HBR report: “Digital technologies increase productivity.” But are you ready to embrace digital learning?

What impact does digital technology have on business performance? A lot. A recent report from the Harvard Business Review (HBR) found that “the most digital companies see outsized growth in productivity and profit.” In this article we’ll explore how this might impact learning.

The report looked at three key areas—digital assets, digital usage, and digital workers. While all have an impact on business performance, the latter makes a stand-out difference.

Putting digital tools in the hands of employees hugely increases productivity. What does that mean for learning? It’s a no brainer. Learning needs to be performance focused and digital. Get it right, and such learning will increase productivity further.

What does the report say?

HBR created its report off the back of in-depth research by McKinsey. They evaluated the digitization of industry sectors and companies across the US and found that those that have embraced digital technologies for back-end services, for engaging with customers, and for enabling employee tasks and workflow stand head and shoulders above those that have not. Also, there is a surprising number of sectors that are yet to either go digital or to fully embrace it.

But it is the use of digital technologies by employees that stands out as the crucial factor. Providing employees with digital tools to help them with their day-to-day tasks makes a huge difference to the performance of the organization.

“The gaps are huge: companies in leading sectors have workforces that are 13 times more digitally engaged than the rest of the economy.

What does this mean for learning?

While the report itself doesn’t drill down into the role of digital learning, we know that corporate learning is there to enhance performance, and so it has a crucial role to play in business performance.

Related: Corporate learning is “wildly out of sync” with how people prefer to learn

5 ways learning can join the digital productivity ride

To enhance productivity and employee performance, learning should do the following:

  • Tap into the digital revolution and be put into the hands of employees—take learning to them, not take them away for learning
  • Fit into the workflows of individuals and support them at their points of need.
  • Be multi-device and available 24/7
  • Keep up with production or performance needs, i.e., have the ability to be updated in an instant, to all devices
  • Link to on-the-job digital tools that further support productivity so that learning content is not separated from on-the-job tools; the two need to sit side by side to streamline operations

In a recent survey carried out by Towards Maturity, which we discuss here, 70% of learners said that online learning had a positive impact on their performance. This makes sense when you see it in the context of the above list, as online learning—in particular, multi-device learning—has the potential to streamline and support performance by slotting into the workflow.

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Final thoughts

The digital revolution is here to stay, and those who embrace it and move with it will have the cutting edge in business.

The same goes for learning. Workforces that are given digital tools drive productivity and business performance. Learning that is both digital and performance-focused will do the same.

Learning and training providers can’t afford to leave digital solutions off their list. The art is to design online learning around the needs of the audience to ensure that it slots into their workflow and performance needs.

Ready to embrace digital learning? Consider using our simple and fast authoring tool, Elucidat.