more likely to keep closer watch of their behavior in those areas (JW Intelligence)

Important note: Some of these stats are contradictory to one another, as each researcher has their own beliefs on what the future holds for gamification. While the future of gamification may not be certain, gamification continues to be currently be a great way to engage future and existing customers.

For more information on GAMIFICATION: www.eFOURlearning.com

Negotiating Using Three Lessons from Pro Sports

Global organizations continue being under increasing pressure to produce results and build lasting relationships. Additionally, the ability to negotiate successfully in today’s turbulent business climate can make the difference between success and failure.

Michael Blackstone is a former executive director of basketball operations for an NBA franchise. He joined the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2010, bringing with him a background in working with sports teams’ front offices to help them improve their negotiation strategies and processes.

Blackstone, now an executive vice president at Shapiro Negotiations Institute, said that his experience with the Cavaliers has taught him quite a few things in negotiation that can be translated into the not sports-related business world.

Basketball Hoop Photo

Too much emphasis on winning

Blackstone said that there is a lot of focus put on who wins the press conference when teams are negotiating trades.

“People spend far too much time wanting to win the deal, versus focusing on getting what they want out of it,” said Blackstone, who came on board as the salary cap administrator just a few months after star forward LeBron James bolted from Cleveland for the Miami Heat. “As long as you maximize your interest and get what you want, does it really matter who wins?”

Failing to prepare is failing to fail

Blackstone also emphasized that businesses need to be prepared at all times if they wish to be successful.

“The number one reason people give for not preparing is time,” he said. “But in reality, time is the scapegoat. In our society of instant gratification, preparation is work. The truth is that people don’t want to do the work required to prepare. They’d rather wing it and hope for the best.”

He added that preparation is the most important part of the entire process — and the only part under one’s control.

“Those who are best prepared are the best negotiators,” he said. “It is important to emphasize a systematic approach to preparation that is effective for any negotiation. Because we’re creatures of habit, if you are successful using specific methods, they will become ingrained and likely save you time preparing for future deals.”

Establishing a walk-away point

People often tend to leave a negotiation without establishing a walk-away point. Blackstone said the way to combat this is by establishing a bottom line — a certain dollar amount, for example. Otherwise, one may be subject to what is known as a “deal fever.”

“The closer you get to a deal getting done, the less likely you are to walk away – even if the deal doesn’t make sense,” he said. “On the other hand, if you take the time to decide on a walk-away point and even go as far as to write it down prior to the meeting, you’re more inclined to stick to it, or at least take time to evaluate the deal, before settling by saying yes to something less than what they want.”

For more information: WWW.eFOURlearning.com

Nabeel Jaitapker, M.A., is Editorial Director at TrainingIndustry.com and Training Industry magazine.

Originally written for TrainingIndustry Magazine

Gaming in the Workplace – How mixing work and play can motivate employees

NTT Data, headquartered in Tokyo, was one of the early adopters of gaming in the workplace. It developed a video game called Ignite Leadership to train its employees on skills such as time management and problem solving.
Illustration: NTT Data…

Playing video games instead of doing your work might sound like a surefire way to get in trouble at the office. But some employers encourage game playing, and even use it as a path to promotion.

Gamification—a relatively new word that stands for applying game-design thinking to non-game applications—has been used in several industries and is now making its way into offices. Gartner, a research firm based in Stamford, Conn., predicts that nearly 2000 global organizations will be using gamification to train their employees and track their performance by the end of this year. And in February, IEEE announced that its experts predict that over the next six years, gaming will be integrated into more than 85 percent of daily activities, which include tasks in the workplace.

One of the early adopters of gamification in the workplace is the IT consulting and outsourcing company NTT Data, headquartered in Tokyo. In 2011, it developed a video game of on-the-job scenarios that its employees might face to help them learn to make better decisions. Its online “Ignite Leadership” game has a samurai guarding a road leading up a mountain. The employees must reach the summit but face challenges along the way that teach negotiating skills, time management, and problem solving.

