Not too long ago, the only way to access a movie or TV show was to trek down to your local Blockbuster store, scan the shelves and hope that what you wanted was in stock.
With the advent of streaming services such as Netflix, however, consumers can skip the store and access practically any show or film, at any time, on any device, as often as they like. Now, most brick-and-mortar video rental stores have gone out of business, and streaming reigns supreme.
By 2017, Gartner predicts that more than half of the world’s employers will require their workers to supply their own devices on the job, and training organizations that don’t find ways to get their business-critical content onto those devices will be left behind.
Here are the eight signs your training content is as obsolete as Blockbuster (and how you can make it more like Netflix):
1. Your employees live in a mobile-centric world, but your content doesn’t. Today, we all live and die by our mobile devices. If your training content is not on them, then you’re missing the biggest opportunity to get your message where your users are spending the most time.
2. Your employees can’t refer to your content when they need it, in context and in real time. Often, your users won’t realize that they need to know something until the situation calls for it. If the answer’s buried in a binder at their desk or on a desktop computer, they can’t use it.
3. Your employees are accustomed to real-time information, but your content is updated only twice a year. Maybe. Your workforce expects that most of what they consume is up to date and accurate; your training materials should be no different.
4. Your training content confuses “long and boring” with “thorough and effective.” If your content is a long stream of text and graphs in a PDF or binder or, worse, endless slides, you’re making it harder for your users to connect to and absorb the material, given that they’re getting “bite-size” information everywhere else.
5. Your version of “self-paced e-learning” involves your user sitting at a desktop computer for hours at a time. True self-paced learning means enabling your users to absorb the content at their own pace, anywhere they like-whether on the bus, during the carpool or at lunch.
6. Instead of using your training materials, your employees look for the info they need on Google and Wikipedia because it’s easier to get. Your employees, especially millennials, will look for the path of least resistance to the information they need, and if you don’t give it to them, they’ll find it elsewhere.
7. You’re stuck between a rock and a hard place when it comes to content security. Do you lock up sensitive information-such as internal product details, sales numbers or company policies-behind elaborate password-protected systems, or do you distribute via unregulated PDFs and spreadsheets, crossing your fingers that no one accidentally emails something externally? It’s difficult for both employees and leadership to feel confident about either path.
8. You have no idea how effective your content is or how much people are absorbing and using it. Once you hand over your content to your users, it goes into a black hole, with no information passed back about effectiveness or application. With the right kind of mobile-optimized content, you can use big data within your own organization to see what works and, more important, what doesn’t.
Already, innovative training organizations are liberating their content from endless slide decks, hefty binders and desktop computer programs. Instead, they’re turning to mobile-learning technologies and platforms that help them transform their old materials into beautiful, engaging, mobile-optimized content that answers the demands of the modern workforce.
Amelia Salyers works at Inkling as a content marketing lead. When she joined in 2011, Inkling was still only an interactive digital textbook startup, and she’s been a part of Inkling’s expansion as a publishing platform for all kinds of learning content. She is excited to share the Inkling story and digital content expertise that Inkling has developed in-house. A version of this article first appeared on the Inkling blog.