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Fenia Petran

The challenges for corporate training

1) The need for deep professional skills

The challenge for training in organizations today goes beyond building knowledge and skills.

It is now a war for deep specialization. Businesses can win when they have deeper specialization and deeper skills than their competitors.

* Apple and Samsung are competing on engineering and innovation.
* Amazon outperforms retailers and web service companies because it understands technology better and executes faster.
* Google leads its market because it is more practical and more creative than its competition.

Companies which outperform their competitors have deeper skills, a stronger learning culture, and a deep investment in leadership.

These winning companies continually invest in their technical, professional, and leadership team’s skills.

This “continuous capability development” approach makes them more innovative, responsive, and agile as their markets change.

And employees are more engaged and loyal at these companies, because these companies invest in them.

2) Learning from successful companies

Companies in most industries can learn from the practices employed by companies that have done this successfully.

For example, Google offers a lot of applications that work exactly as their computer software relatives on the desktop, but allow for interaction, sharing, teamwork and storage of data in the cloud.

To stay ahead on the competitive edge, companies need to be continually innovating, better and faster than their competitors can.

They must actually continue to behave according to the mindset of a start-up company, being entrepreneurial and continuing to innovate.

Amazon is a very established and successful company which is able to continually disrupt itself.

The online giant that started by selling books, created the Kindle, launched innovative Web services and moved into the video-on-demand media streaming is always guided by the principle: "It is still day one".

3) Listen to your customers

Investing in customer service and educating customers is as important as it is to sell them a product providing experience they will love.

Customers want a seamless digital experience now. And excellent customer service, like Amazon, Apple and Google provide.

Successful marketing is all about following the fundamentals:
* Be engaging and relevant, or customers will walk away.

Predictive analytics introduces a more scientific approach to marketing, can improve marketers’ effectiveness and help them create value with consumers.

Here are some insights:

a) Develop brand awareness. The need to maintain a high profile for the brand is always very important.

Market share is a priority. And predictive analytics is a key in the efforts to build demand.

b) Analytics provides brand owners with more accurate models of customer behavior. The result is a smarter product development that delivers goods that the market wants.

c) Marketers are already leveraging social media and online groups to realize and improve the potential of communicating with consumers.

Analytics takes that one step further.

It empowers brand owners to extract new product ideas out of streams of data, whether the goal is product extensions or innovative new products.

It also enables companies to collaborate with customers early in the product lifecycle and during product development.

And professional development companies should be willing to implement and test new, customer-driven ideas, all the time.

4) Disruption from the inside out

Sooner or later, even the most disruptive company is vulnerable to disruption.

Companies must keep innovating.

To stay ahead of competitors they need to be able to innovate faster than competitors can.

Companies can not stay on place, they need to keep moving.

And if we speak about disruption, the company should try to disrupt itself, before someone else will do it.

Napster is an example of a company which did it.

Back to 1999, the emergence of Napster and peer-to-peer file sharing radically transformed the music’s business model, enabling consumers to share music files over the Internet for free.

Napster was forced to shut down in 2002, and almost everyone in the industry believed that Napster is dead and gone.

But in 2011 Napster made a return to life as a music streaming site and during the next years adapted to the world of smart phones and streaming music devices.

Napster offers today one of the world's most comprehensive online music collections and provides streaming music access anywhere, anytime, via thousands of mobile devices.

This is a very significant game change for a company which disrupted itself and stays again on the competitive edge.

5) Developing the passion for work

Passionate workers are interested to do meaningful work, work that matters, and they think they can make a real difference for their companies.

They value workplaces that contribute to their personal development as professionals.

They prefer working for companies that invest in developing their capabilities and are keeping their skill sets up-to-date and relevant through constant, continuous learning and development.

They are looking at work challenges as big opportunities for growth.

Career development as a part of passionate workers job is a great way for companies to hire, engage and retain them.

Some of them have a desire to be entrepreneurial, to move into leadership roles, and to have the opportunity to innovate and create.

They see work as a series of experiences that help them learn and develop continually over time.

