The future of work is already here, and it looks like this: 60- to 70-year careers, jobs that weren’t around 10 years ago, and a decreasing half-life of skills.

These factors necessitate a change in how we manage both the tools and approaches to delivering learning to our employees. While many of us are struggling to keep up, and unsure of how to engage our employees, our workforce is pushing forward and finding the information on their own. Don’t be fooled into thinking that the workforce will wait for us. The following suggestions will put you in front of this change.

For starters, a mindset change is needed. In software, when a code base is old and hasn’t grown with new technologies and approaches, we call it legacy software. Legacy software is brittle to support, not extensible (easily extended to support new features/changes) and can lead to dissatisfaction for those working with it. In some ways, we have been supporting a legacy learning paradigm that has been difficult to support, unadaptable to learning landscape changes and hampered with dissatisfaction from employees. It is time to move on from this legacy mindset. Supporting learning versus mandating training is the new paradigm. This is a new way of working for most L&D professionals, one that requires new tools.

With an oversaturated sea of vendors and tech, how do you go about picking the right tools? Upgrading doesn’t need to be as painful as “rip and replace.” Integrating an ecosystem of best-in-class solutions can be much more agile, more cost-efficient, and more effective than a monolithic, integrated, all-in-one system.

Building a short-list is simple. Few products will be checkmarks on your feature and function boxes on the RFP. But is that because we’re relying on old criteria, choosing next-gen solutions from last-gen requirements?

We see our most sophisticated clients doing three crucial things differently:

  1. Investing in adaptivity, not efficiency.
  2. Focusing on value, not price.
  3. Selecting an experienced partner, not software.

It’s great that two-thirds of L&D leaders are looking to invest in new technologies to better meet the needs of their workers and their businesses. But systems are truly only part of the answer. When General Mills’ former talent development leader, Susie McNamara, evaluates new technologies for learning, she scrutinizes more than the technology itself: “I not only look at what the technology does and the experience that it’s creating, but I also think about the entire package,” she told us. “What do I get when I buy this? Do I get a team of curators? Do I get a marketing team? Those answers have made my decisions for me in a lot of cases. I’m not just buying a technology or a product. I’m buying an entire team of people. I see them as an extension of my team,” she explained.

Learning happens across different systems and devices, between people and in the real world. Weaving it all into a seamless learning experience takes some work. It takes L&D, HR and IT teams shifting their paradigms and working together.

In many organizations, the tech team is seen as a barrier to implementing new technology. But the truth is, they can be one of your biggest assets. Technology teams are experienced in moving from legacy software/platforms to more cutting-edge technology. They can assist in aligning the detailed technology tasks with the L&D/HR strategy. As you set a clear view into the future of learning at your organization, you will find advocates across your business.

While the future of work can be intimidating, with a few key tools and a strong, strategic approach to employee learning, it can be exciting, enabling and result in a more content, skilled workforce.