We’re at an amazing time today as all manner of learning vendors and knowledge management systems are going through a renaissance. Vendors have understood that no one has time to learn required job skills as a separate learning event, and must gain the skills they need in real time as they perform their jobs. A big driver are the technology changes such as the availability of AI approaches accelerating this trend.
From the Knowledge management (KM) providers to the Learning Management Systems (LMS), we're seeing big improvements. For over a decade LMSs in their present form track and deliver on-demand learning and classroom training. Then came micro learning vendors, with a focus on bite size / 10 min or less training with the Knowledge management (KM) tools and systems growing at the same time. KMs were built to make findable the institutional knowledge an organization uses for each person to do their job. Finally, we have Learning Experience Platforms (LXP), which focus on delivering and recommending micro and macro learning content (macro - longer than 10 minutes to consume) at the moment of need. There has been a downside to all of these approaches however, they all require the workforce, SMEs and content authors to manicure all this content to ensure it is both fresh and useful. Here are the three reasons all of these approaches will soon be amazing:
1. New KM and learning systems won’t require people to add or update content on a day to day basis.
This is huge. Now even the best KM systems require the workforce themselves to daily curate and capture any new content found to be useful and add their commentary and “knowledge” to it to maintain content utility. LMSs, LXPs and micro learning systems suffer from the same effects if the content they serve up is not maintained. All require a good degree of direct workforce, SME (subject matter expert) and content author engagement to be useful. Any changes made reflected as well as manually getting buy-in and determining the expertise of all those involved with the content production. It’s a busy process but we have seen how it will change.
Newer systems are emerging that are focused on making all content viewed highly trackable. Not just the first time it's viewed but every time. Like SCORM or xAPI on steroids. Exponentially more data regarding content usage can also be gathered. For example, by measuring every time content is viewed, by whom and correlating who the learner is along with their peers we’ve found a hands off approach is possible for entirely automating the determination of content usefulness, freshness and utility for any given employee. Content will be automatically cataloged, tagged and understood using AI / NLP (Natural Language Processing) approaches. This removes the need for people to catalog or curate any content used in the workplace. Further, by measuring user response to the answer provided and accompanying content, metrics along with mapping the exact job profile of the user, highly accurate answers can be provided. This removes the need of so many previous KM systems to go through weeks of manual tuning. In effect, these newer systems like Feathercap can self-tune.
2. Improved search.
Until fairly recently, searching for the right document was very difficult. Even KM systems which focus on answering questions to work well require questions and their answers be previously fed into the system for later availability and discovery. That step as well as making sure it's located in a specific place is no longer required. Today, searchable content can be in Sharepoint, OneDrive, Box, Dropbox – in most any content repository. The missing element was applying natural language processing (NLP). From the above curation capabilities we are seeing what happens when semantic search is made possible. The idea of indexing all content, not just by keyword but creating a semantic description of all content pages and paragraphs and then matching that to any question asked. Suddenly, the right text citation to answer people’s questions along with a link to the exact place in the text with that citation can be made a reality. This is a useful and powerful additional data point to determine which parts of the workplace’s content is useful and up to date.
3. Embed search anywhere but yet knowing where and who you are. KM and learning systems will soon fade into the background.
We’re seeing this more and more, the ability for LXP (Learning Experience Platforms - e.g. Degreed) and micro learning vendors (e.g Cornerstone on Demand, Axonify) to be embedded in whichever application your workforce is used to. Such as Salesforce, Service Cloud, ServiceNow Slack or Microsoft Teams. Currently these vendors can recommend a selection of content to you while you’re performing a specific task within those applications. We and soon others will let you embed a search link in any of these applications so that your team can ask any question and get the right answer while in the background, your KM/ learning system will deliver the right answer to their questions.
See our AI and the Augmented Workforce primer on how a workforce and technology can effectively work on tasks together and make sure everyone has the answers they need to be both confident and successful in their jobs.