I sat down with our Chief Product Officer, Erin Pinkowski, for a mid-year discussion on what we’re hearing and seeing from our clients in 2022 as well as what’s on the product roadmap for the rest of the year.
Paul: Erin, what core challenges has BizLibrary been seeing from their customers in 2022?
Erin: Pretty consistently, the same 3 challenges continue to come up in conversations I’m seeing with Biz customers. Those are:
- Compliance and Risk Mitigation: Creating a safe and inclusive workplace that strengthens compliance and reduces risk to your people and business
- Upskilling and reskilling: Ensuring your employees have the skills they need to meet current business goals
- Leadership Development: Having talent availability for the future by developing confident, emotionally intelligent leaders
Paul: Talk to me about that first challenge: creating more inclusive work environments. Seems like a really hot button topic right now.
Erin: Yes, absolutely. At the heart of this challenge, it really all begins with basic compliance training and mitigating risk within your organization. As you start to span out, and how we’re seeing these programs evolve, they really are about ensuring organizations have an inclusive and welcoming culture and work environment. We continue to see heavy utilization within DE&I and health and wellness courses. Additionally, content around remote work and promoting a healthy work/life balance are now mainstays as these trends that began with COVID-19 become more and more the prevailing standard and expectation in the workforce. Our clients continue to show that empathy and inclusiveness are core tenets of their cultures and that manifests itself via their training programs among other things. A few other examples are increases we’re seeing for neurodiversity at work – a series BizLibrary offers through Softskills U – and we also have some great content around pronoun sensitivity and gender inclusivity in the workplace that’s been heavily utilized. I’d say the trend here is that these are becoming table stakes for recruiting and retaining top talent. If you don’t have courses and content that speak to the challenges and needs of the modern employee, your employees will find an employer that does. Whether it’s offering more flexible, hybrid work environments or showcasing your culture through the learning experiences you offer your employees, the employee of today has much higher expectations of their employer and what they stand for.
Paul: Which Biz clients are really tackling this challenge well and getting it “right”?
Erin: The clients who are getting it right are viewing every aspect of their training program as an opportunity to tell their company’s brand and culture story while giving employees the freedom and support to work on themselves both professionally and personally while “on the clock”. We encourage our clients to not view this first challenge as truly a risk mitigation tactic but really turn the conversation on its head and use these training programs as an opportunity to answer the question, “What do we stand for as a company?”
Paul: I love that! I also really like this concept of “values-based” learning where every aspect of your program is a reflection of your cultural values as an organization. The more closely your training is aligned to your values, the more likely your employees will view training as a strategic imperative and not a “check the box” exercise. I know our clients who approach their programs this way often gain quicker traction and see higher utilization across their programs.
Paul: Okay, let’s move on to the second challenge – upskilling and reskilling. We hosted our very first BOOST virtual conference on the Future of Upskilling this spring and the support and attendance was overwhelming so it doesn’t surprise me that this is your second big challenge. What trends are we seeing in this space?
Erin: We’ve always helped L&D professionals out with the core challenge of upskilling their people in some really core competencies around learning whether that’s leadership and new manager training, communications and sales training, or more technical training like IT skills or desktop applications. The evolution in the “skills game” is really all about creating an upskilling curriculum that’s personalized and targeted by individual job role.
That’s the whole concept behind the product BizSkills that we launched in Fall of 2021 that makes upskilling really effortless for the learner and for the administrator. This product was such a natural fit for us because, as a learning content company first and foremost, our platforms have always been designed with the learner in mind. The challenge is, no matter how great your platform user-interface is, there is a very real “paralysis by analysis” and targeting challenge when you have access to 10,000 courses.
BizSkills has allowed us to provide very job-specific, targeted learning content that’s pre-mapped to core skills required of a learner to successfully show mastery of that job. By automating this link from jobs to skills to content, we’ve made it effortless for our clients to deliver these kinds of programs without having to do all the legwork themselves. In talking to some of our clients, we learned that just mapping content and skills to a SINGLE job role could take in excess of 8-hours.
BizSkills frees up time in their day, allowing them to really lead the program versus live in that administrative burden all day. I think this is the future of upskilling where a learner feels that a personalized learning journey is just a click away and it will help them not only grow in their current job but also develop the skills needed to grow within their org.
Paul: You mentioned career pathing also. How does BizSkills solve for The Great Resignation and employee retention challenges that we’re seeing today?