Players are awarded points for each level they pass; those reaching the top level are also identified as potential leaders for the company. According to the company, more than half the employees participating in the game also advanced to team leadership roles, and this was coupled to a 30 percent reduction in the number of people leaving the company. The game ultimately saved it money on recruitment and retraining.

In another example, the beer company Miller Brewing, based in Milwaukee, developed a virtual game called “Tips on Tap” that instructs bartenders on how to pour the perfect glass of beer. Points are lost if the beer glass in the game hits the tap, where it could become contaminated, and points are earned if the bartender finishes with the right amount of foam on top.

“Games can be very motivational,” says IEEE Member Elena Bertozzi, a professor of digital game design and development at Quinnipiac University, in Hamden, Conn. “They constantly reward players and make them feel good about themselves. When was the last time you got a gold star for doing something right?” She adds that when scores are worked in, games also tend to make employees competitive with other players in their company.

Employees at NTT Data collect points and badges as they complete each challenge. Those that reach the top level are also identified as potential leaders for the company. Illustration: NTT Data


At the University of California Benioff Children’s Hospital, in San Francisco, gamification was used to help prevent hospital-acquired infections. It’s estimated that these cause up to 100 000 patient deaths in the United States alone each year. To motivate nurses to take more careful measures when working with patients, the hospital implemented the gamification app Compete into the workplace.

The app gives the nurses points for logging in their daily tasks, which include reporting on a patient’s condition, especially any unusual symptoms that might signal an infection. Nurses can see one another’s score, which adds the element of competition.

“Something as simple as a scoring system can motivate employees to change their behavior,” says Bertozzi. “It is difficult to teach motivation. That’s what games can do. Game developers look at a situation and figure out how to persuade people to engage in a specific activity by turning the situation into a more competitive one.”

For gaming to be effective, a company must focus on exactly what it wants to accomplish, she explains. There must be a clear and desired outcome, one that can be measured to indicate if a game is successful. Bertozzi points out, however, that awarding points for activities that employees already do well is not useful. Rather, gamification should be reserved for activities that workers are doing poorly, such as wasting supplies or not responding to customers’ queries. Or games can be used for tasks that employees hesitate to engage in, such as carpooling to work.

Any industry can implement gamification, Bertozzi continues. It might be expensive to create a video game customized to the employer’s needs, but quite inexpensive to keep score by hand on a leaderboard. Also, free or inexpensive tools are available online to create a game-like experience such as using social networking platforms. Some companies allow employees to play computer and mobile games, like the pattern-recognition game Bejeweled, to help keep their minds sharp. Others, such as Blue Cross Blue Shield, in Portland, Ore., award employees virtual tokens of different value for simple actions, like resetting a password, as well as complicated tasks, like implementing a new idea that saves the company money. Employees can then gamble the tokens in an online slot machine to win cash and other prizes.

While some companies develop their contests in-house, others rely on outside gamification designers such as Snowfly or Badgeville. For example, Badgeville’s client Deloitte, an international business-skills-training company, integrated a point system with its online courses to motivate its employee-consultants to pay regular visits to the training site and complete their training sessions. The results showed not only that the training site had 47 percent more visits per day, but also that the consultants completed courses in half the time.

One study by the University of Colorado, in Denver, showed that organizations that use games to train employees have more motivated workers who “learn more and forget less.”


But gamification is not for every problem, Bertozzi says. “In the past few years, the mentality around gaming has dramatically shifted from an activity that is a waste of time to something that can change the world, which is often an exaggerated claim.”

There may come a saturation point where games may lose their appeal. “We don’t know how long this spurt will last in which gaming is immersed in industries outside of games themselves,” she says. “It’s not play once an employer institutionalizes it.”

Moreover, once the point system is removed, will employees still engage in activities that the games reward? Most likely not, according to Bertozzi, who has found that people will not have the incentive to continue, say, carpooling or making cold calls if they don’t have to.

“A game is designed for players to get good at the game and motivate them to succeed in it. That’s all it needs to do,” she says.

For more information, contact us today: www.eFOURlearning.com

Originally published by 7 May 2014  IEEE – The Institute