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Skillsoft Perspectives 2018 – A Vision For The Future of Corporate Learning

Key Stakeholders: CHRO, Chief Learning Officers, Talent Acquisition Directors and Managers, Learning & Development Directors, Training Managers, Corporate Education Managers, LMS Managers

On April 11th – 13th, Amalgam Insights attended Skillsoft Perspectives as both analysts Hyoun Park and W. Todd Maddox, Ph.D. looked at the latest advances in Skillsoft’s platforms, key narratives from Skillsoft’s customers and partners, and opportunities for pushing the future of corporate learning. Amalgam spoke with key executives and customers while attending keynote sessions and even presenting as well.

Skillsoft’s Keynote Insights

One of the highlights of Skillsoft Perspectives was the keynote presentations, which were broken up between key product announcements and thought leader presentations from Josh Bersin, Principal and Founder, Bersin Deloitte Consulting; acclaimed marketer Andy Cunningham, Founder, Cunningham Collective; and Wendy Sachs, Author of Fearless and Free: How Smart Women Pivot and Relaunch Their Careers. Amalgam found that Bersin provided his usual insights into the state of the learning and HR market, which are well in line with his reputation as a premier analyst in HR tech. Cunningham provided a deep dive into marketing strategy and positioning, which is an imperative for all learning managers to learn in their branding, communications, and ongoing education programs. Sachs provided an inspiring perspective on the nature of a dynamic career and the need to embrace failure as a vital key to developing careers, an area where men and women often differ in the workplace. The combination provided both practical advice and inspiration to kick off the conference.

In addition, Skillsoft also provided guidance on their product development and roadmap. A couple of key trends that caught Amalgam’s attention included:

Ubiquitous training – Skillsoft highlighted the emergence of ELSA, a product where Maddox provided his perspective in the Skillsoft press release. This shift towards making learning ubiquitous across software platforms is a key step in making training even more immediate than a search-based approach that requires the employee to first move to a separate platform. By moving training closer and closer to the actual work being done, Skillsoft is both accelerating time to education and potentially providing more emotional and immediate feedback that can make learning more powerful.

Well-curated content – As Skillsoft pointed out, “Youtube is not a learning strategy.” The amount of content doubles every year, but the amount of meaningful content does not. This means that good educational content is increasingly being overwhelmed by poor quality content and there is no innate filter to separate these content categories. One of Skillsoft’s value propositions is to provide quality curation in its extensive content library.

Key Breakout Sessions and Insights at Skillsoft Perspectives

In addition to the keynote sessions, Amalgam attended a variety of sessions across our interests of long-term learning, IT governance, women in management, and brain science. Of the sessions we attended, one of the most impressive was a panel on executive and managerial succession moderated by
Brent Colescott of SumTotal and featuring

  • Derek Blake, Senior Director, Global Learning & Development, PSAV
  • Mike Kessler, Chief Learning Officer, BAE Systems
  • Andrea Lawson, Vice President, Talent Management & Diversity, Cox Enterprises
  • Jenifer Whitmer, Director, Employee & Leadership Development, Florida Blue

These Skillsoft’s customers provided a deep and meaningful dialogue on a variety of approaches to create structured succession and skills development programs at scale to support large corporations and organizations. Amalgam took away the key lesson that mentoring and coaching need to be seen as separate activities, as mentoring is seen as more informal while coaching is an active and daily commitment. In addition, the panel emphasized the importance of managers representing the resources and culture of their company to provide clear direction for high potential and early-stage employees.

Amalgam Insights also presented at Skillsoft Perspectives, joining Bersin and Aragon Research as key analyst firms presenting at this show. Analyst W. Todd Maddox presented Broken: Why Your Soft Skills Training Efforts Do Not Work on the current broken state of teaching people skills in corporate environments as well as how to fix this approach through brain science and an analysis of the current technologies available to support soft skills training. Based on Maddox’ 25+ years of experience and $10 million in external research funding, “Broken” provided its audience with the opportunity to learn how the current state of brain research can be used to improve “soft skills,” or as Amalgam prefers to state, “People Skills.” Amalgam both provided a Live Tweet feed of this presentation and made the slides available to interested Perspectives attendees.

Amalgam’s Big Takeaway

Amalgam was extremely impressed with the breadth of functionality and content that Skillsoft has integrated into its learning platforms. However, the next stage for Skillsoft’s evolution is in effectively mapping its immense portfolio of capabilities to the learning patterns of its employees. One of the most common themes that Amalgam heard in panel after panel was how Skillsoft customers consistently used a learning strategy that only appealed to one brain science profile, such as approach or avoidance; global or local; or behavioral vs. cognitive. In the process, Skillsoft’s customers end up leaving out a significant portion of their employee or educational base and then wonder why they can’t get past 60% or 70% adoption.

Skillsoft has an immense opportunity to increase the adoption of its long-term educational assets and content simply by mapping its considerable existing technologies and content to brain science best practices. Amalgam has focused its coverage on the science of learning with the goal of bringing the lessons of primary academic research into the corporate world. As the analyst firm focused on the finance, science, and operations of technology, we know that the biggest challenge in enacting this change is simply getting past the corporate challenges of being interested in brain science and psychological research to improve learning environments. However, the goal is to bring brain science to learning & development environments in digestible chunks, lay terms, and practical narratives that lead the corporate world to adopt the best practices already discovered through millions of dollars of research. Amalgam  will continue working on bridging this gap and we look forward to the opportunity to work with tech-savvy platforms such as Skillsoft to evolve the corporate learning market and elevate all employees.

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