Sustaining Training’s Impact

Time plays a key role in business. It has a meaningful impact on how corporate training programs are developed, whether it’s the speed of delivery, the length of the program, the time the learner interacts with the materials, the time the behavior is demonstrated by the employee after the training, or the introduction of tools and technologies that can get information to learners quickly.

Looking across three research studies, I have collected a group of factors demonstrating the impact of time or speed on training programs. Time is a major constraint in the delivery of training – creating tension between desire for shorter training and longer impact.

In the Training Industry and ON24 research study, “Using Virtual Environments for Leadership Development,” 68 percent of respondents cited that sustaining the impact of training is a key challenge. What’s interesting to note is that the drive to shorten the duration of the programs crosses with the notion of effectively sustaining the impact of the program. In this study, we looked at the length of leadership development programs, and found that more than half of leadership development programs last one week or less (see Figure 1).

Chart 11

Interestingly, the companies that felt their program was effective actually had longer programs, ultimately sustaining the impact of training by extending the entire program (see Figure 2).


In a related piece of research, “Strategies for Sustaining the Impact of Sales Training,” we found that continuous training leads to sustained impact. Effective organizations utilize more pre-training strategies for sustaining training and post-training reinforcement, logically extending the program, but making it more impactful.

One of the key problems that these longer more effective programs introduce to the learning management team is the potential for cost increases. Logically, longer programs cost more to support and deliver. So the learning leader is challenged to find new ways to make these programs happen, and we see it in true blended solutions, including face-to-face training, e-learning, adoption of tools such as virtual training platforms, or digital e-readers to make the materials and reinforcement available when the employee needs it, or more importantly, has time to consume it or participate.

Cost and Sustainability

While our research has shown that long-term, continuous training programs are more effective at sustaining the impact of training, cost is still a critical factor in terms of delivery. Using cost-effective resources to leverage information can help offset the cost of long-term training initiatives, such as digital e-readers, virtual training and e-learning.

From the same research on the use of virtual platforms in leadership development, 51 percent of organizations use a virtual delivery platform in support of their company’ program, often cited as one of the soft skills that benefits most from face-to-face, experiential learning .

In another, soon-to-be-published study on the use of e-readers in the support of corporate training programs, we found that roughly 59 percent of respondents currently use digital e-reader platforms to deliver corporate training content (see Figure 3).


Access was the number one benefit of using digital content delivery platforms as part of corporate training programs allowing the learner to access the content at any location, at any time with quicker reach to the entire group of participants. These digital content delivery platforms also provide the benefit of improved consistency and reduce the cost of revisions to the training materials.  Being able to quickly and inexpensively update reference materials or inserting a session on a topic that appears to need more reinforcement allows for improved agility in the program makeup, and potentially continuous realignment to the company goals.

Additionally, effective companies are 50 percent more likely to include self-study online and e-learning training as an element of their leadership development program, according to the ON24 research report. We are beginning to see an increase in the use of blended learning approaches in key focus areas like leadership development emerge in the training marketplace. There is also increasing pressure from the learner pool to provide program elements in the modality they chose. This provides a clear picture for the future direction of corporate learning surrounding key change initiative like leadership development.


The most effective companies are those that utilize long-term or continuous training programs to sustain the impact of training. Regardless of budget, companies are looking for cost-effective ways to deliver the training, including the introduction of digital e-readers, virtual training and self-study into the learning program. A blended learning approach helps the program sustain the impact of the training while keeping the cost in check as the programs begin to span longer periods of time.

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Originally posted by: Ken Taylor, Ken is Partner and Chief Operating Officer of Training Industry, Inc., and editor in chief for Training Industry Magazine.


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:

6 Inspiring Examples of Gamification

When your customers or employees are having fun, it boosts your performance as a company. The concept of Gamification brings a world of opportunities for online businesses to attract and retain users, as well as converting them into buyers and even better… loyal buyers. We’re interested in Gamification because when building our chat tool we also aimed to combine business with fun. There are a couple of companies that we look up to as they truly nailed it with Gamification.

