Why is digital training still failing businesses today?

No-one likes to be left behind. Especially when it comes to organisations staying one step ahead with digital transformation. A recent survey we carried out at AVADO, ‘Digital Readiness Index’, showed that 93% of businesses were keen to upskill team members and provide digital training. But is purely investing in it enough? With $400 billion being spent on corporate training each year, only 11% is considered to have been effective.1

So if businesses are willing to invest the time and money into digital training, why is it still failing?


Senior leaders only “pay lip service” to digital training

Senior leaders are under a lot of pressure to ensure that their organisation has a certain level of digital understanding. However, 55% of L&D Managers surveyed said that they were worried that senior leaders only ‘pay lip service’ to digital training. This means training is often viewed as a tickbox exercise, with time and investment from both sides coming to a standstill after the training is over.


Businesses struggle to define what ‘digital’ means to them

Defining what ‘digital’ actually means can be one of the most problematic challenges that businesses face.  It was revealed that 59% of respondents – who themselves are responsible for learning and development – had a moderate to poor understanding of digital. While it may mean online marketing to some people or social media skills to others, defining what digital means in the context of the business is key. Without this in place it can be difficult to determine the outcome for employees, resulting in non-specific or irrelevant training.


Businesses need to incorporate ‘digital’ as a mindset

Even if digital training is currently being carried out, there are still some departments that are being left behind. As mentioned above, 59% of L&D managers, who are responsible for implementing the training, admitted that they have a low level understanding of digital. So it’s no surprise that only 23% of training was seen in HR teams. With 42% of training taking place across Sales and Marketing, followed by 36% in Accounting and Finance, it shows that digital training is still weighted towards Sales and Marketing, as emphasis is put on digital execution rather than a digital mindset across the whole business.


Training is not being benchmarked or measured

While it’s good having digital training in place for employees, it can become a pointless exercise if the outcomes aren’t benchmarked or measured. Our survey revealed that 24% of businesses admit that the outcome of their digital training doesn’t deliver clear, measurable return on investment, and the same proportion don’t use any data to track the effectiveness of their learning programmes. This means that over three quarters of businesses aren’t following up on training or incorporating it into employees’ overall development. We also found that businesses don’t always integrate digital skills into employees’ performance reviews, with 39% of retailers currently failing to do this. With little incentive to carry out training and no contribution to KPIs, employees can become demotivated and fail to complete the course.


We need to adopt a modern approach to digital learning

There’s no doubt that digital training needs rethinking – the proof is in the statistics with more than 40% of adults failing to complete a course that they’ve started.2 The first thing that needs to be defined is what digital training means to the business and then setting out clear goals and objectives. Training then needs to be tailored to cater for specific needs and skills across the business – it shouldn’t be a one-size-fits-all approach as each employee will bring something different to their role. And finally, benchmarking and assessment needs to be put in place to measure what impact the training has had and how this can be carried forward into the future. Incorporating this into KPIs and performance reviews will provide the drive that employees need to proactively apply their skills.


At AVADO, our programmes are designed to be at the forefront of today’s fastest moving businesses. Combining the latest online learning methods and collaborative environments, we focus on meaningful outcomes that are based on instructional design and practical application, so that businesses can confidently apply their skills in the workplace. We believe that this is the best way to achieve results at scale – and with access to our international network of offices and trainers, support is always at hand.



1Shlomo Ben-Hur, Bernard Jaworski, and David Gray, September 01, 2015, “Aligning Corporate Learning With Strategy”, Available: http://sloanreview.mit.edu/article/aligning-corporate-learning-with-strategy/4/ 

2Papia Bawa, January-March 2016, “Retention in Online Courses: Exploring Issues and Solutions—A Literature Review”, Available: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/2158244015621777 

Stephanie Khan

Posted March 9, 2017