How the Mobile Moment of Need Is Reshaping Corporate Training

Providing a consumer-like experience, mLearning enables mobile users to easily find the information they need, in the timeframe they need it, and in context with the task, process, or issue they face.

While employees still occasionally attend face-to-face trainings and classroom-based instructional sessions, most work-based learning increasingly is happening on the job, in the actual moment of need. With self-paced, self-discovered knowledge, employees can get—and remain—informed and productive faster than ever. Instead of sitting in an office reading training manuals on a computer or spending day after day in a corporate training center, employees can absorb the content they need on their tablet or smartphone on their own terms—when and where they need it.

Whether it’s an equipment operator accessing a brief video in the cab of his earthmover or a sales rep refreshing her memory about a product demonstration before a crucial sales meeting, this new breed of mobile learning—mLearning—is changing the face of corporate training and increasing the ability of the workforce to reach peak efficiency sooner.

The Growing mLearning Trend
According to Training magazine, U.S. businesses invest more than $70.6 billion per year in employee training and development to provide an average of 40 hours of training per employee. That’s a sizable investment. However, if that training content and expert knowledge isn’t available to workers on a continuous basis while they’re mobile, those investments may not translate into the productivity, efficiency, and performance boosts that businesses anticipate.

That’s because mobility matters. Compared to e-learning on a desktop or laptop where users were fine with toggling between multiple screens and application experiences, today’s mobile device users are more likely to reject a learning solution in which the content, navigation, and learning experience are not optimized for the mobile device.

In 2013, Toward Maturity found that 43 percent of learners rate the ability to access training content from a mobile device as “essential” or “very useful.” That trend will only accelerate as Millennials continue to become a greater percentage of the workforce. Here’s why: By definition, formal training is largely something that’s imposed on or required of workers. By contrast, learning is something you choose to do. And choice is important to Millennials. Unlike their older peers, younger workers thrive when they have the ability to decide how and when they will consume content and acquire knowledge. Millennials reject instructor-led classroom training and prefer to collaborate with fellow employees. And Baby Boomers who now are exiting the workforce will take their knowledge with them unless the organization finds ways to transfer that knowledge to the next generation of employees.

With the pace of business today, it’s not practical for employees to learn everything they need to know in advance, nor is that how Millennials like to learn. They want to acquire knowledge and solutions to problems in the actual, immediate moment of need, in small, digestible chunks. This style requires organizations to remove obstacles, provide access to knowledge networks, and foster collaboration.

How mLearning Works
mLearning makes learning experiences, content, and knowledge portable for a mobile workforce. It provides an on-demand, consumptive content experience that delivers knowledge and expertise, embedded into an employee’s workflow, across all content types, satisfying the need for anywhere, anytime information on any mobile device, regardless of online or offline connectivity. Providing a consumer-like experience, mLearning enables mobile users to easily find the information they need, in the timeframe they need it, and in context with the task, process, or issue they face—a necessity for Millennials.

By creating training content that’s optimized for mobile devices, employers provide employees with a more convenient learning atmosphere in which they can review training content anytime, anywhere. For instance, imagine a copy machine repair man who is dispatched to an office that has an older copier, one he hasn’t seen before. Instead of a lengthy on-site visit, multiple phone calls to supervisors and peers, and return visits that drive up costs and irritate customers, mLearning allows him to access a series of videos from the training archive right from his mobile device. With a few taps, he can view a two-minute video that shows him, step by step, how to disassemble the old copy machine and replace the defective parts. The result: He can solve the problem in fewer than 30 minutes and continue with his day.

mLearning’s Impact on Corporate Training
On-demand mobile access to training content on a smartphone or tablet increases productivity and reduces training costs, improving both revenue and profitability. For instance, facilitating field-service calls through a mobile device translates into increased rates of first-time repairs, which increases service billings, decreases expenses (including overtime and travel), and accelerates time-to-issue-resolution to increase customer satisfaction. This, in turn, strengthens customer loyalty/retention.

In addition, mobile devices provide a unique way for organizations to measure content usage, engagement, and effectiveness, building the mLearning ROI case. With increased, quantifiable insight into the effectiveness of their training content and curricula, organizations can collate the content and tactics of top performers to prompt new hires—right on their mobile device—to adopt those same tactics, saving time and training costs for new employees by as much as 50 percent.

The New Face of Corporate Training

The mobile movement is requiring organizations to rethink their training strategies and create learning programs especially designed for mobile devices. By delivering learning and education on mobile phones, PDAs, or tablets, mLearning allows students to learn virtually anywhere. Mobile devices can have an enormous impact on organizations that are willing to challenge and change their methods for how people learn and acquire access to valuable knowledge that lives everywhere and within everyone.

Brian Cleary is Chief Strategy Officer at bigtincan, a mobile content enablement company. For more information, visit http://www.bigtincan.com or follow @bigtincan on Twitter.

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