The Digital Transformation of the Learning Function

Date: Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Time: 2:00 PM EDT

Duration: 60-minutes

When the speed of employee learning needs to keep pace with the digital transformation of organizations large and small, the solutions are far from obvious. Digital transformation is changing the learning and development function and the role of the CLO. It is as much about strategy and culture as it is about technology. So how does the learning and development function enable successful market and organizational change in the digital era? This webinar will focus on three core areas of technological and functional change for L&D: how to facilitate organizational change with cross functional collaboration; how to create learning experiences using AI; and design thinking and agile approaches and how to avoid common pitfalls. The speakers, Amy Loomis and Robert Burnside, bring direct experience from their years of work in the industry and through current consulting engagements. Loomis led the development and instantiation of IBM’s Think Academy and Burnside was Ketchum’s CLO. Join them in a conversation on how L&D can build resilient organizations that are well equipped to navigate the demands of work in the digital era.

L&D Challenges in the Digital Age:

Organizations including newly funded startups and large corporations struggle to find a balance between the learning and development needs of the organization and those of employees who want to be more effective. How do they create, curate and deliver the right experiences in time and on budget? How do we meet business goals, personal goals and find the right measures to ensure we are doing so effectively and efficiently? This isn’t simply a matter of cutting through the clutter of myriad leadership development courses, social media links or compliance training. It’s a matter of developing learning pathways that are purpose built to enable skills that are linked to professional and personal progress. It’s as much about what NOT to learn and how to build sequentially on foundational knowledge. 

Solutions That Work:

While different industries need different flavors of digital learning — more or less focused on compliance, in-person experiences or specific skills — the core principles for finding a solution are common:

  • Digital learning platforms must include a feedback loop that takes into account learner input in building and adapting the learning experience. This can be in real time or over time but it’s essential.
  • Digital learning experience must be sponsored as a core business initiative from the top down, not just a functional nice-to-have perk to refine leadership, ensure compliance or improve skills.
  • Digital learning programs cannot be one-size-fits-all. Each organization needs to balance in-person with digital learning experiences that are appropriately mapped by role, geography, culture and desired outcome. For example, deep technical training such as learning a new programming language works best via online modules while subjects that require nuanced application and buy-in like business strategy are best taught face to face.

Deploying artificial intelligence within a digital experience can facilitate the above solutions. Organizations that focus on this now and implement state-of-the-art AI in learning solutions will jump ahead of competitors who are relying only on traditional L&D programs.

Why AI Matters: Examples From the field:

New technology, skills and roles development are emerging far faster than traditional HR programs can keep up — either in creating content or scheduling traditional training sessions. No sooner has one program been fully executed than the next needs to be deployed. Additionally, organizations themselves are under pressure to adapt to the digital transformation of their services; it is a “do or die” moment — either one adapts or one goes the way of companies like Kodak. Examples of successful implementations of doing this kind of new AI-enabled learning solution include IBM’s Think Academy and Ketchum’s Race to Make It Real initiative.

Key Takeaways:

Anyone in the learning and development field will take away the following key points:

  1. Digital learning is a team sport that includes cross-functional support from other functions such as communication, marketing and IT.
  2. The key to building engaging programs is to lay out the navigation pathways for goal-based learning that connects personal and strategic business needs for growth.
  3. Successful L&D programs are led in the context of a broader organizational framework that foster and reward continuous learning and sharing of knowledge.
  4. All of the above depend on understanding of AI technology and how it can enable learning that meets the challenge of the future.

Sponsored by:




   Amy Loomis

Amy Loomis is the founder of Loomis Digital Learning, consulting with a range of clients from Fortune 100 organizations to start-ups. She currently sits on the advisory boards of Boston University’s Digital Education Incubator, start-up Demingway and the UMass at Amherst Graduate Communication Program.

Loomis spent 15 years at IBM in various leadership roles across the communications function. In 2013 she co-founded IBM’s Think Academy, a global digital learning platform and program for 380,000 employees across 170 countries. Think Academy is designed to enable IBMers and business partners to effectively engage with clients and peers around IBM’s strategic imperatives.

Loomis’ research focuses on the relationship between technological innovation, organizational change and business results. She has published in trade, academic and industry outlets. She continues to consult, write and speak on the topics of digital education and transformation.

Robert M Burnside_SQ 

   Robert Burnside

Robert M. Burnside provides senior learning and development consulting, increasing the impact of adult learning to achieve organizational goals, with a focus on best use of technology for effective education. In addition to his ongoing commitments he provides project-based consulting in the areas of managing the learning and development function, improving the effectiveness of digital learning and designing effective leadership development programs. His work is informed by decades of experience, most recently as senior learning adviser with Nomadic Learning since 2016; partner and chief learning officer Ketchum Public Relations, 2002-16; but also notably in executive teaching and management roles at the Center for Creative Leadership, 1985-2000.

Burnside joined Ketchum as chief learning officer in 2002. In his role as partner and CLO, Burnside oversaw Ketchum’s global learning and development function across the Americas, Europe and Asia.

In 2015, Burnside facilitated 1,900 client-facing globally dispersed employees participating in a social engagement online program named “Ketchum 2016: The Race To Make It Real,” which rolled out a new agency strategy and taught how to build campaign-leading creative programs. Participants rated each other’s ideas to create a leaderboard of the best ideas. The program won an award from Brandon Hall for “Best Social Collaborative Learning Program 2015.” The program was so popular that Ketchum’s clients also asked to participate in it. The follow-up program “Ketchum 2016: The Race in Real Time,” which teaches social media skills in listening at scale, digital content, influencer relations and channel selection, was delivered in 2016 and won a gold award in social and collaborative learning from the Learning Performance Institute in 2017. Nomadic Learning designed and delivered both programs. Since joining Nomadic Learning as senior learning adviser, Burnside facilitated a relationship with the Center for Creative Leadership to bring CCL’s award-winning leadership development knowledge to the Nomadic platform. He works with Nomadic’s clients to maximize the success of their learning initiatives.