Beyond L&D: Why is Learning Moving to the Frontlines of Business?

Richard Posluszny ·

Feb 17, 2021

A cultural shift in how we approach growing and scaling businesses is underway. 

At the root of this is the introduction of Learning Operations, where we’ve cultivated a strategic framework and the supporting technology. Learning Ops better positions learning-powered initiatives within today’s leading organizations and dispels conventional beliefs about Learning & Development (L&D) and its contribution to growing businesses. 

Until recently, it was virtually impossible for L&D teams to prove the ROI of their programs. For this reason, learning has traditionally taken a backseat to more obvious — and measurable — initiatives in other business units (e.g., Sales, Marketing etc.). 

But it would be a mistake to blame L&D professionals for this. After all, they’ve been busy doing their best with legacy systems while our best technologists and software engineers have been focused on developing sophisticated sales and marketing solutions. 

Over the last 5 years, however, much work has been done to better understand what strategic learning programs can do for the business. 

That has translated into sophisticated learning solutions that integrate with existing business systems, thereby enabling the measurement and optimization of learning programs built for scale. We finally have case studies to show the world what’s possible and the technology to help professionals get there for themselves.  


This is Only the Start

We’re just entering a period of time where learning gets the attention and prioritization that’s been due. The impact of 2020’s global pandemic essentially served as the catalyst that accelerated this inevitable shift. There is still a long way to go, however. 

Until recently, both our methods and technology were preventing teams from measuring the ROI of online training. While there’s a handful of companies that have already unlocked the growth that comes with implementing Learning Ops, most still struggle with aligning their L&D efforts to ROI. 

According to the Linkedin Workplace Learning Report in 2017, only 4% of CEOs see ROI from L&D. Further, a Bersin research paper reported that only 14% of L&D departments felt they were fully aligned with top business executives.

Contrast the data above with the findings from IBM’s The Value of Training Report and you have a compelling case for finally setting aside the time needed to establish Learning Ops at your company: 

    • 84% of employees in Best Performing Organizations are receiving the training needed to accomplish their goals.
    • Only 21% of new hires intend to stay at companies that do not offer training for their current jobs
    • 62% of new hires intend to stay when training is provided
    • A full 90% of organizations do not have all the skills they need to be successful

Related Reading: Why Yesterday’s Learning Technology is Falling Short Today.

You may think that if only 4% of CEOs see ROI from traditional L&D programs, the reason must be that it’s just too hard to do L&D properly. The reality is, that’s simply not the case. 

Today’s professionals just have to know where to look for guidance, leverage best-in-breed technology and then continue to improve upon their results. 

This is precisely why we created the Learning Ops flywheel. 

Related Reading: Your Secret Weapon for Growth in 2021 and Beyond: Learning Ops.


Employees Aren’t the Only Ones Who Need Training

For a growing number of digital- and tech-enabled service businesses, Marketing and Customer Success teams are being called to the frontlines to tackle the costly problem of churn. As digital products and software become more complex to use, businesses are being made painfully aware of how critical it is to effectively onboard and continually educate their customer base. 

Keeping customers satisfied (CSAT) as your product evolves and your install base grows is a challenge. To solve for this, today’s leaders are turning on customer education programs

The thinking here is that better trained users are more loyal and, therefore, stickier. If Marketing and Customer Success orgs work together, they can effectively extend customer lifetime value (CLTV) and keep customer acquisition costs (CAC) in check — it almost always costs more money to acquire a customer than retain the ones you have. 

Companies engaging their customers with on-demand product information, tutorials and success-related content are able to decrease support costs, minimize churn and improve CSAT. In short, customer education leads to retention.

As mentioned earlier, we’re just now stepping into learning’s time to shine. As more businesses figure out how to develop and maintain healthy learning programs for their workforces, many others will begin experimenting with on-demand customer training — don’t be surprised if lead/prospect training follows soon thereafter.

Take Shopify, for example. It delivered over 148 courses to 400,000+ learners in just three years. And another example, Upland Qvidian, which earned a 2x year-over-year increase in revenue from Qvidian University

Related Reading: Extending Customer Lifetime Value with Customer Education


The Learning Ops Revolution

There’s more than one reason why some of the most innovative companies in the world have moved learning to the frontlines. Primarily, it’s because they’re proving the ROI of their programs by: 

    • Growing faster
    • Reducing onboarding times
    • Reducing churn
    • Reducing time spent on support 
    • Improving their customer satisfaction scores 

For online training programs, data plays a critical role. Its integration into every department helps teams reach success and contributes to increased revenue goals. 

Learning platforms, like Northpass, incorporate tracking and reporting functionality that make it possible to prove the ROI of your programs. 

The Learning Ops revolution has just begun. Make sure you get on board. 


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About the Author

Richard Posluszny

Richard Posluszny oversees Northpass' marketing efforts. When Richard isn't spreading Northpass' gospel, he can be found driving something sporty, at an art gallery or learning more about American history.

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