Annual Study

Business Impact of Technology-Enabled Learning

London (UK), December 2013 - The annual Towards Maturity benchmark study carried out across over 500 organisations including BT, BA, NHS Direct, Toyota Motor Europe, and Bupa, reveals that technology-enabled learning has helped businesses reduce staff churn by nine percent, speed up new product roll-out by 24 percent, and reduce learning delivery time by 22 percent.

The 2013 benchmark study, now in its tenth year, is unique: It is the only annual longitudinal research to study how organisations use technology to deliver effective learning that directly impacts commercial growth. Data was gathered from learning and development leaders across 44 countries from June to August 2013.

Laura Overton, MD at Towards Maturity says, "Over the last ten years, the study has clearly shown that learning innovation that is done well delivers bottom-line business results. The goal is to help organisations review their current approach, compare progress against their peers in order to take positive action, and achieve their full potential".

All participating organisations are provided with personalized feedback to help them improve bottom-line results year on year. Widely considered the bellwether of the learning and development industry, the benchmark study is consulted by influencers for future learning and development trends.

BT PLC has participated in the Towards Maturity Benchmark since it began in 2003. Tom Pape, Head of Learning Innovation, at BT PLC says, "Our key aim is not only to develop our people and drive their performance and health within their roles, but also to be a critical enabler for all to collaborate, share, and build on skillsets and capability in the future. It’s important that we listen to our people regarding how they want to learn, but also that we learn from outside the company by comparing our data findings with other large organisations".

He continued, "These are the principles that BT uses to ensure we are aligned to the needs of the business and that we can bring solutions to scale and address needs faster. The Towards Maturity Benchmark is one of the tools that helps us to do just this".

Key findings for learning and development

The biggest increase is in mobile learning. A total of 71 percent of participants are actively considering how to use mobile devices to support learning in 2013 compared to 45 percent in 2012.

The longitudinal nature of this study provides the opportunity to look at longer term trends over five years or more. eLearning content remains the most commonly used tool to support online learning (used by ninety percent of participants in 2013) followed by learning-management systems (88 percent) and virtual meeting tools (78 percent).

However, in 2013, learning and development professionals have more technology options to choose from and are using 57% more technologies to support learning than in 2008. For example in 2013, over fifty percent of the sample are using enterprise-wide systems such as Sharepoint, mobile learning, and rapid-development tools to supplement their core offering.

Laura Overton reflects, "What has really excited me this year is the enthusiasm among L&D leaders for technology to deliver real bottom-line results that go beyond measuring completion rates or training hours. What is also important is that learners are keen to see the benefits of technology in learning, with 88% of learners in our study saying that they want to be able to learn at their own pace. By using learning technology appropriately, L&D leaders have a real opportunity to help improve staff engagement and ultimately customer satisfaction and to help their organisations respond faster to economic change".

The report also looks at the perspective of over 2,000 learners across a wide range of job roles who had participated in the Towards Maturity Learning Landscape study to provide a learner perspective on how staff are learning what they need for their job.

Some 86 percent of learners reported that they found out what they needed to learn to do their job by working in collaboration with others, 70% through Google or other search engines, 70% via a supportive manager, 64% via classroom courses, and 55% via job aids and checklists. Eighty-eight percent of learners said that they preferred to learn at their own pace, and 50% identify uninspiring content as the top barrier to their engagement with online learning.

Laura Overton says, "These are exciting times for learning professionals. They can add real value back to the business with access to more tools to innovate and inspire learning and more insights into effective practices. However, moving forward, it is clear that L&D teams still need to be equipped with skills to use tools effectively in order for full learning and business potential to be realised".