The corporate learning market is growing like crazy. More than $4 billion is spent on content providers like LinkedIn, Coursera, Udemy, SkillSoft, and others – and the predominant paradigm is video. Video, a medium that exploded since the launch of iPhone and YouTube, is now one of the most compelling ways to tell a story, explain a concept, and deliver high-quality instruction.
Driven by this trend, there are many models for video-based learning. You can have a talking head teach a class, you can educate through stories or interviews, or you can entertain people like in TikTok. And video is expanding in scope: Virtual Reality has transformed video into 3D, and thanks to Lidar in the iPhone, it will soon included Augmented Reality.
In the early days of video learning, the process was highly scripted. Companies hired video producers to create movies, often using sets, actors, and studios. These expensive programs took months to build, required expensive equipment, and were hard or impossible to update. (Lynda.com built professional sound studios, the startup NinthHouse hired the producers of Seinfeld.)
Today, however, standards have changed. We snap videos through our phones, share them without editing, and delete the ones we don’t like. The growth of Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok show how compelling video has become: billions of videos are created each year and estimates show that growth is still accelerating. (People consume 5 billion YouTube videos and 91 million people use TikTok each day.)
Enter the corporate learning market, where video has been in demand for decades. In 2009 we discovered an application by British Telecom called Dare2Share, where local telephone repair people used snap cameras to record videos of legacy equipment repairs. This application, which relied on Cisco Flash Cameras, was a massive success. Today we all walk around with this kind of camera, so the opportunity is even bigger.
We contacted Fuse Universal, a pioneering learning tech company, to explore this paradigm, and what we found was astounding. You an deploy self-authored video learning at massive scale, and with the help of platforms like Fuse, create your own viral YouTube channel that works.
And the big opportunity is to share internal expertise. While I could never prove the statistic, I’ve always felt that 80% of corporate learning was developed by internal experts. Sales, service, systems, and company training is almost always proprietary and best understood by internal experts. New video learning platforms unlock this source of knowledge and help people find just what they need, available in the flow of work.
Fuse, as a vendor, has grown exponentially and is now both a video learning system, LXP, and LMS. The latest release even includes advanced indexing to find video content most relevant, easier-than ever authoring tools, and more integration with workflow systems. These types of knowledge-finding tools are critical as more of our work-life goes digital.
(Other vendors that offer various video tools include Learning Technologies Group, Docebo, Microsoft Stream, and of course authoring tools like Camtasia, Loom, and LXP providers like Degreed and EdCast. Fuse, by contrast, is an integrated platform.)
Let me give you some examples.
Training 6 Million Sales People at Avon
Founded in 1886, Avon Products is a multinational cosmetics, fragrance, and personal care company based in London. The organization pioneered the direct selling model, with independent representatives providing customers high-touch service and support. Today, Avon has over 6 million sellers worldwide and employs nearly 25 thousand full-time workers.
After a hundred years of face-to-face selling, Avon began a digital transformation of its business in 2018. As part of this reinvention, the company established a digital experience team for its network of representatives, focused on training 6 million people in all the sales and services provided by Avon, all in the flow of work.
“Our reps needed to feel confident enough to share their learning, share their experience, ask questions, and learn from each other, rather than being dependent on Avon”, says Andy Stamps, Senior Manager of Digital Experience. “Fuse helped us build a community-based, peer-to-peer learning in this safe environment.”
Avon built a peer-to-peer learning platform called Avon Connect that supports and complements its formal training programs. And as Andy puts it, this is not just training – it’s a huge central knowledge base that everyone can use. Anyone can author a video, and then it is shared among the community automatically – people in different locations or roles see just what they need, and if it’s popular it automatically goes to the top.
The company has now deployed in 52 countries in 49 languages. Content is regularly created and refreshed by the users, with up to 75% produced by local sales leaders. Using the analytics in Fuse, Avon can see that sellers who consume and interact with these videos are selling more and generating more satisfied customers.