Even though the Google Trend graph shows the term ‘Gamification’ to be rather new, the systematical approach of driving motivation from people to a certain goal through game elements, such as teams and challenges, is literally as old as the Egyptian Pyramids.

Google Trends: Gamification searched throughout the time (checked on 11th February 2014)

As argued by various authors, the pyramids were built under a different structure than what we’ve been thinking for so long. Apparently the number of slaves used for the construction was way below what has been thought, all because of the game elements that were included in the work. Slaves were organized in extremely hierarchical groups with specialized individuals in different crafts. These “teams”, named after their hometown, competed against each other for many different goods. Their victory was based on effectiveness and rapidness.

The first Gamifiers

Now we wouldn’t want to dream of glorifying slavery in any way. However, this example does demonstrate the power of game elements. There are some great examples of modern-day companies that used gamification to boost their performance. We accumulated some of the most inspiring examples to put on display.


1) M&M’s Eye-Spy Pretzel Campaign

One of the great examples of successful participants engagement with an online social game was the 2013’s M&M’s eye-spy game. Framed within the M&M’s Pretzel campaign, this simple cost-effective game consisted of a simple full-page graphic design of M&M’s and 1 small pretzel which users had to find.

Can you find the pretzel?

This simple, cheap game brought huge gains to M&M, with a boost of more than 25.000 likes on their Facebook page, 6.000 shares and 10.000 comments.


2) Club Psych TV Show and Merchandise Sales

Another great example comes from the american TV Show Psych. Marketers for this product decided to create a new platform – Club Psych – which incoporated gamification into their dynamics with the main goal of increasing customer engagement and ultimately increase their merchandise sales.

The Club Psych is a platform with different games, challenges and multimedia resources related to the tv series. By registering and accomplishing new levels, downloads and other resources, players are ranked in leaderboards, are awarded points and can challenge their friends.

When marketers measured gamification effects within the platform they came out with astonishing numbers: overall traffic on their network increased by 30%, online merchandise sales by 50%, page views by 130% and their content was shared 300,000 times on Facebook, reaching 40 million users.


3) Nike + and the Running Experience Community Project

Nike+ is one of the most famous examples of a game that locks a high amount of potential customers into staying in contact and communicating with the company.

Nike+ is an app developed to complement the most unstructured sport on the planet: running. This platform collects personal data from the users and keeps close update on their running activities in order to monitorize and display their latest achievements and overall evolution. Moreover, Nike+ allows users to compare and compete with people from all over the world, including direct friends when connected to social media.

For Nike, this viral game greatly boosted their exposure and customer loyalty. Furthermore, this highly-developed gaming system allowed them to collect high amounts of data over long periods, after which they were able to segment and market their products and services directly. All the information collected also allowed an increase in productivity of the R&D and Online Marketing departments.

In fact, Nike +’s concept has been so successful that the main framework was built upon and expanded by many other businesses. We just want to highlight the entertaining example of Zombies, Run!, a game where instead of competing with your mates, you are running ahead of a flesh-eating army of zombies.

This game combines the main principles of Nike+ with storytelling – a story about a postapocalyptic zombie world to be exact. While you’re out running you’ll hear a voice telling you whether it is time for a sprint to outrun a hungry zombie mob.


4) Giff Gaff’s Magical Gamified Business Model

Similarly to many community based game approaches comes the Giff Gaff game developed by O2 in 2010. Giff Gaff is a mobile phone service provider with a unique business model.

The idea is that every service provided by Giff Gaff is done by the users of the community, from sales to customer support! From the beginning, since you buy your Giff Gaff SIM Card from one of the members of the platform you’re giving away points and becoming a member of the community. When you request any kind of support at their forum and a member supports you, he is also getting more points. These accumulated points can be then converted into cash, as 1 point is equal to 1 pence (which can be withdrawn, converted into airtime, or donated to charity).

Although gamification is typically used to engage customers, the following examples show that it can also be applied for internal purposes.