Employers should give every employee career development opportunities.

Using the power of digital technology infrastructures, there are growing opportunities to connect with talented people outside the organization, whether they are in the supply chain, distribution channels, are customers or are deeply savvy with the technologies and the processes required to deliver more value to customers.

The relationships with external talent and with customers will enable to all participants to accelerate learning and development by working together.

This will also help building significant competitive advantage and innovation, from the inside out.

Fenia Petran

The future of work depends on us

Today, rapid technological advances reduce the lifespan of specific knowledge and skills and an increasingly globalized workforce needs to continuously learn, train and retrain.

A new business landscape is emerging, in which small entities bring new products and services to market, using infrastructure and platforms of large concentrated players.

There is a paradox in this mode of business, because the forces driving these rapid changes are putting heavy pressures and challenges on existing organizations, and at the same time, are bringing many new and promising opportunities.

More and more in the future, successful companies will use the new technologies to capture new growth and business opportunities by increasing production and creating new hybrid business models, exploiting intelligent technologies to promote innovation, and transforming and developing their workforce.

The postsecondary education is seriously affected by fast changing demands, as the learning needs and preferences of the individual learning consumers rapidly evolve.

Increasingly, high-school graduates, higher education graduates and corporate employees need lifelong learning and on-demand learning too, mainly as a response to the pressures of the Big Shift and the evolving economic landscape.

As reported by Cognizant according to a CompTIA survey, 93% of the employers complain of the increasing skills gap in their IT workforce.

According to the "Passion at work" research from Deloitte Center for the Edge up to 87.7% of America's workforce is not able to contribute to their full potential, because they don't have passion for work.

In today's rapidly changing business environment this passion gap is very significant, in the light of the fact that passionate workers have an orientation toward learning and improvement and they are committed to continually achieving higher levels of performance.

In the world of the Big Shift, competition has increased and it is getting harder for businesses to maintain leadership positions and to stay on the competitive edge.

Companies need passionate and inventive workers who can challenge the status quo, can go against the mainstream if necessary, take up difficult challenges and learn from the market forces and trends around them.

As a matter of fact, these workers view challenges as opportunities to learn and improve.

Most existing educational institutions cannot provide suitable learning solutions for the rapid changing needs of today's and tomorrow's learning consumers.

A new ecosystem of learning providers is gradually emerging at the edges of the current postsecondary world.

They are extending the education space beyond grades, degrees, and certificates to provide lifelong learning in a variety of formats and levels of effectiveness.

And very few of these providers are also supplying practical, training-on-the-job capabilities, as well.

Fenia Petran

The roadmap to scalable learning in corporate education

Clear vision and the strategy for formulating a scalable learning technology roadmap are needed industry-wide in the corporate education today.

Such a strategy should incorporate objectives such as.

a) Alignment with organizational and business goals.

b) Extensibility to meet current and future learning needs.

c) Compliance with near-term business requirements.

d) A learning architecture that is seamlessly integrated, intuitive, easy-to-follow and easy-to-use.

e) A scalable learning approach that makes use and takes advantage of high-technology developments, focuses on high-quality consumer service, communication and collaboration and evolves in time by making smart partnerships with participants in the ecosystem who can help make a greater impact on the common domain of interest.

The learning strategy is unique within any organization and should be business-driven, adaptable, iterative, scalable, and designed to evolve over time.

The key to success is to ensure that the whole concept, the choices made and the investment are not made obsolete by technology and organizational changes.

And that the business model enables quick adaptation to rapid changes in consumer needs and requirements, new knowledge, expertise and skills required and competition.

To design an integrated learning architecture, an in-depth analysis and a current-to-future state roadmap are needed, in order to align the learning technology, the content, the training capabilities and the deployment strategies with the business needs.

Although the corporate learning architecture is highly-dependent on the business itself, there is one core part that should be common and standard for all learning organizations.

This refers to the knowledge and the skills needed for the organization managers at all levels to act as team leaders and to move their organization forward.

