The last several years have seen a flood of new concepts, digital tools, and technology that change how people interact, including how we do our work in learning and development. Understanding these ideas and how they transform our workflows and outcomes is vital to keeping up with changing environmental conditions such as public health restrictions and business environments, customer demand, and technology.
This transformation includes digital enablement and improvement of our existing core processes. Many processes associated with L&D can benefit from digital enablement, especially those that involve management across organizational silos. For example, accessing and distributing knowledge and skills in the form of training. In the past, this has been done through learning management systems (LMSs).
LMS and courses are effective ways to deliver some types of content and outcomes, such as general company policies, security training, or department overviews. But training on tools, processes, or methodologies in a fast-changing world suffers when separated from and delivered outside of the workflow in a traditional course:
- Course content is easily forgotten
- Course content is not easily accessible
- Course content is not reinforced
- Course content does not mirror how people learn outside of work
- Courses are not designed for training on small changes
We are seeing increasing use of delivery formats that address and solve these issues. Among others, microlearning, wikis, and just-in-time workflow learning place learning at the moment of need, make it easier to access, and provide for reinforcement that aligns with how people learn. They also give better support for implementing small changes to policies and procedures. These approaches are better matched to the needs of teams with complex processes, products, and workflows where workers need real-time knowledge. Digital enablement provides a new category of tools for learning and development applications.
Digital enablement example: Spekit
Looking for a practical example of how digital enablement works in real life, I spoke with Elle Brayton, director of marketing for Spekit, a digital adoption and enablement platform that’s changing the way teams learn in the workplace.
BB: How would you describe Spekit in everyday L&D language?
EB: Spekit is a SaaS, digital enablement platform that surfaces real-time training and resources directly within the applications that workers (and L&D teams) use every day. It combines the power of a knowledge base and a digital adoption and enablement solution all-in-one to support employees from initial onboarding to their first time completing a process and beyond. All of an organization's training and resources are consolidated within the Spekit wiki. That information then surfaces, contextually, directly within tools like Salesforce, LinkedIn, etc. to reinforce learning at the point of need. Teams use Spekit to streamline onboarding, introduce new tools or processes, communicate changes, and more. So Spekit is SaaS, it is a performance support application, and it is a training application. Spekit is available in the cloud, and also as mobile apps on Android, iPhone, and iPad.
BB: I should ask at this point about the difference between digital enablement and training. Digital enablement in the context of Spekit also seems to mean learning in the flow of work.
EB: As a market category, digital enablement is still pretty much in its infancy. Digital enablement is not just one solution, but a way to think about work and training in the modern world. In the past, training was classroom, PowerPoints, and LMS. Today, workers are using 30 or more applications to do their day-to-day jobs. These tools are constantly changing and evolving. The old methods of training require workers to take a step away from what they’re doing and consume a one-hour course or go through a PowerPoint presentation. That just doesn't map to today's learner and the way that people are working.
Digital enablement is, as you said, the concept of learning in the flow of work, in-app learning, with being able to access the answers and resources that you need to do your job effectively and successfully as you're working. Instead of making learning a one-off event, it is an integrated piece of your day-to-day that happens throughout your employee journey.
BB: Who uses digital enablement this way?
EB: Departments across the organization use Spekit to access and distribute knowledge. Sales can access objection handling tips as they're prospecting in LinkedIn, support teams can access policies or quick FAQs as they're answering questions in Zendesk, or marketing teams can share new case studies, upcoming events, etc. as they become available. We find that sales and learning teams typically are the ones who purchase Spekit and then roll it out across departments.
BB: What are the deliverables that Spekit supports? I see mentions in your website and elsewhere to "battle cards"—what are they, how are they used, does Spekit help users create them?
EB: Battle cards would be an example of content you could house within the Spekit wiki and surface within an application as sales teams are prospecting. But any training content or media resources that are essential to ensure your employees are successful can be surfaced using Spekit.
Spekit includes customizable training content on the most popular tools. This content is included out of the box. For example, if you're just getting started with Spekit and you want to train teams how to use Salesforce, Outreach.io, and Salesloft, you can customize Spekit's off-the-shelf documentation to your business and instantly have training ready to go for your team. This saves significant time having to create training and documentation from scratch. In addition, the teams themselves can maintain, update, and extend the content in the wikis as changes occur.
Overall, you're going to get more usage of all of that training and the assets that take you so long to put together. It's used more from an employee perspective, too. Instead of just going through a one-week onboarding course and then being thrown in the ring, now workers have all of that same content they received during onboarding accessible to them as they start their flow of work at the beginning of the day, whenever they need it.
BB: How does Spekit combine microlearning and in-app learning?
EB: Great question! The content that workers or instructional designers put into the Spekit wiki is formatted into small, digestible, microlearning bites, called "Speks." Rather than surfacing an entire LMS course or PowerPoint presentation, team members can quickly access small Speks, directly within the tool they're using, that only show the information relevant to their specific question at that point in time. For example, you can write a Spek for "How to update my Gmail signature" with three tips, you can tie that Spek to the word "Signature" in Gmail so that a small icon appears directly beside that term, and any employee can quickly hover over that icon for the answer the moment they need it.
BB: Is there a primary or outstanding use case for this approach to digital enablement?
EB: We have a much better grasp today on how the human brain actually learns and retains information. The truth is that 70% of the information we learn from a traditional LMS course or training session is forgotten within a day. The key to knowledge retention is reinforcement and repetition within the flow of work. We live in a world where we're using more tools than ever before in our roles, and now we're primarily learning in a remote environment. Digital enablement, including Spekit, acts as that always-on, digital companion that reinforces crucial knowledge and information in the moment of need to support employees with the knowledge they need to be throughout every stage of their learning journey.
Use cases include organizations in hyper-growth mode that need to scale teams quickly, when they're struggling with traditional training methods and notice gaps in comprehension, when they're overwhelmed with support tickets from employees on how to complete processes or find resources, or when they're looking for a solution to drive the productivity and performance of their remote teams.
Spekit challenges teams to think differently about workplace training. Rather than treating training as a one-time event, it becomes an integrated part of an employee's day-to-day. Our customers have seen:
- Significantly reduced onboarding time
- Significantly increased productivity
- 50% less time communicating new initiatives/changes
- 40% less support tickets
Want more information about digital enablement?
At the Learning Guild’s Learning Solutions Digital Experience on Monday, May 3, 2021, Melanie Fellay will present session FS03 “Digital Enablement: The Key to an Employee-centric Learning Experience.” Fellay is the CEO and co-founder of Spekit. Her presentation will provide further information on digital enablement applications and their use in meeting business performance challenges in today’s demanding conditions. Register today for LS DX to attend this event!