Archive for category ROI

What’s In, What’s Out for Training in 2012

Having just returned from presenting at the Training 2012 Conference, it’s a good time to reflect on the emerging trends for the year, using this major event as a litmus test for the industry.  Hours spent walking the expo floor, talking to numerous delegates, listening to the keynotes and participating in many break out sessions, I’m left with the impression that our world has changed in the last year or two.  My own observations would lead me to believe that we have shifted from being caught up in many futuristic technologies to the more pragmatic development and delivery of effective training.

Here’s my top 3 “What’s In and What’s Out” list.

WHAT’S IN

#1 A Results Orientation
This top trend was not just apparent in the conversations regarding measurement and business impact, but there was also a prevailing theme of the importance of how we deliver training.  There was a much stronger emphasis on the training method as being vital to achieving the desired impact upon the learner and the organization.

#2 Blended Learning
There is a continual and understandable focus on delivering training, or better still enabling training, in multiple and different ways.  I was at the conference to deliver a session on best practices for live virtual training as part of the very extensive and well-attended conference stream on the live virtual classroom.  Although I haven’t counted, I would estimate that at least 30% of all the breakout sessions focused on what we could call a non-traditional way of delivering training.  There is clearly a plethora of ways to enable training other than putting people into a physical classroom and yet there is some sort of notable fear of change that leads people to cling to the tradition of the physical classroom setting where learners are held hostage for several days while information is fire-hosed at them.  Seriously, is that the best we can do?  Wake up and look around you, that isn’t the way we work, play or learn anymore!  Let’s step up as learning leaders and focus on the new methods that translate into more effective ways in which to develop and deliver training experiences.

#3 Sales Training
It has been a few years since I saw the emphasis on training sales teams that there was at this event.  A number of the breakout sessions were focused purely on training sales people.  Connecting this observation with my #1 above, I also saw that just about every session or conversation on sales training revolved around how to deliver sales training that directly impacts sales results.

WHAT’S OUT

#1 Avatars
The focus we saw just a few years ago that would have led us to believe that the future of training would see us all immersed in virtual reality and learning through the use of an avatar has all but disappeared.  Not to say I didn’t see some very effective ways in which to learn using the online word and simulation, but the total simulated “second life” style of learning seems to have lost its gloss.  Perhaps this is a direct result of the undeniable trend of cost cutting.  To create effective immersive virtual reality is anything but cheap.

#2 Technology for Technology’s Sake
No doubt many participants had iPads and various tablets with them, and many of the exhibitors may have been using these devices too, but the focus we saw a year ago on mobility and technology seems to have diminished.  Once again, I would suggest that this is the result of tightening budgets and a focus on what we can do today to impact results.  It is no longer about the technology itself–it’s about how we enable effective learning.

#3 Motivation Masquerading as Learning
For far too many years we have seen what I would call motivational events, games or speakers being used in the training landscape.  While there is nothing wrong with a good motivational event to “pump up” the crowd, these can’t be mistaken for training that delivers new learning.  Perhaps as a result of my #1 observation of What’s In, I see the focus moving away from motivation masquerading as learning.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the motivational speaker at an event as much as anyone else, but as was noted at several times throughout the conference, enabling effective learning and delivering results does not come down to a motivational event.

As ever, I enjoyed the ability to mix and mingle with so many leaders in the world of training, and perhaps pick up on a few of the trends that will drive us and the industry during the course of 2012.

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Martyn Lewis to Speak at Elliott Masie’s Learning 2011

We’re very excited to announce that 3g Selling Principal & Founder Martyn Lewis will be speaking next week at Elliott Masie’s Learning 2011 in Orlando, Florida.

Martyn will be presenting with our partners at Citrix Online and during the course of this highly informative and engaging session he’ll be delving into the hot topic of how to maximize the ROI from virtual learning.

Session #514
Driving Virtual Learning ROI
Martyn Lewis, 3g Selling
Bob Lee, Citrix Online
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
8:00-9:00 a.m.
Room: Coronado G

Session Description
Join Citrix Online and Martyn Lewis, Principal and Founder of 3g Selling, as we push “beyond the spreadsheet” to explore the strategic issues that define the success of training programs in today’s technology-enabled, mobile workforce. During this session, we will share real-world examples of how to leverage the power of live virtual training for richer, more impactful and engaging learning experiences.

In This Session, You’ll Learn…

  • The key elements for designing an effective learning architecture that enables a continuous learning environment
  • When and why self-guided learning is optimal versus facilitated learning and how the chosen modality impacts ROI
  • How the live virtual classroom can deliver greater results than the physical classroom
  • Ways to truly maximize the return on investment for your organization’s training dollars

Attend the Session and Win!
One participant from the session will win a FREE one-day, onsite consulting workshop from 3g Selling.

