The digitization of corporate learning

The digitization of corporate learning

The way of learning has drastically changed due to COVID-19. With the onset of the pandemic and the corresponding measures such as social distancing, many companies were put to the test and forced to adjust their current teaching approaches. Trainings and seminars could not take place on-site as usual and were, sometimes without a strategic plan, adapted to an online format. The creation of e-learning is associated with increased costs, hindering some companies from fully realizing the potential of the online format. However, it is a fact that digital learning formats will continue to be an important part of the future and must be applied and provided in the form of a mix of on-site learning, e-learning, and blended learning (corporate learning).

Current and Future Challenges

The development and learning of employees have a long history. Looking back over the last 130 years, it is clear that we will face new challenges in the future, and the personalization of skills, placing the employee at the center, will be of the highest priority.

Increasing shortage of skilled workers: Many companies face a major challenge in promoting and training personnel according to customer requirements. The demographic development, digitization, and climate change contribute to a projected shortage of skilled workers reaching 450,000 by 2030.

Increasing task complexity: The shortage of skilled workers is exacerbated by the fact that tasks and requirements are becoming more complex. In 2014, companies took an average of 3 days to train employees, while just 4 years later, they plan approximately 36 days for employee training.

Low effectiveness of training formats: Despite annual investments exceeding $370 billion in training and learning formats to skill up the workforce, only 7% of companies are very satisfied with the results and effectiveness of these formats. This highlights the importance of choosing the right learning format for success.

How can these challenges be addressed?

Various approaches can be taken to meet the challenge and close the skills gap. Unlike in the past, this gap cannot be simply filled through new hires or mergers but requires appropriate training and further education in the forms of Face-to-Face Learning, E-Learning, and Blended Learning.

Face-to-Face Learning

This method, prevalent before the outbreak of the pandemic, involves delivering course content and learning materials in person, on-site, or online to an individual or a group.

Advantages: Participants have high interaction with teachers and peers, the opportunity for networking, and can stay focused on the learning process without distractions.

Disadvantages: Face-to-Face Learning makes participants inflexible, limiting them in terms of time and location. It also hinders selective learning and participation in events.

An example in this format is the Amazon Career Choice Program, where employees have the opportunity to improve their skills through live training, earning certificates, and associate degrees in highly demanded areas.


E-Learning involves learning through electronic media, utilizing digital resources such as online quizzes, video recordings, online courses, podcasts, and articles.

Advantages: Participants in E-Learning can learn autonomously, anytime, and anywhere. The flexibility of self-directed learning allows easy tracking of the learning process and measurement of individual progress.

Disadvantages: Limited interaction and immediate feedback require participants to bring high self-motivation and discipline to successfully complete E-Learning.

AstraZeneca provides its employees with a continuous and adaptive AI-protected Microlearning platform, the “Field Sales Pharma Training,” allowing sales representatives to improve their sales skills in a time-limited and personalized manner.

Blended Learning

Blended Learning combines technology and digital media with traditional teacher-led activities (e.g., a combination of Face-to-Face Learning and E-Learning).

Advantages: Participants can learn autonomously, self-directed, anytime, and anywhere. Collaboration can be promoted, and knowledge transfer within the organization can be strengthened.

Disadvantages: Creating an E-Learning or hybrid model requires significant effort and may impact efficiency.

Intel’s approach to technician training is considered a best practice for Blended Learning. Their devices aim to train technicians through a combination of digital simulation, scenarios, and interactive exercises, resulting in highly competent technicians not only in device operation but also in maintenance and troubleshooting.

Efficiency and Effectiveness in All Learning Formats

Efficiency, as the ratio of input to output, translates to having the right skills in the organization while minimizing time and money spent. Variables include costs and time.

Effectiveness focuses solely on output: an effective organization has the right employees with the necessary skills, maximizing organizational impact and employee engagement. Variables include skill creation, impact on the organization, and employee engagement.

Fig. 1: Corporate Learnings (Own representation)

Blended Learning Concepts also Work in Small Businesses

The 4-advice GmbH is a consulting and training provider specializing in digital transformation and innovation. It has been awarded titles such as “Top Consultant” and “Best Consultant” by leading German magazines like FOCUS and Brandeins 18 times between 2015 and 2021. Over 10 of these awards were specifically in the areas of digitization, change, and innovation.

In addition to developing two nationally recognized certificate programs, “Digital Innovation & Product Manager” and “Digital Change Manager,” conducted through traditional face-to-face teaching, 4-advice has also created a Masterclass, the “Master of Change (MoC).” The MoC is modular and offered in product variants for individual participants and for businesses.

While IHK seminars take place as live online sessions, the MoC is a Blended Learning solution that has been expanded with additional elements. This learning solution primarily targets management structures, including those responsible for overall corporate training. By developing a comprehensive Blended Learning approach, 4-advice aims to create the most effective and efficient change seminar in the German-speaking region, delivering sustainable results for learners and employers. The courses are offered as open seminars with participants from multiple companies and as closed in-house seminars with participants from a single company, empowering participants to successfully navigate organizational change for the benefit of their companies.

Blended Learning is complemented by project coaching offerings, where 4-advice experts coach the implementation of a change project in the client’s company parallel to the seminar. They enable project participants to successfully execute the project while facilitating a comprehensive knowledge transfer. Alternatively, customers have the option to book a change project, where 4-advice experts lead the change project on behalf of the client. Mixed project teams, consisting of both client and 4-advice staff, are preferred to maximize knowledge transfer and competence building on the client’s side.

To continue operating successfully in the future, it is crucial for companies to not only recognize but also leverage the opportunities of onsite, e-learning, and blended learning. In this context, designing the right mix of learning formats is a key factor for future success. In the era of digital transformation, organizations in high-wage locations like Germany are compelled to adapt rapidly to market changes – even better, proactively shape these changes. Resilience and agility are key qualifications that participants in the MoC acquire and apply.

To prevent skill gaps or a shortage of skilled workers from growing even larger, it is important for companies to act agilely and respond to these gaps to remain attractive employers. In this context, Blended Learning is particularly recommended as a key to success. While this format initially incurs higher costs, it offers the greatest value and benefits for both the employee and the company. Therefore, companies must set individual goals. But also tailor the learning journey and strategy for their employees, considering the following variables: the objectives behind the training, the appropriate time required, the budget needed for the measures, the personas and preferences of the target audience, and the company’s resources.

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