Recap - How Big Events Change Work Tech Forever

The world of Work Tech is always evolving. Those of us who work in learning design, training, and HR know that well. Remember when mobile learning was just the beginning of an idea? A “wouldn’t that be cool if…” thing to talk about at conferences and work happy hours. Or when xAPI first burst onto the scene trying to dethrone SCORM. 

But those were small evolutions compared to the massive disruption that the training industry experienced when the first pandemic lockdowns sent everyone home to work from their couch, dining table, or bed. 

Every so often, an event of such magnitude occurs that the Work Tech landscape is rapidly and forever changed. Companies who make the leap to the new organizing principle will beat the companies who don’t. 

In this eLBX Online 2021 session this summer, Bret Starr discussed how COVID-19 will change Work Tech forever.

Bret Starr is Founder and CEO of The Starr Conspiracy, an integrated experience agency that has served thousands of Work Tech companies around the world since 1999. Bret is an author, speaker and executive, but spends most of his time in the lab and working directly with clients.

The first topic Bret covered in his session was Organizing Principles. This is a term his agency uses to identify moments in markets when everything changes and why they change.

What is an Organizing Principle?

A big event or big change

Which leads to...

Big fight

That comes down to...

A very simple question

Resulting in a...

New world

Initially many of these changes are imperceptible, but over time they become very obvious and you can see the scale of change.

The example Bret gave in the presentation was the development of the World Wide Web. 

The Big Event was the invention of the World Wide Web in 1989, primarily so researchers and academics could collaborate. The Big Change (in the context of technology and work tech), occurred when Salesforce launched the first pure SaaS (software as a service) software product in 1999.

Now, several things happened over the years in between the invention of the internet and the launch of the software as a service model. But when the big change occurred, many felt like it happened overnight.

Next, the Big Fight. Both buyers and vendors fought about the merits of SaaS versus on promise solutions. Today, I think we can confidently say that SaaS won the fight.

This leads us to the Simple Question. One of the first things buyers ask today—”Is this solution in the cloud?”

The entire field of Work Tech was reorganized around this simple question, creating a New World for software vendors. People who fought the change lost. People who embraced the change won. 

Now, what does this have to do with covid-19 and training?

Per the survey done by the Starr Conspiracy before this session, we can see that covid-19 had a big impact on organizations.

Survey question: My organization’s priorities and objectives radically changed as a result of covid-19.

  • 55% agree
  • 15% neutral
  • 30% disagree

Much of the change has been centered around employee experience and learning and development.

Survey question: Our needs and approach to employee experience changed significantly as a result of covid-19. 

  • 79% agree
  • 5% neutral
  • 16% disagree

Survey question: My organization changed (or plans to change) our learning solutions in response to what we learned during the pandemic.

  • 79% yes
  • 21% no

Looking at these results, it’s hard to deny that covid-19 has been an organizing principle in the Work Tech world.

Watch the short excerpt from Bret Starr’s session to hear him sum up this monumental change and where the world of workplace and learning technology is going.



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