What's ahead for learning in 2016 - bigger budgets and greater demand to improve business metrics.Chief Learning Officer magazine polls CLOs monthly, just to see what they’re thinking. As the calendar page flipped to 2016, their most recent poll showed insight into what’s ahead for learning in 2016.

Most of the takeaways are optimistic. There are no major surprises in the results. In fact, I see trends continuing that took root in 2014 and 2015.

Bigger and Better Budgets

One good thing to note is that budgets are increasing. Learning budgets increased 8 percent from 2014 to 2015. CLOs think those increases will continue. In fact, 60 percent think their training budget will increase again in 2016.

If this is the case for your organization, consider the value of of allocating part of that budget for learning measurement. (If this is something you haven’t worked out yet, you may want to see Training Measurement — Is It in Your Training Budget? Part 1 and Part 2.)

The state of measurement in L&D has fallen severely behind most other areas of the business. L&D professionals are concerned about the requirements to show learning’s worth. They understand learning measurement is their quality assurance program. They know measurement is required to understand learning’s contribution to business success.

In 2016, the advancements in the ease of measuring learning and the increase in budgets provide L&D professionals a good opportunity to allocate funds, measure learning results, and increase the credibility of learning in their organizations.

When you consider the sheer volume of data being collected by businesses today, in all areas of the business, it is vital that L&D starts doing a better job on this front. The need for learning measurement will only grow, especially as our profession is more frequently compared to the data driven decisions of other company functions.

Fortunately, L&D professionals are coming around. They have finally started to believe that learning is, in fact, measurable. The more you measure, the more you show the link between learning and business results.

When you measure learning and see your results, it becomes easier to highlight your ROI alongside other department leaders.

Demand to Tie Learning Initiatives to Business Objectives

Learning measurement leads us to another finding in the survey: 81 percent of CLOs think learning will be more aligned with business objectives.

Learning leaders must become partners to business. That mindset change will happen once learning professionals learn to speak the language of business.

What is the language of business? To put it simply: metrics.

All businesses use metrics to measure success. Metrics provide consistent benchmarks. You can see improvement or decline simply by looking at these measures over time.

Metrics describe business health. When a metric is off, it can usually be traced to a specific department — sales, marketing, R&D, customer service. These barometers measure the success of the company. Metrics provide the clue that something needs to be fixed.

The learning functions must learn to tune into these metrics when they create their learning solutions. When learning can fix the metric, we must step up with a solution.

As you imagine what’s ahead for learning in 2016 what are you greatest hopes for your learning department? Have you received a bigger budget for 2016? Are you facing pressure to show learning ROI? If you need help in these areas, I hope you’ll contact us here at eParamus.

Please follow eParamus on LinkedIn and feel free to connect with me, Laura Paramoure, PhD. I’d love to know more about your training challenges.

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