The world of work is constantly evolving due to rapid developments in technology and shifts in the business market. For years, automation, machine learning and artificial intelligence have been changing the way we live and work. Even before the current crisis, many organisations were transitioning to virtual work environments, significantly changing the way many employees perform their jobs. The impact of Covid-19 has accelerated this transition, and a significant number of organisations are now estimating that remote working is likely to be a significant part of work for the foreseeable future.
For learning and development practitioners, this has meant a wholescale change in approach to the delivery of learning and development, with many organisations accelerating their adoption of digital technologies to support the upskilling and reskilling of staff, making these opportunities easily available to those now working remotely.
The above has coincided with an explosion of technologies that support learning and development. The advent of the learning experience platform (LXP) has had a significant impact on the learning technologies market, but what exactly is it and how does it differ from the tried and tested learning management system (LMS)?
The learning experience platform (LXP) is often defined as a consumer-grade learning solution designed to create more personalised learning experiences and help users discover new learning opportunities. It achieves this by combining learning content from different sources, recommending and delivering them with the support of artificial intelligence (AI) across the digital touch points, e.g. desktop application, mobile learning app and others.
So, how then does this differ from the learning management system (LMS)? A key difference is the open, bottom-up nature of an LXP, which encourages social and curation-based learning among employees versus the formalised approach of an LMS. An LMS tends to lean towards “push learning”, where learning material is organised and uploaded by an LMS admin or course developer and is assigned to a certain employee demographic (e.g. a mandatory hygiene certification course for customer-facing staff) based on formal business needs, like compliance maintenance, onboarding or job-related skills and competencies.
Whilst there has been a lot of talk over the years that the LXP would lead to the demise of the LMS, this has not happened and most practitioners now agree that there is a place for both. This has led to a convergence of the two technologies with LMS vendors adding functionality normally associated with the LXP and LXP vendors adding “LMS light” functionality into their LXP.
Though these technologies have their place, we feel that they fall short for organisations looking for a technology solution that comprehensively supports the modern employee’s learning and development. We believe this is because the LXP and the LMS focus on the delivery of “learning content”, which is only one of the modalities in the learning and development toolbox. A variety of solutions currently on the market or in development are working to address this shortfall. Sometimes called an opportunity marketplace, a gig marketplace or a talent marketplace, these tools offer the learner experiential learning opportunities much as an LXP would offer learning content.
The opportunity marketplace widens the scope of the technology to cover the full talent cycle. In addition to experiences such as coaching, mentoring, or job shadowing, an opportunity marketplace will also enable employees to find the best possible work for the skills they have and the skills they want, as well as managers to find the best possible talent for the work they have. And by offering and tracking skill-building work in a cloud talent management system, organisations also gain up-to-date visibility into the capabilities and interests of their workforce.
While most LMS and LXP offerings allow for tagging the content with the proffered skill or competency proficiency gain, an opportunity marketplace will use capability data to bring highly personalised recommended development experiences to the learner, based on a rich portfolio of the learner’s strengths, aspirations, interests and passions.
A powerful opportunity marketplace will be comprised of a capabilities dataset (which is automatically sourced), paired with AI-driven prediction algorithms (pushing additional related skills tied to employee interests, career goals, or skills they wish or are encouraged to develop), an opportunities inventory (where anyone can submit positions, projects, mentorships, alternative work arrangement – e.g., tandem roles, participation in a dynamic team) and matching technology (that connects the “buyers” with “suppliers”).
While all this data may already exist in some form in traditional HR systems, the true value of an opportunity marketplace is that it brings a new level of richness to this data. Paired with a machine-learning driven skills and competency ontology, as well as skills inference, it creates a flywheel effect by which learners are encouraged to share their profile with the system due to the precise recommendations they receive in return. And the recommendations not only support learners in finding truly meaningful work and growing in their career but continue to fuel the population of an ever-richer capability portfolio as skills gained are continuously added.
There are two sides to this: firstly, from an organisational perspective, you’re getting true visibility into what skills your workforce has and where these skills reside within your organisation. This leads to better understanding and better decision-making. Secondly, as an employee, you’re getting matched with personalised opportunities that match your interests and availability and you’re getting insight into what skills you may not have, that you might consider developing in the future. We hear in our customer interviews that right now, employees have such a limited understanding of where they stand and where they should be going that it’s like driving at night without headlights. The data enabled through an opportunity marketplace creates that clear line of sight both for employees and employers.
An opportunity marketplace is a modern solution for engaging and empowering employees throughout a workforce. Whether they are interested in honing their current capabilities or learning new ones, they can be connected with an experience that fits the needs of the organisation and works for their time and interests. Recommendations of formal learning, informal learning and experiential learning are curated for an employee to browse, bookmark and act upon. The result will be an exploration, understanding and growth in capabilities as the “lingua franca” of workforce development.
The Future of Learning and Content in the Virtual World
What strategy changes are organisations making to future proof employee learning? Join us for this episode of the Human Factor podcast as learning experts share top tips and insights and explore “The Future Direction of Learning and Content in the Virtual World”.