Focusing on 2019 Learning Technology

Looking ahead to what the early adopters already know and do.

When 2018 began, the learning technology space was a confusing cacophony of concepts, tools, and marketing lingo. Now, a year later, it is only hazier and noisier. I do believe, however, 2019 is the year the lens will focus, and companies truly will begin to understand the possibilities in front of them—just in time for all those 2020 predictions to come true.

  • This is the year organizations realize the learning experience is not a technology but a strategy, and they will deploy technology to see that strategy through. Technology can’t fix a bad strategy or process. By building a solid, learner-focused strategy based on practical outcomes, companies will be able to deploy an array of technologies that give learners the experiences they need to develop and become successful.
  • This is the year when companies will stop overstating the promise and peril of artificial intelligence (AI) and recognize its real-world applications, and they will realize that fulfilling its true potential remains a few years away. The relentless over-hyping of AI has prevented many companies from embracing and exploring it. By using machine learning in practical ways today, companies can be ready for what AI will do five to 10 years from now. 
  • This is the year virtual reality finally sheds the last vestiges of its 1980s heritage and is adopted across a wide spectrum of use cases. It’s not just for video games and terrible movies anymore. Practical uses abound, thanks to constraints created by safety, logistics, and budgets.
  • 2019 is the year the shift from more traditional learning environments begins in earnest. Until now, it has been difficult to do more than talk about the change. That’s because most companies are saddled with legacy technologies that are difficult to replace and mountains of older content that doesn’t meet modern needs. Companies finally are investing more resources in new places, and content is being updated and created at a rapid pace.

Overall, this will be the year when the path blazed by early adopters becomes crowded with the masses (see you in 2025, laggards!). The talk has been talked and the walk will be walked. Emerging technologies of the last couple of years have proven their value and are becoming the standard. 

One area I don’t expect to clear up in 2019 is consolidation in the technology market. I don’t expect activity to slow down, although the market is running out of attractive acquisition targets. As companies absorb each other, you might expect the market to become more streamlined. Lately, however, confusion abounds as it can be difficult to foresee what the end result of these deals might be. The most successful deals are ones that either assimilate quickly, or state from the outset that the acquired provider will continue to operate as its own entity. 

So where are you? Are you a bleeding-edge company that experienced all this in 2018? Are you squarely in the middle, ready to make your move? Perhaps your organization is still waiting to see how this whole Internet thing works out before you jump in? 

Here’s to an exciting, productive, and successful 2019!

David Wentworth is principal learning analyst at Brandon Hall Group. The firm’s vision is to inspire a better workplace experience, and its mission is to empower excellence in organizations around the world through its research and tools. Brandon Hall Group has five HCM practices and produces the Brandon Hall Group HCM Excellence Awards and Excellence in Technology Awards; Women In Leadership Summit 2019: May 1-2, 2019; and the annual HCM Excellence Conference, in West Palm Beach, FL, February 4 -6, 2020.

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