The right people with the right skills can move a business forward; tech-based learning tools make this possible

By Amy Franko

Of all the things that keep leaders up at night, one of the most challenging is the "capability gap," that is making sure the right people are with the organization, in the right roles, and with the right skills to move the business forward.

How can leaders assess their organization, to reduce capability gaps and build their competitive advantage? A strong place to start is with a role-based talent development program that encompasses consistent onboarding and ongoing learning experiences. Impact Instruction Group surveys learning professionals and leaders on the trends they're experiencing, specifically around improving business results (and narrowing the capability gap) through technology-based learning. The survey results are published in its annual Learning and Development Technology Trends Report.

A notable trend is the growing support of leadership for implementing technology-based learning within their organizations. More than 70 percent of leaders are showing increased interest. In addition, companies are making increased investments in learning and development. Technology-based learning can include programs such as e-Learning, webinars, videos, mobile, games and simulations, and social networks.

For any leader on the fence about implementing technology-based learning, consider these seven benefits:

It better engages distributed and virtual workforces. Globalization and telecommuting are key contributors to the rise in virtual workforces. According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), telecommuting is a benefit companies are increasingly offering to their employees. Technology-based learning leverages the one thing most people have, a mobile device. This type of learning supports a key driver for attracting and retaining Millennials, which is the opportunity for skill development anytime, anywhere. By the way, this isn't something only the Millennials want - Learning and development opportunities are a key reason why people stay (and stay engaged) with their organizations. It provides a platform for individualized ownership of learning and one's career path. Today more than ever, one's career path is a jungle gym instead of a ladder. An organization's most successful employees are those who are in a state of continual learning and growth. Technology can enable their path. This tie between career paths and learning is further reinforced by LinkedIn's recent acquisition of Lynda.com, a leading provider of video-based learning. It provides us with better data points for improving learning. Big data is everywhere, and it's also driving how organizations make learning and development investments. Technology-based learning allows organizations to better personalize and track how well learning initiatives are working, and target areas for improvement. This ultimately helps leaders make better decisions around investments and how they contribute to business outcomes. Technology-based learning allows for more social and informal experiences. For example, consider Twitter chats, through which people can interact with thought leaders and take away new ideas that they might otherwise not experience. Similarly, organizations with enterprise social networking platforms can duplicate this type of experience internally. It allows for better collaboration, idea generation, identification of future talent, and improved knowledge management. Technology-based learning solutions support other learning opportunities for a full blended experience. Technology doesn't replace the human element of learning; when technology-based learning solutions are well-designed and executed, they complement the overall experience.

A well-trained workforce is integral to business success. Technology and virtual learning environments are quickly becoming game changers as organizations attract and retain top talent in the 21st century.

Amy Franko is the founder and president of Impact Instruction Group, a Columbus-based organization that designs custom employee onboarding experiences and technology-based learning solutions in the franchising, retail, and insurance industries. She can be reached via LinkedIn or on Twitter at @amyfranko. To learn more and download the Impact Instruction 2015 Learning and Development Technology Trends Report, visit www.impactinstruction.com.

Photo Credit: Abby Walters/Thirty-One Gifts