5) The US Army Game – The #1 recruitment tool on the planet

Another great example of an organization that deployed the gamification concept to support its strategy is the US Army. They developed a free to download game which has become their number 1 recruitment tool.

This is a multiplayer tactical shooter game where people have the opportunity to combat at a squad-level with three fireteams in an extremely realistic approach. By bringing reality into a game, recruiters allow recruits to put themselves in the shoes of a soldier and check whether they have what it takes to become a battle fighter.

This game was developed with a very clear business goal: increasing the number of recruits to the army. Before playing the game everyone is recommended to create an online account, joining the “Online Army” (and giving them all your real data).

In this example the gamified thought goes even deeper by replacing typical badges you get with any online game, for the “Badges of Honor” you will earn by becoming a member of the American Army.

As you can expect, this game has been under heavy ethical discussion. Colonel Wardynski defends the game: “There is a fine line and you don’t want to step over it. We steer clear of glamorizing war or taking advantage of current events. People may have lost love ones recently. And there is the privacy of the people involved. Another concern is national security, if you put too much detail into it.”


6) Salesforce’s Roadwarrior Training

Gamification can also be used for training purposes, as shown by SAP use of Roadwarrior to train its sales staff. Roadwarrior was developed by Salesforce to train sales representatives, through simulated meetings with customers, on how and what to answer considering tailored customer needs. Through the process of answering simulated customers, the sales rep wins badges and earns points, or loses them when they request life-lines. There are many levels to be unlocked on cross-technology matters and reps can challenge other colleagues to match their accomplishments.

Sales people are generally very competitive, making them a good target for a game motivating them to upgrade their sales skills. According to’s blog, 90.4% of the companies that implemented a gamification program for their sales team reported successful results.

With Roadwarrior SAP turned training into fun, increasing the position of its sales force within the learning-curve (by forcing them to continuously simulate different scenarios), increasing motivation and stimulating socialization among the team. And the bottom line, leading to higher sales.


The Possibilities of Gamification for your Business

You might be aiming at developing your internal capital related with HR matters such as productivity, as you can see from the example of SAP and its training game Roadwarrior, the US Army’s recruitment game or through crowdsourcing as Giff Gaf’s original business model which includes the concepts of gamification merged with relevance of social communities.

Gamification is a business tool and games are not simple, not just graphics and design. If you would like to create an engaging experience to your customers think strategically and plan carefully what you want to achieve even before hiring your game developer.

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Gamification At The Curriculum Level

Are your gamification efforts focused solely at the course level? You may be missing opportunities to guide and engage learners.

Remember your first days of college – the phone book-sized stack of orientation materials, the maze of dorm rooms and classrooms, and those cryptic graduation requirements you had no hope of understanding?

Credits, classes, minors, majors, electives – to me it was a mass of confusion until a guidance counselor set me straight.

Do new hires in your company feel the same way about on-boarding? What about continuing professional education? Few organizations have the role of “guidance counselor”. That responsibility gets left to busy managers.

I propose a new solution to end confusion, improve the learner experience, and increase engagement: gamification.

Right now, you might think of gamification only at the course level – incorporating game-based elements like timers, points, or badges. We know that these elements, done well, can increase engagement by capitalizing on our natural inclination to play and our desire to win.

Now think of moving from the micro (course) level to the macro (curriculum) level. We can use some of the same techniques, such as badges, missions, challenges, and ranks, to transform the learner experience before he or she even enters a course. For example, we recently developed a learning portal for a client’s distributed salesforce. Learners first set up their profiles by choosing their “avatar,” creating a personalized experience from the start. From there they choose from an array of missions (groups of related courses), take on challenges (courses), and move up the ranks by collecting badges for completing courses.

As a creative director, I am impressed with how creating gamification at the curriculum level challenges my team to think more critically about the user experience. We are designing a system, rather than a set of screens. We’ve added new steps to our process, such as performing more up-front analysis to validate the information architecture, as well as incorporating more user experience testing to be sure our design choices work effectively for the audience.