These topics are normally part of the curriculum studied in Business Schools and include three major themes:

1) Leadership and organizational behavior with focus on how managers can become great leaders by addressing and improving the human side of the organization.

A compelling method is to look at successful leaders in action to see how they develop a vision for the future, how they align the organization behind this vision and how they motivate, develop and attract passionate workers to achieve this vision.

2) Marketing with focus on the leading role of marketing in the company, how effective marketing builds on a deep understanding of the customers and how to create more value for them.

3) The intersection between business, technology and operations, with focus on the processes underlying the development and manufacture of products, as well as the creation and delivery of services.

By applying the acquired knowledge and skills in their organization, the company managers will be comfortable with their role as team leaders and will be able to build a working environment suitable to promote continuous and scalable learning for their business.

This will enable to develop and amplify the passion for work in the organization, will significantly improve teamwork and work performance and will build the necessary trust and confidence of the workers in the company and their leaders.


Fenia Petran

1) The platform providers of the modern age

There are four huge companies: Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google that have attained astonishing accomplishments in technology.

How is it that these four large technology organizations have become the main platform providers of the modern age?

The general answer is that they excel in high-quality technology and the smart use of technology.

They have built outstanding ecosystems and have adopted partnership and external and internal innovations.

But beyond all of these, they have adopted a new way of doing business: the platform.

Their powerful platforms have two things in common:

a) They have roots in powerful technologies and they use technology in an intelligent way.

They are not based on physical assets, places and traditional resources, but mainly on virtual technologies, that work equally at any time, in any place, on almost any device.

b) They benefit from powerful ecosystems, including partners, developers, users, customers, and communities.

Platforms are built from integrated planks.

Although platforms have a great commercial potential, they do not exist as simply a means for selling and buying products.

But rather they are mainly about customer service, consumer utility, communication and collaboration.

And because today the consumers' needs change very quickly, and almost everyday new competitive products and services appear on the market, platforms must rapidly adapt to business changes, or will become obsolete.

The successful platform providers are not afraid to fail. And they are constantly introducing new planks.

And sometimes they make some Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) open to the developers' public.

So developers can create applications and connect them to the platform. In this way, not only that the external developers can succeed, but at the same time the platforms evolve.

With platforms there is a trend towards increasing integration, and if something isn’t there from the beginning, it could be seamlessly added and improved over time.

So when Jeff Bezos started Amazon, he said: "I want a place that people can sell books".

Today Amazon sells almost everything.

And similarly, when Google started as a search engine and Facebook as a Harvard experiment, no one could have foreseen what these companies would become.

2) The Big Shift

The mindset and the evolution of these successful companies and the platform as a business model can definitely be used as models for companies that want to succeed in the Big Shift era.

John, as you smartly explain us:

"The new practices and institutional arrangements that will lead to success in this Big Shift will require a significant movement from where companies are today".

"And no matter how smart we are in any single company, we can be much more successful if we get the help of other companies and attract them to make the journey with us".

Henrik Stamm Kristensen

Dear John,

As commented on twitter we are from Blendhub Corp proposing to lead a change in the agrifood value chain that enables access to basic food stuffs to be more just and safer, reaching more people in more places.

For that we are suggesting a complete new agrifood value chain category which we have called SMART powder blends.
A category based on complete transparency and a whole product based on technology and services available anywhere in the world or the value chain in less than 6 months.
Ban-ki-moon - United Nations GM says that nobody should go hungry to bed in
2030 - we need to sit at this table. Rgds Henrik

Fenia Petran

John,

This is a great, very impactful post.

As you say: "One way of thinking about the Big Shift is that it’s a movement from an era when individuals had to find ways to fit into the pre-determined slots established by our institutions to one where our institutions will need to find ways to organize around individuals".

I very much believe in you.

There is now a huge opportunity to make a real impact on the future of higher education and corporate learning. And there is no doubt that such a movement must be around you.

Can we do it together?

Here is the evolved narrative I'm thinking about.

"Let's explore new frontiers on the edge together so that we can provide others with a platform to learn science and technology".

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