This workshop is called “3 Steps to Effective Continuous Learning: Creating the Enabling Architecure.” The workshop takes an innovative yet pragmatic approach to defining an overall learning architecture that is required to enable a continuous learning environment for the organization. The workshop will help define the optimal training approaches, modalities and plan that are unique to your organizational learning requirements.

The workshop is valued at over $5,000 and includes facilitator travel and accommodation.

To enter, just leave a business card with Bob or Martyn during the session or sign in on the sheet we’ll have available.

For more information on this offer, please visit www.3gSelling.com/3steps/.

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Discovering the Power of Broadcast Media in Training

Business survival in the 21st century requires effective ways to transfer knowledge and train a new generation of the professional workforce. This means we need to make the most of new technologies—not just port 20th and even 19th century learning techniques from the physical classroom onto the web. But adopting new technologies does not mean we should discard the best of time-proven communications techniques.

For more than a decade, I ran a successful sales and marketing consulting company. One night, while I was in a hotel room after a long day attending a conference, I decided to watch a TV documentary about 19th century firearms in the hopes that it would put me to sleep. Instead, a few minutes into the program, I was hooked and watched the entire program with complete attentiveness.

Here’s the epiphany that came of that experience: If a documentary of no intrinsic interest could engage me so completely, why not apply these same broadcast techniques to virtual training? After months of researching broadcast media studios, visiting media departments at academic institutions, and meeting with other media specialists, we built live virtual training programs that integrate broadcast media techniques with the best practices of training. We chose the live versus the asynchronous approach because of the highly interactive and collaborative possibilities that can come only from live discussion.

In the past year, more than 600 live virtual training sessions have been produced in our studios. Topics range from management and coaching to sales, leadership, and communications training. Each 75-minute session is anchored by a host, who is professionally trained in broadcast media. The host is paired with an expert in a particular subject matter. The set also includes a producer, who facilitates live chat and audio input by the 22 or fewer participants. Most training requires 5 to 10 sessions, spread out over a period of a few weeks or months.

The limited time and number of participants keeps things lively. In one session, we’ve had participants from three different continents—all in different time zones and with different native languages—conversing by phone and live chat with our host, our subject expert, and with each other. By keeping the content of each session fresh and varied, participants stay engaged and alert. We include multimedia elements, including video, animations, and graphics, and comment on completed work assignments, which are assigned at the end of each session.

The trick to building a successful live virtual training program is to be creative. And who is more creative than the entertainment industry?

Here are six lessons we learned in improving live virtual training:

  1. Delivery is the key to success. If you can truly engage your participants, you’re more than halfway there.
  2. Adopting techniques from the entertainment industry, such as broadcast media, is a powerful way to engage your audience while avoiding the drudgery of PowerPoint presentations and top-down lectures.
  3. Scripting is important, but so is spontaneity. Surprise and variety are definitely the spice and seasoning of any training experience.
  4. Pairing trainers with broadcast media professionals experienced in engaging participants is a highly effective way to engage the audience.
  5. Collaboration on work assignments creates greater accountability among participants.
  6. Instead of using case studies, integrate real-life work projects into your training.

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The Path to Virtual Training ROI: A 6.22.11 Webinar with 3g Selling and Citrix Online

3g Selling and Citrix Online: Maximizing the ROI of Virtual TrainingTraining and development leaders are presented with a dizzying array of virtual training modalities and approaches to choose from, but not every path leads to a measurable and sustainable increase in business results.

Finally. A webinar that delves into what it really takes to maximize the ROI of virtual training.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011
11:00 a.m.-Noon (PST)
Click to register for the webinar.

Having delivered over 600 live, instructor-led virtual training sessions for our customers, 3g Selling has a wealth of experience and capability in virtual training design, development and delivery.

In this webinar, you’ll hear from Martyn Lewis—principal and founder of 3g Selling and a respected thought leader on live virtual training— as he delves into the hot topic of what it takes to maximize the ROI of virtual training.

Pushing beyond the usual discussion of travel-related cost savings and convenience, Martyn discusses the deeper issues that can make or break the success of any training program—whether physical or virtual—in today’s technology-enabled world.