Avon also found that professionally authored video was not necessary. By looking at the countries with the highest level of adoption, the L&D team discovered the secrets: short-form videos authored with very specific goals (sales tips, behaviors, case studies) are the secret. The team has stopped most formal design and now teaches people how to build short-form content.
Employee-Driven Learning and Development at Hilti
Hilti is a global manufacturing company that develops products and services for the construction, manufacturing and energy industries. With 30,000 employees in more than 120 countries, Hilti is well respected by the construction industry and sells all sorts of tools from cordless drills to measuring instruments, firestop solutions, and chemicals.
As you can imagine, there are many training problems to solve: sales, service, repair, and a myriad of programs focused on safety, management, and leadership.
In 2015 engagement survey results revealed that people were unhappy with the current approach to learning. It was hard to find programs and there was a lack of developmental opportunities. So the L&D team benchmarked their organization and kicked off a total transformation.
“While we had lots of role-based learning, there weren’t enough offerings to develop ongoing skills. Employees also felt our platform was too restrictive: they couldn’t needed”, says Rachel Hutchinson. “And the content was always out of date.”
Like Avon, Hilti was also desperately in need of knowledge sharing. Like most product and services companies, Hilti is filled with people who know how its tools work. And as Rachel found out, employees are excited to share what they know so others can learn on the job. The L&D team was just getting in the way. So video sharing became a perfect fit.
How did they get this off the ground? Rather than pulling old e-learning courses from the LMS, the L&D team just started building new content. They taught people how to author videos, shared the principles of performance design, and helped focus on building authentic content. Sure enough, it exploded with growth.
Today the L&D team curates (not authors) content and helps people share best practices with each other. And it has been a huge success.
“We’re five years along our journey now, and we see about 1.2 million views of content every month. And in this social learning environment, the best content rises to the top. Our goal is to make people productive and effective and able to develop, and then they stay engaged with the organization.”
Learning In The Flow Of Work at Vodafone
Vodafone, one of the largest telecommunications companies in the world, has more than 100,000 employees in 21 countries. They, like all telcos, have an enormous training challenge. Not only are there hundreds of products and services to understand, the company constantly launches new service plans, bundles, and offerings – so sales and service people need to upskill themselves constantly.
In 2016 Vodafone started a journey to transform performance support in retail and telesales. This includes 6,000 employees including partners, hourly workers, and franchisees – and these individuals talk with customers every day.
“It was important to engage these critical members of our workforce who sit outside the Vodafone employee base. Our leaders wanted to build one culture”, says Rob Beattie. “We also knew we had to get these teams the information they needed without duplicating messages”,
When the Comms team interviewed these employees they found that the #1 problem was finding up-to-date information to help with customer discussions at the point of need. (We call this “learning in the flow of work.”) And they wanted this information contextualized to their role, geography, and market segment.
Working with Fuse, the team developed a set of policies and standards for learning delivered locally. They took relevant pieces from long-form learning and published them as short videos. And they started working with managers in retail and telesales to promote short videos about new promotions, sales tips, and best-practices.
“We now encourage local authoring by regional managers to drive engagement. For example, a manager will record a briefing they had with their team, and they want everyone to be able to get that on catch up. We also established templates so regional managers have easy ways to build their content.”
And as with Hilti and Avon, content management has been key. With thousands of pieces of learning online, the team audits content continuously. “You need to preserve the quality of the content that’s on there and make sure that it’s all correct and up to date. This maintenance is also really crucial for search accuracy. If a retail employee searches for ‘iPhone’ as an example, we want to be sure that they find the info pack that’s about the most recent model, not the iPhone 7.”
Engagement with the learning platform is very high: around 65%. The company is now exploring the relationship between content engagement and sales performance. “We’ve got a project going on to investigate what engagement and content consumption levels can tell us about successful individuals. We’ll share that back with the business to help further reinforce the importance of continuous learning.”
Bottom Line: Formal Learning Isn’t Everything
There is a very big message here, one we’ve learned in our own Josh Bersin Academy. While formal learning is important, as much as 80% of the problem is local. If you find a way to unleash the experts in your company, many of your training problems solve themselves.