Digital transformation seems to be a buzzword, and it’s no wonder. The past few years have forced many organizations to either accelerate their timelines for digitization or suddenly make it a priority if it wasn’t before. One item at the top of almost everyone’s to-do list: migrating in-person learning online. Yet the rush can often lead to stopgap solutions rather than broad, permanent transformations.
The hard truth is that most digital transformations will fail to achieve their targeted impact. One of the most common culprits that contribute to this lack of success, quite simply, is not implementing an effective change management strategy to bolster the process.
It’s time not only to think about the advantages these transformative technologies can bring, but also to put in place change management techniques to support and sustain positive business outcomes from these changes.
Understand the Benefits a Digital Transformation Can Bring
The business world has long been on a path to digitization as technology has evolved and workforces have become increasingly global. In a survey conducted at the end of 2020, 74% of employees said they’d want to work remotely two or more days per week going forward, and 56% of executives said they expect to increase levels of remote work.
For many organizations, digital learning is becoming the only way to efficiently and consistently offer learning and development to dispersed learners—an undertaking that can come with challenges but also brings benefits.
1. Get Access to More Valuable Data
Many learning technologies can give you access to insights that would be difficult or impossible to ascertain in a traditional classroom setting. You may be able to answer important questions, including:
- What types of activity trends are you seeing? If you notice large spikes around when new hires start and complete their onboarding, are there additional learning programs they can take advantage of next?
- How many learners participate within a given time frame? Are you seeing the results you wanted, or do you need to take steps to increase adoption?
- How are people engaging with the content? How much time do they spend on each page or on watching a video, as an example? Are they just clicking through to get to a quiz or certificate or completion, or are they genuinely engaging with online learning and demonstrating new skills in the workplace based on it?
Combining data from your learning technologies and other sources, such as your human resource information system (HRIS), can offer deeper insights into who is accessing your learning programs and whether completing them leads to improved performance and career progression for employees.
2. Reach More People With Online Learning
Providing virtual programs can expand access to learning and professional development in several ways. People can participate without having to physically travel, reducing administrative costs for your organization and potentially opening the door for learners to participate in a greater number of more diverse courses. It could also help you find new ways to inspire under-engaged audiences, including people who may not normally participate in in-person sessions.
3. Make Learning a Journey—Not an Event
When learning takes place in a fixed time and space, it becomes something that happens when people need to complete mandatory training or occasionally upskill. When it’s online, it can become a continuous and steady part of people’s day-to-day lives.
Make Change Management a Pillar of Your Digital Transformation
As I mentioned above, change management really is the main differentiator between technology projects that succeed and those that fail.
Even if change management wasn’t a high priority during the initial days of your transition from in-person to online learning, it isn’t too late to start implementing change management techniques to help maximize the effectiveness of your digital transformation projects. Instead of having them be quick-fix solutions in an unforeseeable crisis, you can make them strategic investments that drive business goals.
According to the 2008 IBM Global Services Making Change Work study, these are the top factors that contribute to a successful change.
1. Secure Executive Sponsorship
Executive sponsors can impact the success of a change initiative in so many ways—driving alignment between the specific initiative and overall business objectives and serving as a voice to communicate changes to employees.
Saying you need executive sponsorship and getting it, however, are two different things. D2L has an Executive Sponsor Checklist specifically for learning technology implementations that can help you assess your level of sponsorship, provide tips to your sponsors to help them be more effective, and provide suggestions to change leaders on how to maintain sponsorship throughout a project.
2. Encourage Employee Involvement
Organizational change often boils down to individual change. To encourage individuals within organizations to take action, you need to bring them into the process. This can help get employees invested in the change, generate awareness along the way, and enable you to better support them by identifying the tools and resources they need most. You can use Prosci’s ADKAR model as a starting point to understand why and when employees need to be involved.
You can also check out our on-demand webinar, which outlines four strategies you can leverage for building a culture of learning remotely.
3. Provide Honest and Timely Communication
It might go against the typical way of communicating in a business setting, but when it comes to change management, you need to communicate a lot more often than you might think—typically, five to seven times over the course of the change initiative. D2L has created the Communication Planning Workbook to get you started on crafting your communications.
Ultimately, whether you’re still planning your online learning programs or have already launched them, you can apply these change management best practices to drive adoption, growth, and long-term success.
To understand how leading organizations have made a successful shift from face-to-face to online programs and for more information on managing change for your digital learning transformation, download our strategy guide, which can help you create your own personalized adoption playbook.
Launch Your Digital Learning Strategy
Make sure that your strategy will help you drive growth, use the right tools to bring online learning to life and access data to show it’s working.
Kiara Graham is a Learning Strategy Consultant at D2L. Kiara has been working in the learning and development field in insurance, health care, education, and technology industries for the past decade. Kiara’s work on the future of work and learning has been featured by the Association for Talent Develop, Training Industry, Human Capital Institute, CFO Publishing, CLO Media, HR Dive, and others. As a Learning Strategy Consultant, Kiara works with D2L’s corporate and education customers in a variety of industries on change management, strategic planning, program design, and organizational transformation. Kiara holds an M.A. from Carleton University and lives in Hamilton, Ontario with her partner, 2 dogs, and 2 cats.
Stay in the know
Educators and training pros get our insights, tips, and best practices delivered monthly