Trends and Forecasts

Supply and Demand Require a Pipeline for Talent

The demand for a skilled workforce will continue to increase. In the global knowledge economy, talent and intellectual capital are the currency. The talent needs of enterprises will broaden and deepen as the competitive environment intensifies. A pipeline for talent will be critical to the competitive edge and bottom line results of enterprises. Critical thinking skills, along with flexible and adaptable skillsets, will be valuable to the individuals, enterprises, and society at large.

Over the next 2-5 years, enterprises must take proactive steps to identify, develop and pursue talent. Corporations are developing strong partnerships, collaborations, and alliances to ensure an ongoing pipeline of talent. Strategic opportunities exist within education, including K-12, trade schools, colleges and universities, as well as with community groups and professional societies, to prepare the next generation workforce.

Technology Backlash - Rise The Use of Appropriate Technology-Based Tools

Decision makers and users in corporations and schools are become increasingly wary of investing in new technology-based learning solutions. As technology became more pervasive and under pressure to cut costs, organizations invested in a range of technology-based solutions for learning and performance support. While there have been clear savings such as travel (both time and out-of-pocket expenses), it has been difficult to measure the return on investment (ROI) on the technology-based learning solutions. It has also been difficult to link the learning solutions to specific performance improvement and/or bottom line results.

Enterprises will continue to deploy new technology for certain learning solutions (e.g., programming skills, regulatory compliance) where the technology has demonstrated value. Technology, however, is no longer the single answer to for learning solutions. Over the next 2-5 years, enterprises are developing frameworks to identify where, when and how technology is integrated so as to take advantage of the critical benefits of informal learning, social networks and, most importantly, the new methodologies and approaches emerging as a result of the new technology.

Strategic Deployment of Learning

Enterprise learning has had a range of goals, from regulatory compliance to company culture to skill development. Corporate Enterprise learning is evolving in two critical ways: it is becoming more strategically definedfocused and it is becoming more decentralized. Business units are increasingly becoming responsible for their talent development, both the solutions and the budget. This enables the business unit to ensure the learning initiatives directly more closely support business strategies. And, as importantly, enables the organization to better monitor the ROI.

Enterprises are re-focusing their goals to find appropriate tools to "develop and support talent" to develop and execute the business strategies rather than "drive learning."

Over the next 2-5 years, most companies organizations will move toward activities diffused throughout the enterprise. Even within corporate universities, business units will take a more proactive role as enterprises move away from a centralized "learning effort".

Global • Group • Virtual

Enterprises are increasingly reflecting the global economy. Customers, suppliers, employees, partners and alliances will continue to be more geographically diverse. Talent and enterprises are coming together as virtual organizations. In addition, teams and projects are increasingly the becoming the organizational norm, similar to the Hollywood industry model. (Talent comes together for a particular film or show; they work together until the project is complete; they do not have a "permanent" relationship with a studio or entertainment company.)

Improvements in networking and networking and vast increases in bandwidth will far surpass communication and collaboration tools available today. In developing global teams with effective, efficient communication through virtual meetings, companiesOrganizations are and increasingly will have to become discriminating and sophisticated in their choices of real time and asynchronous tools about how to develop and sustain relationships, melding new media with it. Digital technologies will be used in conjunction with, not instead of, indispensable face-to-face meetings. Within the next 5 years, metrics for evaluation of global communication and collaboration skills will become standardized/emerge.

Indispensable Watercooler: Informal Learning and Social Networks

Within single industries, competing enterprises view the watercooler as either a waste of time or as incredibly valuable and power. We believe the watercooler is the latter, in fact, indispensable. The watercooler is representative of the power and value of informal learning. Informal learning may occur in both planned as well as spontaneous situations. While the interaction has primarily been face-to-face, technologies will enable the informal learning to extend anywhere, anyplace.

