Top 11 Predictions That We See Impacting HR and Talent For 2017 – Prediction 10


Research Report Bersin by Deloitte


The corporate L&D market is undergoing one of its most disruptive times in the last 15 years.


Prediction 10: The L&D Function Will Continue to Struggle

We started our research in the early 2000s by studying e-learning and the rapid adoption of learning management technology. Since then, the rate of change in L&D has been relentless and, frankly, I believe the entire profession has had a hard time of keeping up.


Figure 17- Rapid Evolution of Corporation Learning - Sources by Bersin by Deloitte, 2016.


Consider Figure 17. Only 15 years ago, the concepts of “e-learning” were just beginning; we spent billions of dollars figuring out how to take instructor-led training (ILT) and put it online. In those days, bandwidth was slow; we had to build Flash movies (an old technology that allowed video to run in a browser); we had no real mobile devices; and courses were carefully designed with animations and slow navigation. People loved it because it replaced ILT but, in retrospect, it now seems primitive.

In the mid 2000s, we moved to blended learning, virtual classrooms, and a myriad of technologies for simulation, gamification, and eventually social learning. All of these technologies added value, steadily increasing the instructional fidelity of content— but, of course, they were expensive to build and often long to consume.


Around 2006, YouTube entered the market and the combination of YouTube, the iPhone (2008), and Google and other search engines unleashed the market for self-authored video. Initially, videos were used to promote very simple things (how to replace the SIM card in your Blackberry, for example) but over time they became more popular. The launch of Khan Academy (around 2006) represented a breakthrough, because Sal Khan proved that any individual could take their own expertise and produce it in a useful instructional form without expensive e-learning production. Since then, the world has not gone back.

Today, we see learning produced by thousands of sources (e.g., MOOCs, universities, experts, professional associations); most of them are expert-authored video with increasing levels of entertainment, interactivity, and assessment. Today, between Coursera, EdX, NovoEd, Udacity, Udemy,, Skillsoft, Grovo, and dozens of other content creators, literally millions of video-based courses are available on the Internet. you, as a consumer, can buy or take almost all of them.

This consumerized learning market (which actually was attempted in the early 2000s but never really took off) has been catalyzed by our mobile phones, the fact that video plays everywhere, and the enormous amount of bandwidth we have in homes, hotels, offices, and coffee shops. (I just spent an afternoon in a coffee shop in Berkeley and the entire place was filled with students quietly watching videos of their courses.)

While all of this progress and wonderfully integrated technology has evolved, the poor corporate learning market has been left behind. Until recently, corporate LMS systems have been designed for the old model of e-learning—they typically have difficult-to-use interfaces and they view video as an afterthought. So most big companies (small companies often have the benefit of starting afresh) are burdened with very complex learning management systems that house all of the company’s compliance training, critical tracking of completions, and arcane business rules which have been built up over decades. This new world of “YouTube-style” learning is just not available.

While all of this has been going on, L&D has been trying to reinvent itself and is now adopting design thinking, starting to build apps (see Prediction 7), and realizing that it has to become video producers, not just instructional designers. In many ways, I believe the L&D profession is more exciting and fun now than it has been for a decade, but the technologies that help us to manage this stuff have not quite arrived yet.

In 2017, we will see a real revolution start to happen. Workday Learning, Oracle’s video learning platform, SAP Jam, SumTotal’s new platform, Saba, Cornerstone OnDemand, and fast-growing companies like Grovo and now LinkedIn Learning (a whole new platform which integrates LinkedIn with all the content) are coming to market. These new platforms are video-optimized from the start—they bring together the consumer-like experience of YouTube with corporate features for learning management, and they are starting to find ways to integrate and incorporate MOOCs and other forms of external content. Innovative companies like Degreed, Pathgather, and Edcast are now building “learning experience” systems that sit in front of the LMS, making the entire experience far more integrated and compelling.



As this shift takes place, however, I believe the L&D profession itself has some reinvention to do. While many forward-thinking learning professionals are well along on this journey, I am afraid that almost two-thirds of the companies we survey are still stuck in an older model of corporate training. In 2017, we are going to republish our most well-known study, The High-Impact Learning Organization and, in the process, try to help you to see where the new “high-impact” digital learning organization is going.

One thing we know, which is well-described in our research, is that highly effective L&D teams embed themselves in the business. Level 4 maturity companies have relatively small corporate L&D organizations (while many do have a corporate university); they focus heavily on embedding L&D people, skills, content, and technology into the business. Without this “federated model,” learning is never quite aligned or relevant to every day needs.

Figure 18- The Learning Organisation Maturity Model - Sources by Bersin by Deloitte, 2016.

But what has really changed for 2017 is the fact that today L&D should embrace “self-directed learning” and truly build a “learning experience” that helps individuals at all levels to learn all of the time. This means adopting microlearning and an open video learning platform:

  • Highlighting the issues of learning culture for leaders
  • Prompting people to look at job rotation and continuous onboarding programs
  • Helping leaders to understand that coaching, developmental assignments, and career conversations are the foundation of building a learning organization


If we go back to my first theme in this report, “digital organizations” are learning all the time. This means people are trying things, discussing mistakes, and learning on the job. L&D needs to take the lead in building and encouraging all of these cultural values—and in embedding themselves into the business to do so.

Case in Point: The New World of Learning Experiences

One of the leading examples of this is a company we have been working with for years, AT&T. It operates in one of the most competitive and disruptive markets in the world—and its employees and engineers must constantly be learning.

The company has built an “always-on” learning model that encourages (and forces) everyone to develop themselves on a continuous basis. Leaders are coached and rewarded for the learning of their teams, and the learning environment is digital and consumer-like.52

GE, Mastercard, Nestle, and many others of our clients have done the same.

I believe 2017 will be a tipping point for L&D and we will see dozens of world-class “digital learning” solutions all over the world.

Other Predictions:

Prediction 1: Organizational Design Will Be Challenged Everywhere
Prediction 2: Culture and Engagement Will Remain Top Priorities
Prediction 3: Real-Time Feedback and Analytics Will Explode in Maturity
Prediction 4: A New Generation of Performance Management Tools Will Emerge
Prediction 5: A Focus on “Human Performance” and Wellbeing Will Become a Critical Part of HR, Talent, and Leadership 
Prediction 6: Focus on Employee Experience Will Overcome Process Design in HR
Prediction 7: Digital HR and Learning Will Help Us to Reinvent L&D and HR Systems
Prediction 8: The Leadership Market Will Start a Steady Process of Reinvention
Prediction 9: Diversity, Inclusion, and Unconscious Bias Will Become a Top Priority
Prediction 11: The Future of Work Is Here and HR Is in the Hot Seat


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