The “Marketisation” of Learning & Development by Jackson David

#Digital-Learning #Learning #Talent-Management


Marketisation is a term usually reserved for companies gaining initial exposure to “market forces.” In this case, I feel the word applies well to what is happening within the Learning & Development (AKA, Learning & Capabilities) space of HR and Talent Management. In this case, the market forces are the manager and teams that live day to day in your business; they are the consumer.

For the last few years, I have seen a trend in Learning that surpasses the classroom facilitation environment at the level we saw in the early 2000’s with Apple’s innovation. It is a bit curious how far we have come with digital technologies, company environments, and sick and leave policies, talent attraction and so on; but Learning & Development lagged behind by at least a decade. Learning modules may have evolved some, especially with new content for a modern workplace but the way in which those learning elements are delivered and managed had little change. That is, until relatively recently.

Digital learning is no longer an “option.”

New Learning & Development tools that enable the content have to enter the “market” as a new tool entirely if they want to have a better chance of adoption. They also need to be marketed, much like you would go to the market to sell a new product. The engagement of your talent (the customer), providing of relevant, digital and clean content (the product), and constant marketing and engagement will be critical. Then, we must not forget the essential need of analysing the performance of the product (consumer analytics) to see what has worked, what hasn’t, and how to improve the current or future product for a better ROI. In short, learning now needs to follow a marketing guideline through to performance analytics.

We have seen the emergence of companies like Udemy, MindValley, and the elevation of LinkedIn Learning, which are all focused entirely on digital, short content, that you can do anywhere at any time. The new frontier, however, will be how companies can build their personalised digital applications for learning.

Apple Retail as an example does fairly good jobs of digestible content for selling tips, product training, and more recently visual merchandising. Their tool is a pure digital application that is designed for mobile view and play, in-store and on the go.

Estee Lauder Companies is also taking on this challenge, across brands and corporate functions. Designing and providing new, digital content for product and sales training as an example takes a marketing approach. From the pitch of the idea of original material, through to internal and external stakeholder buy-in. With an extensive remote and mobile workforce, digitisation and marketisation aren’t options; it’s more of a requirement.

What will be interesting in the years, and decades to come, is how companies and their vendors keep account of the “market trends,” known as the employee population trends which follow consumer trends. The only real way to do this, in my opinion, will be to have clean and robust analytics that tell a story of performance and engagement. If the employee shifts in ten years to desire more classroom and hands-on learning, then there may be another shift. My guess is that it will be a digital and likely remote classroom environment we see little of these days.

What is your company planning for digital learning? Comments and feedback are welcome!


Jackson David is currently the Global Head of Talent Acquisition, Sourcing, and Employer Brand at Etsy. He is also the founder of JD Talent Search + Strategies, a consulting consortium that works with start-ups and enterprise clients on executive search strategies, talent mapping, employer branding, and long-term talent strategies.

With now 20 years of both business and talent leadership experience, Jackson focusses a lot of his spare time on giving back to the community and supporting networking and product ideas to the Start-Up community. He is excited by creating pathways and mechanisms for people to reach success and is equally passionate about travel, family, and new technologies.