The benchmarking business: Towards Maturity shows the way

A recurrent theme that emerged at Business EDUCA 2011 was the increasing need for businesses to deliver more for less. Without compromising quality, businesses want to improve agility, increase reach and build critical skills whilst saving time and money. Engaging in formal benchmarking is one way for companies to deliver those results faster than ever before, explains Laura Overton, the Managing Director of Towards Maturity.


At a time when people are demanding more from learning technologies, the annual Towards Maturity Learning Technology Benchmark is a free opportunity for businesses to gain a sound understanding of how learning innovations are impacting the workplace within their sector. Informally comparing notes with industry colleagues certainly has its value as participants at Business EDUCA 2011 discovered through the direct access they had to the ideas and experiences of speakers from organisations such as Toyota, PwC and Dixon Retail.  Nevertheless, there is more to be learnt from the distilled wisdom of hundreds of organisations, and therein lies the value of periodical benchmarking. Formal benchmarking entails comparing an organisation’s business performance and practices with industry norms and ideals. Businesses that benchmark find it a useful tool for keeping abreast of their competitors’ operations whilst monitoring their own progress so that they are empowered to act decisively.


New leaps and bounds in workplace learning


Benchmarking is an approach to streamlining workplace learning and development strategies that has grown in favour considerably in recent years. In the last two years, Towards Maturity has seen a 50% increase in the number of companies wishing to benchmark in order to understand what benefits are achievable from the use of learning technologies at work and what lessons can be learnt from the top performers. To date, over 1800 organisations have taken part in the Towards Maturity annual benchmarking survey since its launch in 2003.  The growing interest in benchmarking is reflected by the increasing participation of companies in Europe, the US, the Middle East and also those based in the Asia Pacific region.


In 2011, an astonishing 73% of participants reported that merely taking part in the Towards Maturity study had given them new ideas to improve the impact of their learning services.  This year’s study is even more thought-provoking, thanks to the valuable input of Jane Hart, Charles Jennings, Clive Shepherd, Nigel Paine and other leading industry experts, many of whom have spoken at ONLINE EDUCA BERLIN over the years.  The Towards Maturity Learning Technology Benchmark 2012 considers the breadth of technology-enabled learning, including mobile and social learning and their potential impact.  It allows users to review their approach across a range of implementation practices that consistently correlate with better results.


Benchmarking bonuses


A first foray into benchmarking is useful in that it provides the organisation a baseline against which future developments can be compared. Having some concrete figures helps staff to stay engaged and motivated whilst simultaneously learning from their mistakes.  Furthermore, setting learning and development goals in the organisation’s business plan takes on new significance once the targets are based on current industry metrics. With this information in hand, training departments can then justify an investment or a proposal for change in a company’s L&D routine.


Getting involved


The Towards Maturity Learning Technology Benchmark is completely confidential and also free for those taking part before July 30th, 2012. Although the study is aimed at L&D professionals responsible for implementing innovative learning and performance solutions in their places of work, education providers are welcome to participate either on behalf of a client or as individual entities reflecting on how their own use of technology is supporting their internal staff. Please click here for the online survey; it takes about forty minutes to complete. On completion of the survey, respondents receive a complimentary paper entitled 101 Tips for Success and a free personalised company benchmark report worth €370.


ONLINE EDUCA BERLIN is proud to support Towards Maturity 2012 Benchmark in Europe. Take a look at the Towards Maturity 2011 Benchmark Study here, learn more about the Ambassadors whose support has enabled the initiative to thrive and don’t forget to enter the global discussion of how businesses can deliver more for much less.


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