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What do we want? Learning! When do we want it? Right now!

The five-year gap between marketing and learning

L&D consistently adopts technology and methodologies from great advertisers and marketers. Trouble is, L&D tends to run about five years behind the curve. Gamification is a prime example.

Gamification hit peak popularity in the marketing world around the early 2010’s. It’s only been the last three years that Mindspace has seen a significant uptick in the number of organizations searching for gamified training, recruitment and retention solutions.

One of the ways L&D can close this gap — or better yet, get ahead of the curve — is by studying some of the latest trends in advertising, reviewing new studies and applying marketing insights to their learning programs. And that’s just what I’ll be doing over the next few weeks.

Micro-moments are big — really big

To kick it off, let’s take a look at a recent blog post from Google on micro-moments, a term the search-turned-advertising-turned-everything giant coined about two years ago. According to Google, micro-moments are “…the moments when we turn to a device — often a smartphone — to take action on whatever we need or want right now.”

Learning teams have already begun to make the switch to mobile-first experiences (though, again, that change has been exceedingly slow). We understand that people spend nearly three hours a day on their smartphones and 43% of employees spend time working remotely, according to Gallup. The impending mobile revolution in learning and development is key to paving the way for what I think is an even more monumental shift: the idea of “right here, right now” learning.

A few months back, my team met with a consulting group focused on innovating new ventures. Having recently spun off of a long-standing parent group, they are interested in shaking off the shackles of traditional corporate learning. They want to build a culture of learning — an environment in which learning occurs naturally and is not driven by a top-down approach, instead operating in a peer-to-peer manner with L&D curating the “best of” learning moments.

There’s only one challenge. A big, hairy challenge. That 10-foot behemoth that plagues so many of our organizations. Nobody has time. Everyone is too busy doing their jobs to take the time to learn new ways to make their jobs better.

To create a culture of learning in our organizations, having a “right here, right now” focus is imperative. We can no longer ask workers to set aside an hour here or a day there, interrupt their work and come learn something that may or may not have immediate application to their jobs and careers. We need to create a paradigm that enables and facilitates learners to gain relevant, timely information at exactly the moment they need it.

(Many organizations have tried to solve for this need for immediate information through creating a company wiki. While the thinking is in the right direction, they are unwieldy, seldom visited and require vast amounts of time and effort to keep current.)

The future is almost here

According to the blog published by Google’s VP of Marketing for Americas, “Smartphone users are 50% more likely to expect to purchase something immediately while using their smartphone compared to a year ago.” As consumers, we are already training ourselves to not only want information immediately, but also take action immediately.

When viewed through the lens of learning, we can see what this statistic holds for the future of learning and development. Our learners will increasingly come to demand on-demand learning that is timely, useful, current and actionable — all in the time it takes to go from one meeting to the next.

We can’t take five years to get there. We have to start now.

At Mindspace, in addition to diving into VR and AR for learning, we’ve begun experimenting with integrating artificial intelligence and virtual assistants like Alexa and Cortana into Fathom, our learning platform. We envision a day soon when learners will be able to ask relevant, timely questions about the task at hand and get immediate spoken answers with an opportunity to dive deeper into a subject.

We’re not satisfied with playing catch-up. The days when marketing will look to learning and development for “what’s next” are just around the corner.


Illustration by Kyle Davila, Senior Art Director at Mindspace.


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