In the near future, I predict we will see “gamified” curricula accessible on tablets and phones, where learners can tap into nano-learnings, articles, and podcasts, progressing through their program anywhere, anytime.

Leveraging gamification at the curriculum level takes advantage of the full power of the learning portal. Like a college guidance counselor, it helps guide and motivate leaners through the maze of on-boarding, certification, or professional development programs.

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Originally published by; John Carlos Lozano – John-Carlos Lozano is Creative Director at SweetRush.

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:

Rriginally published in Training Industry by John Buelow

How Big is the Training Market?

One of the most frequently asked questions of training analysts is, “how big is the training market?” The truth of the matter is no one really knows for sure, although we are able to make good rational estimates based on sound research and economic analysis. Why is the data hard to get to? Because corporations (buyers of services) are weary of reporting actual expenditures for training. And in some cases, many large companies don’t accurately know how much they spend on training as expenses get buried in non-training related line items.

As difficult as it may be, my goal is to provide you with a few data points that should help in understanding the size of the market. estimates that:

  • 2013 Corporate and government spend for training activities in N.A. (North America) was approximately $141.7B. We believe the average spend for all corporate training activities (employee and customer) to be about .7 percent of annual revenues (or $7 for every $1000 in company revenues). Generally speaking, the larger the company the more they spend on training as a percent of revenue. Companies that are more technology oriented tends to spend more, while companies who are more services oriented tends to spend much less. Note: ASTD estimates the 2012 market to have been $164.2B, down from $171.5B which they reported for 2011, or 1.1 percent of revenues.
  • Spend for training services has increased by about 5.2 percent from 2012, much better than what was originally anticipated (original expectations were the market would grow at a modest 2.5 percent. Spend levels have now exceeded the industry’s high market in 2007 of about a $136B. Our best estimates find the ten year industry low mark to be in 2002 with spend at about $109B, and again dropping to $110B in 2009 (revised from earlier estimates).
  • The global market for training expenditures in 2013 was about $306.9B, an increase from $291.7B in 2012. We believe N.A. represents about 46% of the global market ($141.7B) and Europe to be about 29%, or $89B of the global market. Asia comes in at $31B (10 percent), India $21.5B (seven percent), Australia $9.2B (3 percent), South America $6.3B (2 percent), Africa $3.6B (1 percent), and the rest of the world $4.6B (1.1 percent).
  • Approximately 75 percent of the global spend for training is in North America and Europe. Asia and India, the two most populated regions in the world, combined make up about 17 percent of the global market.
  • Companies spend about 44 percent of their training related dollars on employees, compared to 49 percent on customers, and seven percent on suppliers and channel partners.
  • Companies in North America spend approximately 58 percent of their training budget on insourced activities (people, facilities, etc.), and about 42 percent of their budget on outsourced services. This translates into a supplier market for outsourced services of $59.5B and an insourced spend of $82.2B.  Note: ASTD estimates companies spend 60 percent of their training budgets on internal resources and 40 percent with external suppliers.
  • The top 5 non-BPO market segments for outsourced training are IT ($2.9B; 4.9 percent), Leadership ($2.6B; 4.4 percent), Learning Technologies ($4.0B; 6.7 percent), Sales Training ($2.2B; 3.8 percent), and Content Development ($3.5B; 5.9 percent). All other segments account for about $44.2B. The market is so highly fragmented that the top five segments represents only 12 percent of the total market spend.
  • Training BPO (business process outsourcing) services in N.A. was about $5.76B, or 9.7 percent of the external spend for training services. This includes both comprehensive and selective outsourcing deals. We estimate the out-tasked market for training services was about 90 percent of the sourcing market, or $53.7B. Respectively, licensing of content and training technologies was about $34.1B (58 percent), and contracting for training resources to be about $19.6B (32.3 percent).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Doug Harward is the CEO and Founder of Training Industry, Inc. He is internationally recognized as one of the leading strategists for training and outsourcing business models.

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.

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