The Corporate Training Predictions You Need to Know for 2017

corporate training predictions

Ah yes. The annual December tradition of crystal-balling the coming year is alive and well. And who am I to be the Grinch and sit this one out. I’m all in on 2017!

2017 is going to be fantastic for training, learning and development. And no, I don’t believe that I just jinxed it. Some really cool stuff has happened with the internet, cloud computing, the iPhone, etc. But that’s just the beginning. The industry made some advances moving to the cloud and keeping pace with main stream use of tech, but there is room to grow. There have been many changes over the last 10 years, but they will pale in comparison to the next 10.

But I don’t want to jump that far out. Let’s just start with the iterative changes that you will begin to feel in 2017.

Neuroscience will Replace Outdated Instructional Design Models

Or perhaps neuroscience will confirm some of what was theorized 50 years ago. Either way, neuroscience will rule our conversations as more and more professionals will demand “proof” that your training will work. Do any of you still reference the Hannafin and Peck media selection guide? Yea, that’s what I thought.

I find myself referring to “traditional training” methods less and less. I finally believe that most of L&D is aware how crippling and inefficient our old ways have become. Don’t get me wrong. There are still times when a thorough design and development process is useful and wise. But there are also opportunities for corporate training professionals to think about processes that better support the neuroscience of learning.

I’ve experienced more and more Litmos customers seeing the light. We now have the technology to create and deliver content at the speed of learning, not the speed of training. That changes who we are, what we do, and how we add value to the business. And that’s the key. We can now be a strong integrated part of the business because we know more about how the brains of our employees process the content we produce. We’ve shifted from only producing training events, to producing training experiences that are supported by content, and engagement, at the moment of need (HT: Bob Mosher and Conrad Gottfredson) during the long term learning process. The neuroscience and new technologies give us everything we need to improve performance and make a difference. But only if we adapt and appreciate the new workplace environments and needs of the business.

The Stand Alone Learning Management System

I can’t find anyone in the industry to say nice things about an LMS they were given because it came as part of a Talent Management System. It’s like an old bone that HR throws to the training dogs. Gee thanks. But it’s time for the LMS to rise again. It’s not dead. Far from it. Previous years were filled with foundation building. Creating usable cloud systems with strong integration capabilities and helping training managers run their departments like a business. Many already enjoy the power of a system like Litmos, but 2017 is the year many more training managers will see the reality of their business and drop their dependance on HR systems. Training activities should communicate with other systems, not be owned by them. This is where APIs turn your standard cloud-based LMS into a strong enterprise platform for learning. Training managers are beginning to realize that they NEED a system they can own and control in order to be successful and taken seriously within the business. 2017 is the year training managers dump their cumbersome complicated systems and join the growing number of professionals taking back control of their departments with a stand-alone LMS.

Live Video Streaming

This trend hit hard and fast in 2016. Several apps were born and died within the year. Do you remember Meerkat, or Most of our industry is still oblivious to the amazing live streaming capabilities the internet now contains. Well, oblivious may be too strong. Most probably know it exists but just haven’t connected it’s rapid growth to the impact it will have on our industry. And I say the internet, because it was the introduction of a foundational layer with the protocols of the internet (like WebRTC) that now makes live streaming not only possible, but insanely simple. It’s so new that the usual organizations still have not discussed it’s presence let alone work towards use case standards. Despite L&D being slow with technology, live video streaming is here to stay and will be a HUGE topic in 2017. Watching NFL games via twitter should give you a significant reality check in this space. It’s very real, and a powerful medium for learning.

Virtual Reality Gets Real!

I don’t need to say much here. This one is pretty obvious. However, some people are still telling me VR is not ready for prime time. It makes me smile. Because I know it’s poised and ready for a real place in your 2017 training strategy. The first step will be 360 degree photos and videos. I actually don’t refer to that as virtual reality. But everyone else does and so I’m not fighting the trend. So, in 2017, start by dabbling in 360 degree videos as part of your training experience. Think of it as a more immersive and impactful form of video. So where ever you use 2D video, try using 360 video and test the response.

But just remember that fully immersive and interactive 3D environments will be taking over quickly. I experienced the learning potential of fully immersive VR 20 years ago. The powerful learning gains are incredible. And I couldn’t more excited about it’s return and rapid growth.

Some of you will simply start with immersive experiences and skip the 360 step. But 360 video is a safe step towards introducing the idea of VR to the audience you support. You must make the decision based on your specific business needs. There is no right or wrong answer here. Just be aware that there are solutions you can have right now. Virtual reality is not a future tech. It’s here now and highly effective. 2017 will prove it.

Industry Conferences Will Adapt

I have not witnessed a change in conference formats since my first conference attendance in 1995. Other industries and their event producers have been experimenting with new formats for several years now and they are working. The engagement levels are refreshing to see. And the buzz they create is infectious. They don’t shut down audience members from live streaming. Unless of course the event is live streaming openly, then why duplicate the effort. They encourage it. They crush the cliques and create formats of equal participation. Yes, they have speakers. And yes, they have sessions. But the process of inclusion has significant impact and appeal. It all starts with having a purpose for gathering, and doing more talking less. You will see a lot of event, and community, experiments launch in 2017. Some were launched in 2016, and will continue to grow. But the desire for change is strong. We’ve had enough of the status quo. Of all industries, OURS should be leading this change. In 2017 we will.

No More Millennial Conversations

This one is just a pipe dream of mine. The iPhone and other groundbreaking new technologies have been around for a decade or longer. It’s time to stop thinking that us old farts don’t get it. I’ve taught 80 year olds how to successfully navigate their new smartphones. They get it. However, if you put the tech issues aside and just talk to older generations working with younger employees you will learn where all the hype comes from. It’s attitudes, not digital savvy, that differentiates the new generation in the workforce. There are conversations that need to be had, but changing the way we train because of changing workplace attitudes should not be one of those conversations. Any changes we make are made because the tech has finally caught up with how we learn, not because we think young people demand it.


I expect 2017 to be a transformative year for our industry. I haven’t felt like this about our industry in many years. The technology changes are larger and more accessible than they’ve ever been and an influx of new young training professionals gives me hope. They come without the baggage of the last 50 years and are open to providing business value instead of obsessing on instructional design processes. If that makes you uncomfortable then let’s talk about it. Let’s start some realistic industry conversations about the work you do and how we can better support the people we serve. Remember, you signed up for a “people career”, not a tech career.