Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Ambient Insight Report on Training

The training industry is currently in a state of significant transition. According to the Ambient Insight report, a number of factors are driving the rather dramatic changes that are occurring in the US, including:

  • Steady decline of training budgets and training benefits

  • Rapid decline of internal HR and Training departments in the US

  • Steady reduction of internal IT staffs and IT population in US

  • Migration of staffs and budgets out of legacy buyer organizations and into outsourcing firms

Ambient concludes that the old training industry—pre 9/11, meltdown, stock market crash, IT spending slowdown, downsizing and outsourcing—is gone forever. Organizations are adapting to a new reality in which greater emphasis will be placed on emerging practices and learning technologies, including location-based learning, process-embedded learning, cognitive and affective learning products and personal learning products.

By 2011, the most significant gains are expected in adoption rates of process-embedded learning, virtual labs, virtual classes and live mentoring. In contrast, classroom instruction, while still the most dominant training method as of last year, is expected to decline significantly within five years. Self-paced e-learning products and services are expected to experience declines as well.

Source: Ambient Research 2006 Snapshot of Learning Technology Trends in the U.S. Training Industry Report U.S. IT Training Market Growth

The Problem is finding the Right Information

Downtime due to an inability to find relevant, job task-specific information remains a huge obstacle to worker productivity. Consider these statistics from a recent IDC report:

  • Knowledge workers spend an average of 15% to 20% of their time looking for information.
  • Success rates are less than 50%.
  • Unsuccessful searches in a company employing 1,000 knowledge workers could cost as much as $6,000,000 in time loss annually.

Another survey of technology workers , in this case IT professionals and programmers, concluded that 100% of those surveyed reported having to stop working at one or more times per day to find answers and look for solutions to job-related problems. Of those surveyed, 20% reported having to stop 10 or more times per day. When totaled, this equates to at least 50 interruptions per week.

The study concluded further that technology workers spend approximately seven hours per week looking for answers and researching solutions to problems. Over the course of a month, this represents more than 31 hours of technology worker downtime. When measured across an enterprise of 500 technology workers, the costs of worker downtime could equate to as much as $7.5 million per year—a staggering impact to profitability.

Addressing the Problem

So how is this problem being addressed? The answer is, simply, not very well. Despite significant research that confirms that most worker learning takes place outside of the classroom, organizations continue to rely largely on costly instructor-led training as a primary solution. A recent Training Magazine industry report provided some interesting statistics pertaining to how training budgets are being allocated. In calendar year 2005:

  • $51.1 billion was budgeted for formal training.
  • 70% of that budget was allocated to classroom instruction with live instructors.
  • $13.5 billion was spent on training products and services, up $.2 billion from the previous year.
  • 26% said that training budgets were up from the previous year.

Costs for continuous employee development are enormous. However, in spite of continued trends toward allocation of training budgets to formalized classroom instruction, the tide is now beginning to turn. There is significant discussion and debate in learning circles about the effectiveness of formal learning, and greater emphasis is being placed on more informal, process-embedded approaches to learning among industry thought leaders.

Performance support systems have, whether deserved or not, had the reputation of being rather costly to design and implement, which is one of the primary reasons for their only recent emergence as credible alternatives to established training paradigms. Furthermore, the rapid emergence of performance support is being fueled by recent advances in technology. This is allowing organizations to deliver highly effective, process-embedded resources in ways that were simply not possible just a year ago.

How will Process-Embedded Learning Benefit Your Organization?

Perhaps some of the most interesting statistics on the benefits of process-embedded learning can be found in a 2006 report of IT learning technology trends produced by Ambient Insight, LLC, which arrives at the following conclusions:

  • Rapid e-learning is too slow. Process-embedded learning is, by comparison, very fast.
  • Process-embedded Learning products reduce content creation and maintenance costs by as much as 60-80%.
  • Average cost of a help desk call in the U.S. is $125 per incident. Process-embedded learning can reduce help desk calls by 60% to 75%.
  • Process-embedded learning eliminates lost opportunity costs associated with taking a user out of production to attend a training class or complete an e-learning course. 22

Following are additional benefits that one can expect from a process-embedded, performance-centric approach to worker instruction:

  • Reduced learning time
  • Higher levels of worker productivity
  • Less reliance on others when completing job-related tasks
  • Reduction in implementation costs
  • Increased worker autonomy
  • Better knowledge retention
  • Better customer experiences

Introducing SHO Technology

At Transcensus, all of our combined learning experience has pointed us to the vital importance of connecting learning and readiness to the immediacy of performing the task. With the dramatic changes that are occurring in the IT training industry and the ever increasing need to embed learning within the process, performance support was clearly the right focus, but existing performance support technology solutions and methodologies were difficult to use, difficult to implement, and/or too expensive.

Software applications are challenged with these same issues. It often seems humanly impossible to do what we desire to do, even with advertised features of the software. Transcensus focused on both problems. We desired to put the "human interface" into software and provide moment of need performance support for the masses. Our focused effort resulted in the development of what we call SHO Technology.

Our patent-pending Scripted Human Operator™ (SHO) technology is an exciting innovation in software performance support and user assistance. It allows content developers to create truly interactive software instructional, assistance and support content that interfaces directly with windows software applications. No programming knowledge is required.

SHO content can be embedded directly within the workflow. While completing job related tasks, workers interact directly with the live software application they are attempting to use, instead of a browser, simulation window or other external training interface. In other words, the actual software application is the training interface. SHO technology can be thought of as a virtual instructor or tutor looking over the user's shoulder and offering step-by-step guidance inside the actual software application the user is attempting to use.

In today's economy SHO Guide can effectively reduce costs and improve efficiency throughout any organization with a heavy reliance on their employees use of software.

Please visit for a quick overview of what SHO Guide has to offer you and your company.

Daniel Higbee - VP, Business Development