The future of work (and learning) is here. It seems as if it arrived overnight. Are we – corporate learning and development (L&D) professionals – ready?

As L&D leaders, we need to move at lightening speed and with the ability to pivot as business needs shift. The estimated half-life of skills is less than five years, yet for the most part, the average company drives learning on a mid-20th-century model: standardized education, content focused, eLearning…!

The World Economic Forum (WEF) reports that we will need to reskill 1 billion to keep pace with what has been deemed the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Then, there’s the change brought about by new forms of employment, globalization, significant demographic shifts, the need for digital fluency and, of course, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Did we mention systemic inflation? Geopolitical tensions?

We have been granted a fleeting moment to make a real difference by ensuring that the right skills are available to businesses as needed. In a recent BCG survey of some of the world’s biggest companies, about 95% of participants indicated that corporate learning is crucial to their future and should be a high priority.

The problem is complex – but not unsolvable – and technology in all its forms is a key element in this process. But it is not the silver bullet that some people would like to believe it is.

Realistic Expectations

Technology simplifies and enables learning professionals to impact at scale and with speed. But how do you avoid the pitfalls?

EdTech is a rapidly growing industry that has exploded in the last three years, estimated to be worth about $85 billion as of 2021, growing at a CAGR of 15%(2022-2028). This was brought about in part, but not in full, by the need to shift learning experiences online at speed due to the pandemic.

When it comes to adopting learning technologies, the barriers to entry are low, and the average corporate learning professional is faced with literally thousands of vendors, platforms and options to choose from. The “sell” is slick and, with a wealth of options such as: mobile learning, microlearning, gamification, learning analytics, virtual and augmented reality (AR/VR), robotics, wearables, adaptive and personalized learning systems, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) … the list goes on. Unfortunately, learning technologies can fall short of their promise if they aren’t strategically implemented and managed.

How does the corporate learning professional use technology to the greatest effect?

First, consider what to stop doing. Stop:

  1. Chasing the latest cool toys.
  2. Assuming marketing and technology product roadmaps are the same thing.
  3. Thinking everyone else has nailed their learning tech stack and that you’re falling behind.

To better select and leverage technology for better training, start by asking and answering in great clarity: What are you solving for, and do you have a good understanding of the root cause of the problem?

Then, ask yourself:

  1. What is the most strategic pain point you want to solve?
  2. What is the purpose? Data tracking? Reporting? Centralizing content? Virtual reach? Personalization? Collaboration?.
  3. What is the scale? Will this technology be integrated with existing technologies or is it a standalone solution?
  4. Which platforms will it be accessible on … mobile, desktop or both?

After answering the questions above:

  1. Be clear on your five-year learning roadmap.
  2.  Use taskforces that are multi-functional – and yes, that must include a technology expert and an end-user at minimum. Diversity is your friend!
  3. Start the learning technology search yourself – use specialized search platforms to get started.
  4. Do your homework before you speak to providers.
  5. Focus the time, effort and energy of your change management plan on usage and adoption, not the launch (which requires less preparation).
  6. Prepare your stakeholders for a 30% failure rate on EdTech.


The future of work has arrived and with it, a golden age for learning professionals. When it comes to learning technologies, the need is clear. What is not clear is whether the learning community – en masse – has the technological savvy to step up. Time will tell.