Over the next 2-5 years, enterprises will have a clearer understanding of the value of informal learning that comes from the creation of social relationships. Enterprises will support employees in more sophisticated in the use of their networks. Understanding of the power and value of informal learning will drive smarter choices about how to use technology as a supplement to the informal learning that occurs through experience and both planned and spontaneous face-to-face contact. Technological tools will be developed to maintain and sustain the social and professional relationships within local organizations as well as within the extended enterprise.

Power of Time for Reflection

True learning only occurs when the results are understood and incorporated into future actions and decisions. There is a critical need for a more sophisticated understanding about the value of reflection as well as the technology to support it. If there is no time and/or no ability to reflect (and understand cause and effect), it is unlikely there is sufficient learning to apply to new situations. The frameworks for reflection incorporated into executive level programs need to diffuse throughout the enterprise.

Over the next 3-4 years, companies will integrate time and tools for reflection into talent development initiatives including action learning. This may include access to online communities of practice as well as informal gatherings, face-to-face or technology based. Software providers will continue to improve scaffolded technology to enhance individual reflection and integration of learning into business practices.


To support individual specific talent needs, information, learning and development paths must be relevant, thoughtful and discriminating. Constant change and time to market will require that the solutions be relevant, not necessarily customized. Custom solutions are time intensive and cost expensive. In a fast paced, ever changing environment, wWhere projects and teams are often the basis determinants of for constantly evolving organizations, companies continue to move toenterprises will employ modular, just-in-time, sources talent development elements that are easy to access, navigate, search and integrate.

Companies are becoming more discriminating in their selection of tools to support talent. Over the next 2 years, modular curriculum curricula will be at the disposal of the Chief Learning Officers and within 4 years, development of reusable learning objects will evolve to the point where companies enterprises and individuals can assemble personal learning trajectories. This will enable individuals, project teams, and enterprises to create "personalized" or relevant solutions, based on experience and needs. This is key but essentially informal so perhaps this evolves without company guidance but rather recognition.

Collaboration, Competition , and the Ecosystem

Companies may be customers, competitors and/or collaborators simultaneously as well as over time. Companies are extending relevant information and ideas as well as their talent development investments and making them accessible to various stakeholders and collaborators. This may include customers, suppliers, and in some cases, competitors. The goal is to bring value and increase bottom line results to the entire collaborative ecosystem. This may include relevant information and ideas as well as extending the

There have long been learning or benchmarking expeditions. Through an increasing awareness of the value of social networks, companies are encouraging employees to exchange ideas on the outside corporate boundaries and providing guidelines for finding the balance between collaboration and protecting the protection of intellectual propertywith their networks outside the company . Over the next 2-5 years, private exchanges (previously deployed as extranets) will enable enterprises to share expertise and experience to support the transactions and information sharing.

Attract, Retain, and Inspire Talent

Companies recognize that their ability to provide dynamic learning and professional development opportunities is a magnet. Increasingly, talent potential employees inquire specifically about development and growth opportunities in addition to the compensation packages and benefits programs. In an economy where the best talent moves quickly from enterprise to enterprise to build portfolios of expertise, opportunities for development and growth may be a strategic competitive weapon. Industry studies show that a primary reason for accepting a position is opportunity for development and growth.

Over the next 2-5 years, in order to attract, retain, and inspire talent, development will be a "have to have", not a "nice to have." Just as employees are expected to continuously improve their productivity and performance, so to will enterprises be expected to continuously provide learning and development opportunities.

Individual Responsibility

"Employees becoming responsible for their own learning" was a catch phrase in the last decade that left residual images of workers spending their off-hours in classrooms. Competitive demands, constant change, adaptability and flexibility are causing this phrase to become a reality and a priority. Lifelong - that lifelong individually driven learning opportunities is now seen as a necessity to carry people through multiple workplaces and careers. Some enterprises are allocating discretionary dollars for professional development as budget line items.

Over the next 2-5 years, enterprises will include education / talent development dollars in cafeteria-style benefits package, similar to insurance. Individuals will increasingly be responsible for their own development.

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