Nothing gets approved in the enterprise world unless there’s a solid business case attached to it and it’s no different when it comes to evangelizing Interactive Learning programs. It’s not like the business cases don’t exist. According to Forbes.com, some 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies use eLearning for professional development and more than 72 percent of U.S. companies think online learning gives them a competitive advantage.
Businesswire reports that the eLearning market space will be valued at $331 billion by 2025. The anecdotal reporting of the benefits of eLearning are legion, but the question as always, is how will eLearning benefit your bottom-line? The answer is simple enough, we know that ongoing training is essential to a multitude of desirable business goals:
- Employee retention: Happy employees who are growing their skills tend to stay put.
- Engagement: eLearning drives engagement and of the technologies available such as simple videos, interactive modules, and instructor-led interactive learning.
- Productivity: A much quoted IBM study suggests every investment in $1 of training generates $30 in productivity gains.
How, then do you put those benefits into a business model and quantify the dollars invested against the dollars returned?
All of the above have price tags. Retaining employees means retaining knowledge and money. Onboarding a new employee and exiting the outgoing position costs for IT support, HR resources and diverted resources to get the new hire up to speed, not to mention low or no productivity in the initial ramp up. And engaged employees are more productive and that goes straight to the bottom line. Given that ongoing training is a must-do for any enterprise the question then becomes which form of training provides the best value to disseminate information effectively and to large groups who may also be widely geographically distributed.
Indeed, IBM’s stats show up to 85 percent of participants prefer traditional instructor-led classes instead of digital learning. That’s because for years the most obvious model was to send groups of employees to a single location where an instructor, a subject matter expert, either on staff or an outside source, was brought in to conduct a series of classes over three or four days. And it worked great except for the cost. For every class, you have to pay for the overhead, the materials, and the instructor. In fact, Bersin by Deloitte, suggests half of the administrative costs of training programs are eaten up by trainer costs.
Further, IBM found in its own transition to online training, that up to 40 percent of off-site training costs are spent on travel and lodging. And so there had to be some business case modeling put in place to convince stakeholders that virtual classrooms are a viable alternative. The alternatives, of course, are to bring the instructor to the business location but if your offices and employees are spread over a continent or several continents, how then do you ensure the consistency of messaging and training standards? It also becomes a logistical and impractical task to constantly ship the instructor to new locations. Clearly, then the online line has a distinct cost advantage over off-site or in-office learning.
The question, then is, which online learning format presents the best ROI in terms of complexity of concepts delivered, participant engagement, retention of materials presented against all associated costs, direct and indirect?
We’d have to say an instructor-led, virtual classroom acting as an interactive live video learning environment wins hands down…. or was that Hands Up!
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