Social learning technologies not only have the potential to drive collaboration within the enterprise, they enable learners to access the information they need in real time.
One of the fastest-growing trends in learning technology is the expertise directory, which allows an employee to quickly find an expert and ask him or her a question. The concept isn’t new. Employee directories have been in existence for a while, but Chris Lennon, director of product management at talent management product provider Silk Road, said it typically involves an IT-owned tool that isn’t up to date. This can make a simple search an arduous, even futile, process.
“Having the ability to have a tool that can legitimately tell you who in your organization is a very influential person around a particular topic is really starting to take off,” he said. “Because of the social technologies, we’re just now starting to do that — we’re able to determine when [Employee A] goes and responds to a lot of topics or authors a lot of content around a particular area. We can glean that information in a way that we’ve not been able to do [before].”
Jason Corsello, vice president of corporate development and strategy for talent management software company Cornerstone OnDemand, said social collaboration — the ability to find and connect with experts in the organization — is a growing trend.
“If I want to find knowledge about talent management, I can do a search for talent management and that would render courses available, people that have specific knowledge around the topic, any groups that are available, communities of interest, discussions or Q&As around the topic — so it’s blending the two worlds so it becomes much more employee driven versus corporate mandated,” he said.
Cornerstone OnDemand is redesigning its Connect product, its social collaboration tool, so users can search and connect with the appropriate people at the point of need.
Keith Meyerson, director of learning and development for luxury retailer Neiman Marcus Group Services, who uses Connect, said there is anecdotal evidence of business changes occurring as a result of such tools.
“People are asking questions, they’re getting immediate answers,” he said. “People are now connecting and getting responses about things that normally would take 10 people to decide when they could have a meeting and reschedule that five times before they actually met — these things are happening instantly on the tool.”
That’s a win-win for Neiman Marcus — it allows subject matter experts to be found easily — and its employees, who feel like they have a voice or a platform to share their experience and expertise, Meyerson said.
Meanwhile at Southland Industries, which uses Silkroad’s GreenLight LMS, there are plenty of just-in-time learning opportunities for employees. George Benoit, the company’s director of training, said employees with specific questions needn’t wait around for a class — they can go online and get just-in-time training through the system. The company also has implemented a SharePoint site called SI Connect, which allows employees to search for and contact experts who might be able to help with specific projects or share lessons learned.