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Future Now – Business Performance, Skilling and Corporate Education

As a child I thought that the Year 2000 would bring a radically different world. I expected robots, flying cars, moving walkways. I hoped for space travel. It seemed like a future full of certainty – but it also felt like “the future” was a long way away.

During my working life, however, the pace of change seems to have accelerated; and wave upon wave of change in the workplace, in the economy and even at home seems to reinforce this fact. But these are not isolated changes – as John Hagel III, John Seely Brown (JSB), and Lang Davison explain in their recent report, The Big Shift. This report looks at the “deeper trends” and seeks to measure these against 25 metrics designed to make “longer-term performance trends more relevant and actionable”.

Hagel, JSB and Davison have identified three waves of deep change:

  • Foundation: this involves changes to the fundamentals of our business landscape driven by digital technology infrastructure and economic liberalization
  • Flow: this wave focuses on the flows of knowledge, capital and talent resulting from the first wave (as well as the amplifiers of these flows)
  • Impact: what are the consequences of the Big Shift – and how are enterprises able to participate in, and harness the knowledge flows to create value and improve business performance.

According to the report, “current metrics indicate that we are still in the first wave of the Big Shift”. However, by understanding these waves, the authors suggest that firms will gain significant insight about the moves required to improve current performance. And it comes as no surprise that knowledge and learning are fundamental to this:

Companies must move beyond their fixation on getting bigger and more cost-effective to make the institutional innovations necessary to accelerate performance improvement as they add participants to their ecosystems, expanding learning and innovation in collaboration curves and creation spaces. Companies must move, in other words, from scalable efficiency to scalable learning and performance. Only then will they make the most of our new era’s fast-moving digital infrastructure.

Increasingly, and for a number of reasons, enterprises are reconsidering their approach to skilling and corporate education. Many of these echo the report’s findings.

As Cory Coley-Christakos A Real Invite to Virtual Education, “The bottom line is that organizations now have [learning and development”] options.  The ‘one size fits all’ approach is no longer effective, and a more flexible format allows a broader audience to benefit from different learning paths.”

But what does this mean for your SAP skills? How might this play out across your career? And how is SAP Education responding and seeking to support the SAP ecosystem – from independent consultants through to partners and customers? This slidecast by Joe Westhuizen presents some of our most recent thinking and provides a sneak peek at what we are calling “Learning on Demand by SAP”.

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  • I can't wait for the learningondemand website to be up and running.  I love to learn.  SDN has been wonderful.  It sounds like learning on demand takes everything one step further. 

    Great idea!


  • The links referenced in this blog provided some fodder for thought concerning the learning opportunity in this workspace and in the ecosystem. In the Harvard article I was struck by the following statement: "The more participants and interactions you bring together in one place, the more performance and learning improve."  It would be fascinating to gauge and access the learning improvements of long term members of this community to see whether engagement here can measurably improve performance.  I wonder if there are members of SCN who can "prove" the above theory to be accurate.
    • I saw that quote myself! This is exactly the thinking behind Learning on Demand. And while I have a feeling that this is the case, I don't have anything other than anecdotal evidence.