General Assembly’s corporate learning team was in attendance at Web Summit 2015, November 3-5, 2015, for its final year in Dublin. Bringing together some of the leading names from large brands, agencies, media, and startups–not to mention investors and the odd celebrity–Web Summit is the leading tech conference in Europe, with over 20,000 people from 100 countries in attendance.
Here we provide a digest of the most prescient trends, themes, and insights. Filtering out the noise, the sales pitches, and the occasional dud speaker, let’s discuss the most compelling takeaways from the three days:
It’s 1977 and a CEO stands at the head of a boardroom and makes a sweeping declaration: “Personal computers will redefine the way business is done in the future.” There is some agreement–and conformity–in the room, while others struggle to understand what a “personal computer” even is.
Fast forward to 2015, and a CEO, mid-way through an hour-long Google Hangout with his leadership team, makes a sweeping declaration: “Big Data is will change our business forever.” Again, there is some agreement, but for the majority, “big data” is just another overhyped buzzword.
The personal computer did end up redefining business; it’s also redefined almost every aspect of society. Will the same be true for Big Data? With so much noise, jargon, and opinion surrounding the impact of future trends–Mobile, Social, Virtual Reality, Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, and Big Data–how can you identify game-changing trends from short-lived fads?
In today’s changing business landscape, user experience (UX) is quickly becoming a key differentiator allowing brands to cut through the noise and create a unique value proposition for their customers. It makes sense; what could be more valuable to a customer than having a great experience?
Within major corporations, if addressed at all, UX has traditionally been siloed within product and design teams instead of being treated as a company-wide initiative. UX is vital not only for product teams, but also for marketing, sales, customer service, and even HR. (Employees are users too–EX as we call it at GA!)
When examining some of the standout brands that have adopted a more holistic strategy around user experience, the results are strikingly clear. Almost every one of today’s most valuable companies is run by a CEO who puts user experience first–Chief Experience Officers. Let’s look at a few examples:
For the past few years, learning and development professionals have been talking about microlearning so much that it has taken an official seat–alongside badging, gamification, and MOOCs–in the E-Learning Buzzword Hall of Fame.
Though it may be trendy right now, microlearning is not a newly invented approach. It is a realization of how the human brain is wired to learn, and it is considered to be one of the best instructional approaches for new age learners.
So what is microlearning? Why has it recently become so popular in the corporate world in particular? And how are we harnessing its power at General Assembly?
Last week, I had an opportunity to attend Charles Melcher’s Future of StoryTelling Summit at Snug Harbor in Staten Island. The Future of StoryTelling (FoST), a conference founded in 2012, invites influential thinkers to discuss how technology is going to change the “most fundamental unit of human culture”–the story. I was part of a team of graphic recorders visually capturing various roundtable sessions throughout the two-day event. What follows is my own story of my experience at the conference and some of my thoughts about what the future has in store for storytelling.
Bonus insight: it’s tough to take a great photo when you’re in the cheap seats.
Last week, I attended the HR Tech World Congress in Paris. From humble beginnings, HR Tech World has grown to be one of the most significant gatherings of HR professionals in Europe, with conferences in London, Amsterdam, and now Paris.
Though most of the conference was centered on IT for HR services–with companies like SAP, IBM, Oracle, and Workday presenting their latest products–the first day of the conference offered breakout sessions focused on learning & training initiatives.
There are three key takeaways I’d like to share from their talks–and from the broader Learning & Development conversations that were happening at the conference:
According to an Altimeter report last year, 88% of companies are undergoing a formal digital transformation effort. As a part of these efforts, many are investing significantly in digital training, either internally or externally with corporate training programs like General Assembly’s.
In talking to many of these companies, we’ve noticed that investment in digital training begins and ends with the same groups—IT, marketing, and product teams.
For companies undergoing a digital transformation, there are usually very specific problems to focus on in these divisions. CIOs and CMOs are first in line, and we understand why. But to engender a real, comprehensive transformation, businesses have to focus on getting all teams up to speed, including some of the less obvious players.
Spending on programmatic advertising has exploded in the past three years–in 2013 marketers spent $4B on programmatic; in 2016, this number will top $20B [eMarketer]. The key behind programmatic advertising’s growth lies in its ability to target. Programmatic offers advertisers the opportunity to automatically run an ad campaign in real time to reach the right consumer with the right message in the right context.
To target so effectively, programmatic advertising relies on a large volume of data. This data can come from different sources, so understanding these sources is a great first step to understanding programmatic advertising.
The digital landscape is rapidly evolving, and training large, global teams on topics that change from one day to the next is no easy challenge. That is why General Assembly developed the online training platform, The Essentials of Digital Marketing.
This year L’Oréal partnered with General Assembly to create a learning program to educate its 7,000 global employees. The e-learning on the Essentials of Digital Marketing will be supplemented by in-person workshops that will be customized by country and that will do a deeper dive into topics such as e-commerce, social media, and precision marketing.
2015 has been an unprecedented year of media agency reviews–the list of companies who reevaluated their ad spend reads like a who’s who of the deep pocket set– Procter & Gamble, Unilever, Coca-Cola, SC Johnson, and L’Oréal to name just a few. Ad Age estimated more than $17 billion up was for grabs and even christened the cataclysm with its own moniker– “Mediapolooza.”
It’s logical to conclude from this trend that brands are expecting more from their agency partners, especially with regards to technology. Thorough, up-to-date comprehension of the rapidly evolving digital marketing landscape has become absolutely crucial for any agency looking to grow their business.