How COVID-19 Has Reshaped IT Learning

Today, when you sit down to watch a television show, you likely log onto your favorite streaming service and comb through various categories and recommendations until you settle on an option.

Perhaps you have watched previous episodes and are picking up where you left off. Or, perhaps you want to venture into an all-new show. You might be watching on a television screen, but if you are watching on-the-go, you are probably using a tablet or smartphone instead. No matter which show you choose, you are in the driver seat, able to choose, pause, and continue content whenever desired, from wherever desired.

This evolving consumer behavior is not limited to entertainment; it has changed across other industries, including learning. As today’s media consumers adopt new manners of media consumption and adapt to significant changes introduced by COVID-19, IT learning must also shift its approach to meet the needs of individuals, wherever they may be in their learning journey.

A Changing Classroom

Throughout the past several years, we have seen broad trends in the IT learning landscape, including emphasis on subscription models, digital delivery platforms, social learning, guided virtual live sessions, more immediate access to experts, and more modular training content. My time as a member of the Technology and Services Industry Association board has allowed me to see the progress of these trends across the industry.

The current pandemic, however, has accelerated and highlighted the pertinence of these trends. As a result of COVID-19, the traditional physical classroom experience has metamorphosed, and it is unlikely to return to the exact same experience we once came to expect.

Whereas you may have previously traveled to participate in a multi-day training event, today’s IT learning allows for a more flexible and focused experience that fits better to your everyday work and private life, especially amid changes like working remotely.

Modularization of study — breaking up training into smaller pieces for the individual learner — has been increasingly incorporated within the overarching learning industry as we see that day-long training sessions are not always the most effective learning format for everyone. Just like selecting and streaming a television show, today’s learner can choose the relevant training they want and complete it at a time and speed that works for them.

By blending physical and virtual instructor-led training, interspersed with self-study, companies can achieve learning objectives within a target timeframe while also accommodating individual learning preferences and current realities like the challenges of COVID-19.

Because SAP has been transforming its learning offerings over the past five years, its existing digital and cloud-based platform offerings have allowed for faster adjustment to the changes in learning conditions and digital media consumption brought on by the pandemic. Yet, the sudden impact has been like a stress test and has provided new insights for where innovation adds value and as we are continuously rethinking how we can help our learners learn best.

We may never return to the same level of traditional classroom experience, but the human element of learning remains absolutely critical. Live online interactive classroom instruction as well as expert-led, collaborative peer-to-peer learning and intuitive learning simulations are just some of the ways the enhanced SAP Training and Adoption portfolio has been flexibly designed to optimize each learner’s experience.

Looking Forward

For the immediate and post-COVID-19 future, we predict that the need for knowledge and skills will persist, increasingly in virtual and digital formats. The speed of innovation is only increasing, and IT learning must be quickly and effectively delivered so that learners can consume it in a way that truly creates value.

A report by Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic and Josh Bersin in the Harvard Business Review said: “The single biggest driver of business impact is the strength of an organization’s learning culture.” Technology is disrupting every industry and area of life, and work is no exception. One of the main career implications of the digital revolution is a shift in demand for human expertise. For instance, LinkedIn’s talent research shows that half of today’s most in-demand skills were not even on the list three years ago.

Continuous learning remains a core focus and value of our offerings, which is why the SAP Training and Adoption portfolio provides regular updates to include the latest relevant training content.

This new way of learning is possible, and as McKinsey & Company notes, the need to invest in learning “has never been more insistent.” The global pandemic has brought renewed focus to the pre-existing need for reskilling, while also allowing for the rethinking of specific ways in which different learners best absorb and apply new skills and information.

As individuals’ preferred way of learning and consuming media evolves — and as challenges like the pandemic further reshape the way we learn — SAP will evolve and elevate its portfolio to help customers achieve success and business impact, including improvements in key performance measures and increases in satisfaction.

Through a variety of choices for instruction environments, in-product guidance, contextual help in a multitude of languages, full visibility into the usage of SAP solutions, and more, the focus of the SAP Training and Adoption portfolio on the learner experience will support individuals’ learning journeys tomorrow and beyond.


Jan Meyer is head of Global Business Portfolio Management and Business Development for SAP Knowledge and Education.