Some human learning on becoming and staying a digital leader

In Dion Hinchcliffe’s excellent article on enterprise technologies to watch in 2016 he posted a fascinating graphic that mapped the strategic and tactical technologies that were either emerging or entering main stream enterprise infrastructure. We were struck by the emphasis on digital learning in driving significant incremental improvement in existing infrastructure and services.

Though he noted that such use of technologies was ‘Not noticed [as] much outside of the learning and development industry’. This is an insight that has been proven by the journey we have been on over the last three years at humanLearning.


A grand design.

In 2013, like a number of aspiring start-ups, we embarked on an idealistic quest to show how our SmartVideoNotes product would revolutionise learning and development. We had talked to people from the valley and looked deep into research on neuroscience and learning. We considered the leading technological trends and guessed, correctly in this case, that video would be a key format in the near future. Video was also, by a factor of 5, the most effective communications medium. We discussed at length the problems we had faced within large businesses in keeping training and key insights from the field alive and accessible. And we started to map our product functionality.

The simple life

Our purpose was to try and simplify work life for busy professionals in order to allow them more time to enjoy life. With this in mind and taking everything we had learned into account we created a smart, simple yet powerful mobile video platform to facilitate the capture, sharing and persistency of insights.

This quote from Jack Welsh summed up exactly the problem we believed we had solved “An organization’s ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage.” We were fairly sure clients would soon be queuing round the block.

Reality bites.

In any technology start-up’s life there comes a moment where your dreams collide with reality. If you’re lucky or have great advisors to help you this isn’t a horrible accident.

We have great advisors & angel investors who made us lucky.

And instead of crumpling on impact we found ourselves matching with a number of the key enterprise technologies Dion identifies to watch in 2016. As it turned out we had created a mobile enterprise app that was helping organisations solve some of the significant challenges of improving sales productivity. On our journey we had deployed contextual computing, machine learning and AI to help improve digital customer experience and team collaboration.

Follow the money

Dion correctly identifies that ‘mobile business applications have developed far more slowly than consumer apps’. And it was the realisation, that if we followed the issues that had CXO attention and therefore budget it would be a stronger play for our product. Now this sounds blindingly obvious but it is surprising how many other start-ups we have met that have been through a very similar journey. The ones that haven’t are either very clever, have bad memories or are closed. From a market where we struggled to find funding we now find ourselves in a space that, by the estimates Hinchcliffe quotes will be ‘worth $56 billion by 2017’ where ‘90% of companies will increase mobile app investment in 2016, with those with mobile workforces seeing substantial ROI’.

Same dream, different interpretation

This has been exactly our experience. Our propositional pivot reduced the lead to conversion cycle to less than 30% of what it was when we were trying to sell a radically disruptive peer-peer learning platform. We have embraced the mobile sales workforces challenges and found we were delivering at least a 5x ROI for our clients on a day one use case. Our product is in over 30 international markets in 8 languages now leading innovation for Fortune 500 firms. Looking back we set out on this journey to simplify work life and create more time to live life. The benefits we have found in sales enablement and productivity, team collaboration and digital customer experience are delivering exactly this for our clients, so maybe we haven’t moved that far from our dream after all.

Improving learning enables both the fuller realisation of workforce potential and is also the path to becoming and staying a digital leader…” Dion Hinchcliffe