There's no doubt about it: E-learning is booming. According to an in-depth survey conducted by market research firm Global Industry Analysts (GIA), the e-learning industry is expected to top $100 billion in 2015. To date, well over three-quarters of corporations in the U.S. use e-learning for employee training, and that number is expected to grow throughout 2015 as more companies understand just how powerful the approach can be in training both new hires and current employees.
Companies that have already embraced e-learning in some form are expected to develop and expand their e-learning options to reach even greater numbers of workers and fine-tune a wide range of both short-term and long-term objectives. What's more, the use of cloud-based learning management systems (LMS) increased by 50 percent in 2014, and the industry as a whole is expected to grow at a rate of 25 percent during the next five years.
Those are interesting observations, but they don't answer the underlying question of why so many companies are turning to e-learning for their in-house training programs. The answers are actually pretty simple.Survey Underscores Value of LMS
According to the same survey from GIA, one of the primary reasons for companies' widespread adoption of e-learning is a desire to remain more productive and profitable by investing in their existing workforce, enabling employees to gain the skills they need without having to spend additional hours in costly off-site training. Of course, that also benefits employees by helping them become more valuable to their employers, reducing the chances they'll be replaced by more skilled workers.
And when it comes to new hires, businesses benefit by making sure every employee gets the training they need from day one; there's no need to wait until training becomes available, and no need to pull seasoned employees out of their regular duties to perform essential new-hire training. Plus, since the training is based on an established program and not the memory or skill of a specific trainer, companies can feel confident each and every employee gets the same level and same quality of training.
The GIA survey also noted the importance of e-learning in companies that have stringent regulations, such as chemical, drug and medical device companies, and in manufacturing and industrial environments where OSHA training is required. Companies in these regulated environments understand the tracking and recordkeeping enabled by an LMS provide critical evidence in the event of an audit.
Then, there are the logistics and cost benefits: E-learning doesn't require juggling schedules or finding funding to enable employees to travel to off-site training locations, and it also means you don't have to pull employees from their regular tasks for the sole purpose of training other employees. And of course, since e-learning is customizable, companies don't pay for training they don't need, and they can help ensure better results by helping employees stay focused on the information and training that's most relevant.
Plus, e-learning benefits employees as well by ensuring they stay up-to-date in new skills and new technologies. That means they're more likely to retain their jobs for longer periods of time - and that can provide a tremendous boost in morale and loyalty.
And finally, e-learning initiatives are surprisingly easy to implement. Wise Businessware, for example, offers a simple user interface and lots of support to help companies of all sizes develop and launch e-learning programs of their own.Late Adopters Face Major Risks
That explains why corporate e-learning is growing by leaps and bounds; what's more difficult to understand is why some companies that could reap big benefits from an LMS are still hesitant to adopt the approach. The most likely reason is that these companies aren't aware of the benefits of an LMS or don't understand how simple it can be to implement an e-learning initiative for their company. As a result, their delays mean they're losing out on profits and limiting their productivity and efficiency, making them easy prey for their competitors who may already be using e-learning in their own training programs.
One thing that's for sure: As technology advances, e-learning options will become more important for companies who want to ensure they remain relevant, viable and profitable, and companies who begin exploring their options now have the greatest chance of succeeding as their industries evolve.