Looking over the past decade or so, it is interesting to see how the focus of learning in organizations has shifted. A focus on technology, a focus on making that technology easy for admins to use, a focus on learners, a focus on content … it’s like a cat chasing a spot from a laser pointer. Of course, these elements are important — and there is one area of focus that ties them all together — yet companies have a hard time zeroing in on it: The impact learning is having on the business.

Ultimately, the goal of learning must be to have a business impact. Learning should considered a strategic investment that drives business performance and builds business capability. Everything should point toward it. Ease of use is not just about the user experience, it’s about the system being easy enough to use to have an impact. Personalization isn’t just about the learner; it’s about connecting the learner to the outcomes that impact the bottom line. Compliance can’t just be about checking the boxes; it has to be about what compliance (or being out of compliance) means for the business. 

Many companies focus on these individual areas because it is easier than measuring overall impact. They also believe if they get these other things right, impact will follow. Business impact should be the starting point for learning, not the aspirational outcome. But when only 23% of companies say that most or all of their learning programs are based on defined metrics, there is an obvious disconnect.

Brandon Hall Group Preferred Provider Meridian takes an impact-first approach with its solutions. By incorporating advanced xAPI capabilities, they help organizations extract robust data from learning activities for analysis. This makes it far easier to draw a straight line between actionable insights and crucial business decisions.

Meridian also understands that an organization may need to serve many different learning audiences, some of which may be external to the company. They each have their own desired learning outcomes. Setting up multiple domains in the Meridian LMS helps organizations better serve the learning needs of different user populations, such as resellers or customers, providing a boost to bottom-line revenue. 

Tying it all together is an in-depth set of reports and dashboards that allow companies to see just what kind of impact of learning is having on the bottom line, whether it is through performance improvements, compliance, generating revenue via training or all of the above. Organizations need to develop a framework for setting metrics and measuring the impact of learning — and the technology to make it happen.

David Wentworth, Principal Analyst, Brandon Hall Group

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David Wentworth

David Wentworth has been a senior research analyst in the human capital field since 2005 and joined the Brandon Hall Group in 2013. He has authored reports and articles on various human capital subjects with an emphasis on workforce technology. He has contributed to several reports published by ASTD, including authoring Mobile Learning: Learning in the Palm of Your Hand, The Rise of Social Media: Enhancing Collaboration and Productivity Across Generations, and Instructional Systems Design Today and in the Future. His work has also appeared in Compensation & Benefits Review and T+D Magazine.