Five Reasons Why L&D Needs a Technology Roadmap

As organizations continue to tackle digital transformation, the learning & development function is poised for its own metamorphosis with emerging technology-delivered solutions. The future of work (and learning) is here now, and L&D professionals must navigate an increasingly competitive learning technology landscape to deliver immersive end-user outcomes. The learning experience market is encountering a surge of talent and employee engagement suites inclusive of modern learning feature sets that further complicate the choices and decisions facing L&D stakeholders. Given this volatility, how can learning leaders proactively make pragmatic and timely decisions about their technology investments?

With the accelerated digital shift happening across the enterprise, the learning function needs to take full control of its own technology foundation.  This includes establishing and evolving a learning technology roadmap. There are a few critical reasons why this roadmap is a valuable instrument for L&D success as further defined below.

  1. Validate digital capability to drive the learning strategy. Roadmaps should not simply quantify the scope of platforms and systems, but more concisely define the capabilities and feature sets they are intended to enable. This can help facilitate discussions and debate on how the ecosystem effectively aligns to L&D business drivers, and surface gaps for expansion or opportunities for consolidation. In a mature learning ecosystem, I am much less concerned about the number of systems in play vs. how they collectively (a) satisfy the desired learner experience and workflow model and (b) enable the needs of a learning organization’s strategic objectives and priorities.
  2. Define a single source of truth for stakeholder consensus. The roadmap can provide both a full-view inventory to the current state architecture, but also articulate a formalized blueprint to what the future may require. Creating enterprise awareness of what already exists and the path forward can help prevent solution redundancy and fortify cross-functional employee experiences, while also educating business leadership on the “why” and how it all fits together.
  3. Establish IT partnership and prioritization. The explosion of digital everything puts IT in a never-ending cycle to staff, manage, and support business transformation.  Providing a proactive vision of not only what learning needs today but what will be expected in the years ahead will help forge a strong relationship for resource forecasting, budget allocations, and business prioritization.
  4. Cross-vendor awareness and engagement. Traditional L&D suppliers are adapting their service models to emerging learning trends, and many simply do not just build courses anymore – they are being asked to design complex, continuous learner journeys with more blended activities. They should have the full picture of your ecosystem to fully understand the playground in which they have to work within, both from a creative and technical perspective.
  5. Formulate a model of governance. As an enterprise organization evolves, functional learning teams will explore new digital delivery models, and often pockets of local or global training will emerge organically tethered to niche digital solutions and related platforms. At some point you will need some controls and standards for how learning technology gets identified, socialized, and approved to mitigate the risk of “digital debt” that may begin to occur at accelerated growth stages.