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Towards Maturity’s 2012 Benchmark Study highlights the major business benefits achieved through learning technologies

Leading in-depth industry benchmark report now available to download for free

London, November 22nd 2012 – Leading benchmark research company Towards Maturity has unveiled the findings of its major annual learning technology Benchmark Study. The largest benchmark study of its type in Europe, the 2012 Benchmark Study highlights the major business benefits achieved through the use of learning technologies.

With 700* organisations’ benchmarks analysed, the study provides the most in-depth research on the impact of learning technologies. It showed that the average company was able to roll out new products, services and IT systems over 20% faster. It also highlights average companies were achieving a 23% improvement in study time, 24% faster delivery time, 22% reduction in cost of training, 26% improvement in learning reach and 16% improvement in time to competency.

Richard Beaven, Customer Services Director of a major high street financial institution said,

“As business leaders, we have to let go of our embedded beliefs that classroom is the most effective means of delivering skills.  Now, more than ever, we need to be able to access our learning quickly in digestible bite sized chunks and find support as and when we need it. The 2012 Towards Maturity Benchmark provides hard evidence that this type of approach can really deliver.”

The data also highlights how 90% of Learning & Development professionals are looking to integrate learning into their company’s different functions, i.e. sales, customer service, talent and production, with 41% saying that this is critical.

Laura Overton, Managing Director of Towards Maturity explains,

“2012 is a real pivotal year in our industry. It’s the year that our industry woke up to the potential of learning technologies. Our 2012 Benchmark Study highlights the hunger for change and the real business benefits that can be achieved through deploying learning technologies. Yet there is still a huge disparity between what companies hope to achieve and what they are actually achieving.

I urge the learning industry to use the evidence in our independent free report to help understand the full potential that can be gained from their investment in learning technologies and achieve their learning goals.  My thanks to the 2200 organisations that have contributed to our leading benchmark over the last nine years.”

The study reports on a number of missed learning opportunities. 95% want to use technology to increase the sharing of good practice but only 25% are currently achieving this, 92% of organisations seek to use learning technologies to respond faster to business change, but only 25% achieve this; 94% of organisations seek to speed up the application of learning back into the workplace, but only 23% achieve this; and 91% seek to improve talent or performance management, but only 20% achieve this.

However, top learning companies** are achieving substantial additional benefits through deploying technology in learning. This includes being twice as likely than the average company to report that they are using learning technology to share good practice, improve talent, performance, respond faster to business change, speed up the application of learning at work and improve staff engagement.

In addition, top learning companies spend 50% more of their learning budgets on technology than the average organisation.  They use technology in almost twice as many formal learning programmes than average and they are more likely to allocate their learning resources to strategy, planning, content development, supporting collaboration and informal learning. In contrast, the study found that the average organisation focused more of their resources on administration and delivery.

In 2012, the proportion of training budget allocated to technology increased from 18% in 2011 to 20% in 2012. The 2012 Benchmark Study reports that the biggest technological changes from 2011 to 2012 were in the use of rapid application development tools (up from 44% to 59%), enterprise wide information services (up from 54% to 64%), user generated content (up from 31% to 41%), mobile devices (up from 39% to 47%) and virtual meetings (up from 65% to 74%).

25% of organisations are now developing mobile apps for learning, an increase from 20% in 2010, with 30% of organisations encouraging individuals to use their own devices to access learning opportunities and 31% providing learners with mobile devices.

The use of social learning is also on the increase with 63% of organisations allowing access to external social media sites (up from 58% last year). The study found 45% of organisations are exploiting social media access by using third party social media sites within the learning mix while 29% are using in-house social media tools.

68% of those organisations are using social learning to build networks inside the organisations; 55% to support learning generation and sharing of user generated content; 54% for individuals to communicate in real time; 51% to reinforce formal learning and 49% to support personal professional development.

Interestingly, although the number of organisations using social media is still relatively low they appear to be the tools where the most growth is expected in the next two years.

Finally, the study highlights that learning was not seen as a management priority by 53% of organisations surveyed in 2012, up from 45% in 2011. Whilst there was little change in the top two obstacles to learning technology success – the lack of skills amongst employees to manage own learning went up one per cent from 2011 to 2012 to 63% and the lack of knowledge of potential use and implementation remained the same, as the 2011 figure at 62%.

Notes to editor

* 500 organisations took part in the 2012 Benchmark Study, 700 organisations details were analysed to find out the average business benefits.

** Top learning organisations are defined by Towards Maturity as organisations in the top quartile of the Towards Maturity Index (TMI), the benchmark measure of how an organisation’s learning technologies implementation compares with good practice distilled from the latest industry advice. Top learning companies case studies can be found at http://www.towardsmaturity.org/tag/top-quartile-learning-organisations/

The Towards Maturity Benchmark Study 2012 is the sixth study of its type by Towards Maturity.  In 2012 65% of respondents were either senior managers or responsible for strategy.  The organisations that took part in the 2012 study were from 37 nations.  53% were from the private sector, 30% from the public sector and 17% from not-for-profit organisations.

The Towards Maturity Benchmark Study report entitled Bridging the gap – integrating learning and work, can be downloaded for free from http://towardsmaturity.org/shop/

The main chapters in the report include:

  1. The bottom line – independent evidence of the impact that learning technologies are having in improving efficiency and building competency faster, based on data from over 700 organisations gathered in the last 30 months
  2. Top trends – looking at changes in budget allocation, resource allocation, tools and technologies and barriers to success
  3. Workflow integration – 4 missed learning opportunities
  4. Learner Engagement – 3 missed learning opportunities
  5. What does good look like – a summary list of the characteristics of top learning companies

The report is free thanks to the support of Towards Maturity’s Ambassadors.