How Technology Enables Personalized Learning


Personalization is transforming our experience of the world, and employees now expect a tailored, Netflix-like experience when it comes to workplace learning. Learn how AI-driven talent development technology can help create engaging, personalized learning experiences that fuel performance, writes 

Mary Stanton Vice President of People and Learning Saba Software.

Personalization is transforming our experience of the world. Whether we realize it or not, all of us are already using artificial intelligence (AI) in our daily lives. Thanks to AI, Netflix serves up movie titles we might like, Google tells us when to leave to be on time for appointments, Amazon suggests products based on our buying activity and preferences, and Spotify analyzes our listening habits to help us discover great new bands. AI is changing (and often raising) consumer expectations.

But we’ve become so accustomed to these tailored, Netflix-like experiences as consumers that it’s become impossible for us to check those expectations at the door when we go to work.

When it comes to training and development, your people now crave and expect a personalized, “just for me” learning experience. Employees want a learning management system (LMS) Opens a new window that can serve up AI-powered learning recommendations based on their specific needs, interests and habits—when, how and where they want it.

Why Personalized Learning?

While delivering a personalized, engaging learning experience is essential to creating an employee experience that meets the needs and expectations of the modern workforce, there are also significant business benefits of doing so.

Recent research from Brandon Hall GroupOpens a new window reveals that high-performing organizations are more likely to deliver personalized learning than other companies. In the study, 95 percent of companies that deliver personalized learning reported an improvement in individual performance, and 91 percent reported an improvement in organizational performance. The study also found that of those surveyed:

  • 93% agreed personalized learning supports an employee in reaching professional goals more efficiently,
  • 91% agreed personalized learning supports employee needs for continuous development, and
  • 88% agreed personalized learning helped improve their organization’s strategies, mission or vision

Using Technology to Personalize Learning

Personalized learning is a win-win: It’s good for employees and the business as a whole. And while even just a few years ago delivering tailored, sophisticated learning experiences at scale may have seemed out of reach, modern talent development technology has made learning personalization a reality.

A hyper-connected talent development platform with built-in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning capabilities is the key to creating engaging, personalized learning experiences that drive performance.

So, how exactly can HR and learning leaders leverage AI-powered talent management technology to design and implement the learning experience employees crave?

Getting to Know Your Employees

To personalize the learning experience, the first thing you need to do is get to know your employees on an individual level. What are their passions, interests and career goals? What are their challenges and what type of training could benefit them the most? To do this, managers need to make the time for regular 1:1 meetings and check-ins—and they also need to make these meetings more than a mundane project status update.

Done right, these meetings offer a valuable opportunity to extract information about the employees’ needs, preferences and aspirations that can help in the creation of personalized learning journeys.

Technology can help managers become more effective coaches, making these manager-employee discussions a powerful tool when it comes to tailoring the learning experience. A talent development platform can facilitate 1:1 meetings and informal check-ins by providing a forum to track and collaborate on goals, explore career paths, and discuss development areas. It centralizes and documents this information, using it to help shape and customize each employee’s unique learning path. All of this insight-rich employee data feeds the platform’s AI algorithms, helping L&D teams design tailored learning experiences at scale.

Linking Learning to Performance

With a deep understanding of your employees and what they want from L&D, it’s time to get to work designing the learning experience. And while learning should be fun, engaging and relevant, it also needs to drive better individual and organizational performance. Otherwise, what’s the point?

To deliver personalized, high-impact learning experiences, there needs to be a clear link between learning and performance. Employees need to be empowered to drive their own development with learning that is also aligned to individual and business goals. Plus, when employees can see how learning relates to their performance goals, it helps them more tangibly understand the “why” behind training and what’s in it for them. As Michael Rochelle, Chief Strategy Officer at Brandon Hall Group adds, “Today’s learners are expecting an experience that’s just for me, just in time, just the way I want it. Transformational L&D leaders are driving their teams to connect learning to performance outcomes.”

A talent development platform that ties learning activities to performance objectives helps strengthen this learning-performance connection to engage learners and maximize learning impact. With insights into an employee’s performance goals and progress, the platform can make intelligent learning recommendations through the power of predictive analytics and adaptive learning—even as goals and priorities change. So, instead of offering employees a generic menu of leadership training options when they log in, the platform makes “smart” learning suggestions based on the employee’s specific performance needs and goals.

Learn More: Adopting an Innovative Approach to Employee Training Program & Employee EngagementOpens a new window

The Future of Workplace Learning

Henry Ford once famously said, “Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black.” And for many years, this is also how we operated in learning and development.Opens a new window We took a one-size-fits-all approach to workplace learning, where all employees were expected to follow the same learning path and complete the same tasks. But just as the Model T became obsolete when consumers demanded more choice and product variety, organizations today need to do away with a cookie-cutter approach to training if they want to stay competitive and effectively engage and retain top talent.

Leveraging talent development technology that can connect learning to performance and apply sophisticated AI algorithms to your talent data can help you deliver the relevant, targeted learning experience modern employees want. By helping you get to know your people on a deeper level—and then harnessing those insights to design a personalized, scalable learning experience—technology can help organizations modernize their L&D strategy to engage employees, improve learning outcomes, and drive better business results.

Learn More: Digital Literacy: Patching the Gaps in American WorkforceOpens a new window