Digital technology is changing the way we work – and learn. To stay ahead, L&D teams don’t have to become digital gurus, but they do need to change the way they work.
‘Digital transformation’ – you’ve probably heard of it. Digital transformation or DX is a term well-used by business leaders – it’s taking a prominent spot in industry headlines, keeps appearing on meeting agendas and is often blasted all over my LinkedIn feed.
If you’ve seen the term but aren’t quite sure what it really means, Salesforce sums it up nicely: digital transformation is the process of using digital technologies to create or adapt business processes, cultures and customer experiences.
It’s this reimagining of business in the digital age that is having a huge impact on the role of L&D.
How digital transformation helps organisations ‘adapt and survive’
Digital transformation has been gaining momentum, and it’s not surprising when you look at the benefits.
DX can help businesses to respond, adapt and change quickly – vital attributes for businesses wanting to succeed in the current VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) climate.
Digital transformation can also help businesses gain the competitive advantage, as according to Marc Benioff, digital transformation starts and ends with improving the consumer experience.
When you consider what digital transformation is offering the business world, it’s not surprising that in 2018, a staggering 85% of businesses planned to invest in it.
There really is nowhere to hide from digital transformation – even if you aren’t aware it’s happening in your organisation, chances are it will be making an appearance soon.
What effect will it have on L&D?
It’s likely that every part of the business will be impacted by the disruption that digital transformation brings, and this certainly applies to L&D.
Learning professionals have a big job on their hands as their business leaders begin to transform the culture, processes and consumer experiences of their organisation.
There’s no doubt that the role of L&D is changing, but how it will change is not crystal clear.
Learning practitioners need to focus on their own CPD and put their own oxygen masks on first, so to speak.
The concept of L&D supporting digital transformation can sound a little daunting, especially when you consider how difficult it is to keep up with emerging tech – and that’s just talking about learning delivery.
There’s a big misconception that in order for L&D to support digital transformation, they need to become digital gurus themselves, when actually, they just need to position themselves so they can support the business leaders who are driving the digital transformation.
How L&D professionals can support digital transformation
In order to do this, learning practitioners need to focus on their own CPD and put their own oxygen masks on first, so to speak.
By adapting their role and skill set they will be in a better position to support the businesses digital transformation journey.
Then, they can begin to build a successful learning strategy that will support the transformation of their organisation.
It begins by working towards the following:
1. Become digitally literate
Think of becoming digitally literate as a more digestible version of becoming a digital guru.
Becoming digitally literate is about understanding the ins and outs of what digital transformation means to your business, covering everything from what they are hoping to achieve, to how they are planning on achieving it.
Sometimes, it simply comes down to letting go of what has worked well in the past in order to embrace new ways of thinking
Being digitally literate also means you should have a good understanding of what technology is being introduced to your learners, and how it might impact their day-to-day work.
Once you have mastered this knowledge, you will be better placed to suggest what learning technology would best support the business-wide digital transformation.
2. Get creative
Creativity is the driving skill behind change, transformation and innovation. It’s more important than ever for learning professionals to take a step back and nurture their own creativity.
Creative thinking can open up your ability to innovate and widen the scope of what you achieve and how you can achieve it, helping you to transform the role of L&D alongside the business.
Sometimes, it simply comes down to letting go of what has worked well in the past in order to embrace new ways of thinking – a valuable lesson from Towards Maturity’s Transformation Curve.
3. Engage with stakeholders
Being able to engage with your stakeholders will help you to get closer to the business so you can better plan for how L&D will support the transformation.
By future-proofing your solutions, you’ll be helping to future-proof the business.
If you struggle to engage with your stakeholders, it could be that you need to focus on developing your strategic business planning skills, so you become a valued member of important conversations.
It’s the responsibility of the learning practitioner to make sure L&D has a seat at the table so they can support transformation from the beginning.
4. Become agile
A sure way you can support your business through digital transformation is to develop digital learning solutions that are both flexible and adaptable.
By doing this, you will be prepared for rapid change, so you can quickly respond to the transforming business needs – by future-proofing your solutions, you’ll be helping to future-proof the business.
So, the next time you see ‘digital transformation’ appear out of the blue, just remember that although it might be changing the role of L&D, it’s not about becoming the next digital guru.
It’s about developing the skills you need to support transformation, and prepare your business for inevitable change.
Interested in this topic? Read Five ways to support learners in a digital age.