Emphasizing practical application of virtual training best practices, the webinar will equip training decision-makers with:

  • The ROI model for live virtual training vs. physical classroom training
  • The critical difference between live and asynchronous virtual training, and how the chosen modality impacts ROI
  • The optimal architecture of a total, continuous learning environment
  • The factors that training executives need to measure when evaluating ROI
  • The top 5 traps that inhibit virtual training ROI—and how to overcome them

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Can the Internet Train Your Employees Better?

Since the great recession of 2008, most high-tech companies—even successful ones like Google—have been trying to cut costs while maintaining the quality of their services. This might seem like an impossible task unless one takes into account the enormous economic advantages introduced by the Internet. Less than a decade ago, it cost on average $7,000 to $10,000 to train an employee in a three-day program held in a physical classroom—and that doesn’t take into account the cost of lost work time. Nowadays, using the Internet, one can design a customized training program for sophisticated enterprise workers at a cost of $1,500 per employee—with no lost time away from work except for the actual time required for participating in training.

More and more companies are indeed embracing virtual training programs. Given the prediction by market intelligence firm IDC that by 2013, at least 75 percent of the U.S. workforce will be made up mobile workers, virtual training makes economic sense. Not only is cost a factor, but environmental factors like reducing carbon emissions from travel also play a part. Virtual training fits into the new era of sustainability and a green way of doing business.

Virtual training can take on a variety of forms. One particularly effective mode of learning is live virtual training, in which the instructor or mentor communicates with participants in real time. Live virtual training enables workers to communicate and collaborate with each other as well as with the instructor in real time. Such training creates a truly interactive environment, unlike the top-down, one-way method of instruction often typical of the traditional classroom.

Another advantage of live virtual is the ability to deliver training in small and highly relevant packages rather than in huge batches. Research has shown that knowledge delivered this way yields superior results in terms of the amount of information processed and retained over a period of time. According to a 2010 Citrix training study, 80 percent of companies that have tried live, instructor-led virtual training now use it as their dominant mode of corporate training. Unless we believe that the vast majority of companies that have embraced live virtual training have done so only to cut costs with complete disregard for training results—which is unlikely—this number argues against the concerns of virtual training skeptics

If you’re considering adopting a live virtual training approach, you should evaluate any options based on the design of a program, its approach to delivery, and of course, how the content matches your training needs. You should also consider the options a vendor can provide that help you to maximize your training investment. Most importantly, you should see measurable, swift and lasting business results.

For the thousands of companies that have already made the leap, live virtual training is turning one-time skeptics into true believers, as evidenced by their broad adoption of virtual as the dominant mode of training throughout the multinational high-tech industry. What’s going to make the adoption of live virtual a lasting success for both the organization and the individual is the deployment of a training format that’s built around a clear set of training objectives, and that incorporates the strategies and best practices that make the web a unique and powerful tool for learning and collaboration.

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On the Internet, Expect To Cut Your Profit Margins by Half

The New Economic Reality of Virtual Services

In the days when I used Increase ROI with Live Virtual Trainingto sell computer solutions to Fortune 500 companies, a 50 percent profit margin was the norm. That kind of mark-up is hard to achieve today, and in fact, for almost everything delivered online – software, media, and services such as sales training – profit margins have been slashed from a high of 50 percent or more down to 20 percent or less. (In this world, even Google’s margin of 30 percent is considered extraordinary.)

In the case of sales training, clients aren’t willing to pay as much if it’s delivered virtually rather than face-to-face. That’s because people tend to think virtual training won’t be as good. They also think it costs less to produce something online than in a physical location. In fact, both preconceptions are false.

At 3g Selling, for example, participants in our virtual sales training program consistently achieve far higher retention of the material compared with those taking similar programs offered in a physical classroom. Our program is conducted live in bite-size chunks over a period of several weeks to ensure retention and ongoing work application. When the same content is delivered in a physical classroom over a period of days, most of the knowledge is lost within a period of weeks.

The other misconception about virtual programs is cost. At 3g Selling, our sales training is conducted online in five 75-minute modules. Each program is live and led by a trained delivery team, which includes a host, subject expert, and producer, who runs the backend of the session and engages participants through chat. The costs for producing each module are significant, yet to stay competitive, our price remains lower than similar training programs, whether physical or virtual. (On top of the low price for virtual training, our clients save as much as 45 percent because there’s no travel or lost work time.)

As a long-time entrepreneur, I’m learning the new realities of revenue generation on the Internet. The days of earning high profits for services are rapidly diminishing. In the training business, we are getting ahead of the curve by offering a better product at a cheaper price. That means we will exist on lower margins. It also shifts the emphasis from IP to operational excellence. To make a profit in this new world we have to focus on logistics – using technology and process in innovative ways.

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