Erin: Yes, great question and that happens a number of ways. First off, we’re seeing that BizSkills is opening up so many new doors for our clients. It’s showing their employees that they care about their development and opening up new lines of communication about career pathing that weren’t happening before.
Additionally, the product acts as a mechanism for an employee to see not only the skills and curriculum they need to master in order to be proficient in the job they have today, but with new features like Skill Interest and Role Matches, they’re able to take courses on skills that aren’t a 1-to-1 match for their current job, or see other jobs within their organization that their current skillset does align to. In other words, there’s a lot more transparency for them and opportunity for growth as they think about their skillset and where it might best fit both in their personal career aspirations, but they also see where they might fit in the plans and needs of their organization. It’s a win-win across the board!
I’m also excited to launch the Skills Genie this fall which will use AI-mapping technology to allow a learner or admin to add a job to the library and have it map the skills and content required of that position, even if it wasn’t previously in our pre-built database.
Paul: I think we can kill two birds with one stone on this final question. Talk to me more about that third challenge: leadership development. And also, within that context, can you speak to how you see BizLibrary’s product offering evolving in the back half of 2022 and beyond?
Erin: Yes! I’m very excited you asked. We believe that personalized learning drives more purposeful development. Today, with our current offering, we’re actually equipped nicely to solve these challenges because everything we do is not just about watching a video lesson or attending a classroom training session and expecting for someone to be able to consume that information and be more competent.
Our tech platforms are enabling successful adoption and education of those lessons. We do this today via video interactions that test retention. We do it via pre- and post-quizzes that are available to test a learner’s knowledge. It’s done in how the content is delivered – it’s engaging and provides that Netflix-type experience. We have products like reinforcement boosters, which allow for more opportunities for retention and application of lessons learned. So already, we’re constantly striving to make the experience feel as personalized as possible. I mean, look at our content itself – the content is short, engaging, interactive and reinforced. It’s also customizable so it feels like it comes from your organization and allows you to upload your own courses as well.
Now, a lot of those elements that exist today really do a great job of helping learners master skills and the curriculum required to do their job successfully. They help learners with retention and reinforcement, but, we really see the product roadmap of where BizLibrary is going focused much more on the “development” part of L&D. That starts with the ability to practice mastery and receive coaching and feedback in a virtual or hybrid setting. With the release of our virtual classroom functionality in September, that feature will facilitate opportunities for individuals to learn from each other, receiving feedback in live and remote sessions. It will allow for the tracking and maintenance of these sessions all in one place.
We heard repeatedly from clients last year that they would love for all of their training and development to live in one central hub, and that’s why our virtual classroom product will create for them. A central repository for all virtual and in-person trainings.
Additionally, we are in development on a product that is going to supercharge our existing, expert-led training courses that we call our Expert Insight Series. That series has been a huge hit with customers, now featuring upwards of 20 experts providing deep dive, expert courses around the most pressing topics like remote leadership, professional selling, cybersecurity, and much more. This Fall, customers will be able to tap into a premium content product called BizAcademy. BizAcademy will offer tailored, expert-led learning experiences for organizations’ most important leaders and high potentials that will help them feel more confident in their jobs and connected to your organization. These will be three-to-six-month cohort learning environments focused primarily on that third challenge we hear again and again, “How do I develop my leaders so that they stay and grow with my company?”
The great part here is we already have all of the experts with experience in this space, and we have the supplemental learning courses and development plans to really make this a 360 degree learning experience that can quickly and effectively develop new managers, high potentials, and existing leaders. Within that curriculum, these learners will frequently meet with an instructor (Our Experts), their peers in the course via 1-on-1 sessions, and small group discussions and workshops. They’ll also go through practice exercises and engage in other learning methods that will help them master key skills in order to drive business objectives forward for our clients. These experiences will likely include a mix of both virtual, instructor-led training as well as independent learning and will use our new virtual classroom technology to enable both the practicing of key skills as well as coaching from mentors within the learners’ organization. BizAcademy feels like such a natural extension of our current product offering as a way to help customers with more in-depth leadership development that goes above and beyond some of the great microlearning experiences we offer today.
Paul: Wow! I am pumped to see both Virtual Classroom rolled out as well as BizAcademy later in the Fall. I can really see how our current solutions and product roadmap further enforce our goals of both creating a more competent and compassionate future but also really honing in on that development piece of L&D that’s becoming more and more important to retention and growth for our clients. Thanks Erin, and I can’t wait to hear more about our product roadmap at our ALIGN conference this Fall!