Hi-tech companies don’t always have hi-tech solutions

Joining the Saffron Interactive team last week, I’ve quickly come to appreciate the significance of an issue that I’ve known has existed for many years concerning the use of learning technology.

I remember well how our classroom-style training sessions, during my time working for Orange, went. The instructor would tell you how to use a piece of software and we would use (often unreliable) dummy systems to put his or her instructions into action. The experience always reminded me of being at school, when a learned teacher would attempt to pass on his or her knowledge onto a classroom full of unenthusiastic pupils. You’d think that such a hi-tech mobile telecommunications company would be keen to implement learning technology solutions at every opportunity when they have been proven to improve performance, yet they were reluctant to take advantage of some of the most exciting developments in the field. Why was this the case?

Like most other businesses, Orange’s Learning & Development department was relegated to a secondary function within the organisation. Even while the company was experiencing rapid growth, investment in new learning technologies seemed lacklustre and insufficient from the employee’s perspective. Yet it was during my time on the frontline of technological innovation there between 2003 and 2008 that I came to appreciate the exciting opportunities that 21st century advances in telecommunications technology were bringing; the rapid evolution of mobile telecommunications throughout the last decade, from ‘dumb’ phones with monochromatic screens and no cameras to modern smartphones with touchscreens and full internet capabilities, is indicative of what is to come as the internet becomes ever more ubiquitous, and people become more connected, than ever before. Consider that it took radio 38 years, but the internet only four years, to reach 50 million users. Facebook added 100 million users in less than 9 months.

The rate of technological advancement can often seem overwhelming. Staying on top of developments is often enough of a challenge for most; but harnessing the incredible opportunities presented to us is another challenge altogether.

While I’m familiar with e-learning from a consumer perspective, over the last week I’ve had something of a crash course in learning technologies from a business perspective. It’s exciting to see the Saffron Interactive team are so active in mobile and social learning technologies; they clearly understand where e-learning is going and I’m excited to help get us to the destination.