April 16th, 2012 by Kelly Liyakasa

In the film adaptation of Walter Kirn’s novel “Up in the Air,” George Clooney plays a power-hungry giver of corporate pink slips until the day a bright, Gen-Y new hire develops a new method to the firing madness – video conferencing.

What follows is the cultural clash between an “old-fashioned” road warrior who loves his frequent flier miles and five-star hotels and a digital prowess who, indeed, finds a way to do the axing in a more cost-effective manner – but who soon realizes some things are better done in person.

She shadows Clooney as he travels to break bad news to corporate types face-to-face as they both realize the realities of their business – and their personal fortitude – along the way. Moral of the story is – it takes all types to make an operation successful. And while reading a brand-new research report, “Digital Learning for Business,” commissioned by ILX Group and conducted by Vanson Bourne, this morning, I drew a parallel between some of the findings and the message of the film.

Examining digital training trends for the enterprise, ILX found that 75 percent of companies surveyed found “blended” training methods to be the most “efficient.” By “blended,” it means combining the cost effectiveness of e-learning with networking and live interaction in a classroom setting, ILX said.

Of which training methods have the most impact on “learning,” 69 percent of respondents considered classroom training that incorporated digital tools like e-learning, games and simulation, to be the most effective way to learn.

When asked what the greatest barrier to training is, 70 percent of organizations said cost, 61 percent said time and 53 percent said management buy-in, ILX found. In the summary of the report, it’s explained that enterprise training used to take a “sheep dip” approach, meaning training did not have a lasting effect as employees returned to work as usual after taking a course or hearing a presentation of some kind.

But what we’re seeing now is a “digitalization” of learning as consumer devices like smartphones and tablets continue to infiltrate the work environment. Interconnected TV and gaming consoles also play a critical role. The field is wide open for organizations to develop a new and workable training methodology that doesn’t necessarily emphasize a projector and a desktop PC.

One of the key steps, ILX found, is figuring out what you’re teaching and who you’re training. Approximately 54 percent of respondents said leadership and management skills are what they most want to work on in training. Right behind management skills was risk management, at 47 percent of respondents. Interestingly, customer service was somewhere in the center of the list, with 35 percent of respondents citing that as a plausible reason for training.

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