Technology has revolutionized how we learn and acquire new skills and knowledge at work. As we look into the future of technology for the frontline workforce in 2023, we made predictions into how the landscape will look. We can expect to see advancements in artificial intelligence, machine learning, as well as a rise in personalized and mobile learning. With these technologies and others, the industry will undergo a transformation that will initiate a new era of work.
Before we go into technology predictions, here are the market conditions that impacted my take.
Will 2023 be a year of recession?
Experts say that a downturn could be just around the corner. The Federal Reserve is increasing interest rates until prices become more reasonable. The result? The economy shrinks, and a recession takes place. Should there be a recession, there will be an immense impact on how businesses hire and train and grow their employees. Read ahead for how this impacts the labor market.
There were around 7 million job openings in July 2019, versus nearly 11 million today. What does that mean? For every two job openings, there is one person available to work. That means demand for increased output will grow, and the market will be in favor of employers rather than frontline workers. The effects of which are higher levels of productivity and lower labor dollars. We saw this in the 2008 recession.
Will 2023 be a year of consolidation?
When businesses merge, they create a bigger entity by joining several companies or divisions together. This process of joining forces leads to improved efficiency, reduced competition, and the ability to enter new markets. In restaurants for example, there are several examples of consolidation. Freshii sold to Foodtastic. Applebees bought Fuzzy Taco Shop. And the bundling of technology is already on the rise as businesses demand lower cost solutions and tech companies witness investors tightening their belts and deepening their diligence.
Will 2023 be a year of innovation?
10 years ago we had to hire agencies to train our salespeople, deliver large HR initiatives, and create massive ad campaigns. Software has since made agencies relatively obsolete and brought innovation in house. Businesses with a frontline can leverage software to optimize their workforce from the start and patch cracks as they go, rather than needing to call on consultants to tear down the entire house and start over. The next year only holds more innovation. Open AI made it possible for computers to understand plain English rather than zeros and ones. Making it easier for coders and giving employers access to technology inputs that give them more control.
So, what innovation should we get excited about in 2023?
Artificial Intelligence in Training
There is no immediate threat to frontline or administrative jobs in deskless work (restaurants, manufacturing, etc) as a result of AI, only optimization. As companies look to maximize their return on investment (ROI) and do more with less, businesses will use AI technologies to minimize manual effort and time. AI can help to reduce pre-production costs by allowing organizations to shorten development cycles and create more customized content. Artificial intelligence will be used in training to automate processes, streamline workflows, and offer personalized guidance to help employees succeed. AI in training will also feature interactive content that engages admins and allows them generate templates from company resources.
Personalized Learning in Training
Personalized learning is used in training to create a more customized learning experience for each employee. Believe it or not, personalized learning is not nearly as far along as you may expect in the world of Learning Management Systems. That's where the opportunity to innovate begins. As we look outside of legacy technology like Learning Management Systems, learning experiences where trainees have a curated path according to their employment journey is increasingly more sophisticated. A combination of training, task management, and communication technology is on the rise. Employees who have more control over the learning experience are more motivated to participate in training activities, which boosts engagement and helps increase productivity.
Gamification in Training will simmer
I have changed my hypothesis about gamification for frontline teams. I don't believe that gamification is a sustainable or economical way to engage employees and get business results. I welcome the ensuing, heated discussion among my colleagues. Earning stars and getting badges is a temporary fix to a systemic problem - frontline employees aren't paid well. Their schedules aren't flexible. And they aren't provided meaningful benefits or training. It is a top down behavior change that has lasting effects.
Katy Milkman wrote a great article about the benefits and pitfalls of gamification in Wired. Research done by professors at Wharton concluded that games only benefit employees who buy into them. She writes "Did people follow the game? Did they understand the rules? Did they think it was fair? These questions were designed to measure which salespeople had “entered the magic circle,” meaning that they agreed to be bound by the game’s rules rather than the normal rules that ordinarily guide their work. After all, if people haven’t entered a game mentally, there’s no real point to it."
Mobile-First Learning in Training Will Boil
This has been a two to three year trend that I maintain is still on the rise. The majority of learning technology today is still not native mobile. It is web responsive. Mobile-first (ie "native") learning can be used to deliver a wide range of content, including video, audio, and text. Organizations can use mobile-friendly training content to help learners stay up-to-date on their skills while on the go. Tablets and laptops are now a backup, not primary, device at work.
As technology continues to evolve, it’s important that businesses keep up with the latest trends and innovations. The future of technology will be focused on advancements in AI as well as a rise in mobile and personalized learning. With these technologies and others, the frontline industries are set to undergo a transformation that will bring forth a new era of learning.