Technology departments are in a unique position today when it comes to learning and development. They are being asked, or forced in some cases, to play a larger and more flexible role in training and learning. We see organizations approaching technology’s role in interesting ways. On one hand, technology effectively enables learning by unlocking and unblocking employees’ access to learning systems and experiences. On the other hand, technology can do the opposite, unknowingly blocking efforts to give employees access to the best learning experiences.

The latter is counter to all that technologists espouse in our own roles where change is consistent and required and where learning is not something we do monthly or yearly. Our role in unlocking access to learning for all employees should be seen through our own lens of learning. We should look to advise and police in a way that pushes forward efforts to grant employees access to learning. In addition, businesses should understand that the key to giving employees the best learning experiences is to integrate technology as a large part of the overall learning strategy rather than including technology as an afterthought. In this way, next-generation technologies can be introduced to employees in a way that pushes forward organizational capabilities.

One Size Doesn’t Fit Most

In many organizations, there is a search for an elusive all-in-one system that will finally solve all of our L&D problems. There is a tendency to shy away from using multiple platforms to meet the needs of an increasingly sophisticated learner. Like with most businesses and systems, there’s rarely one that does it all and does it all, well. With the right partners, a valuable ecosystem linked by APIs can offer tremendous value to a learning organization. By combining best-in-class learning content with a platform offering an engaging experience for the learner, companies can propel their learning strategy forward.

Efficiency and Relevance

Having so much learning content inside and outside the enterprise can be confusing and crowded. How can technology help employees find their way to the best learning instead of just crawling through hundreds or thousands of learning items? The answer is twofold.

First, L&D departments must be better at curating evolving paths to help employees find structure and relevance in the learning they are pursuing. Increasingly, the structure needs to leverage not just learning on the corporate network, but the best learning across the world. Technology is key in helping L&D curators access and adapt to the ever-increasing options of learning resources.

Second, technology should improve organizations’ skills or leverage partners in machine learning. Many departments are now emphasizing machine learning, but the need to use it in L&D is increasingly apparent. A simple Google search for “intro to marketing” returns millions of results without order and structure. Leveraging machine learning can introduce content and paths to skill development that are personalized for each employee.

In addition, as we gain access to all of this data on learner behavior, it is important to leverage the trends across users to understand which skills are present and which are not. That becomes step one: helping the learner reach the good content. Step two is using the aggregated and fluid data to help employees grow, using the system to recommend even more and better learning content. We will continue to see a rise in technology that is able to grow—a living system that is consistently putting the best learning content in front of learners.

It’s time that businesses recognize that the future of learning technology is already here. Being successful means collaborating with the technology side of the organization to embrace next-generation technologies that empower continuous growth, informal and self-driven learning, curation, skill development, and learning personalization.