By Tara O’Sullivan
The lights dimmed enveloping us in darkness with nothing but fist pumping music filling the air as Bill Donoghue, aka Chief Bottle Washer, took to the stage and officially opened our 2017 user conference.
Bill was inspiring as he spoke of all that Skillsoft and SumTotal have accomplished in the past 12 months. We have, he believes, made good on the promises he made at last year’s conference. We have delivered and made both Skillsoft and SumTotal “essential and worthy” to all our customers.
With beautiful technology and engaging content.
He unveiled Percipio, our new state-of-the-art learning platform, discussed SumTotal’s 17.1 enhancements which makes it the first, and only, fully integrated Learn, Talent, and Workforce suite in the industry and shone a spotlight on the new SumTotal roadmap: Develop, Lead, Achieve.
To give everyone a hint of what else is to come, he demonstrated how technology, and VR in particular, will soon make learning a very personal affair. He introduced us to DARLA (Digital Augmented Reality Learning Assistant) and together, they gave us a glimpse into the future of learning.
Then the energy tornado that is Jason Dorsey took to the stage to talk about the myths about millennials. We’re in Vegas, the entertainment capital of the world some say, so he was entertaining and his presentation on millennials was up there with any of the local offerings. He had us all in the palm of his hand as he dished the dirt on millennials, and was aptly rewarded with a standing ovation.
His honesty, humor, and research make him one to watch.
He was followed by our Technology Showcase led by AP, our CTO, and Potoula Chresomales, SVP of product management at Skillsoft and Bill Docherty, SVP, product management at SumTotal. AP walked everyone through the all changes, enhancements and what is planned for the future for both Skillsoft and SumTotal products. He then finished with another glimpse into the future of learning and talent with our innovation trailers.
“Progress is greater than perfection” is as Rahul Varma told us, Accenture’s mantra; a philosophy that has served them well over the last 12 months as they moved away from traditional performance reviews to a more instant and frequent feedback model. He also spoke about Accenture Learning, their L&D efforts that ensure that not only are their employees prepared for the today’s workforce, they also have the skills for the jobs of the future.
With his sharp frames and retro look Mark Onisk, general manager and vice president, Skillsoft Books, is the perfect candidate to remind us that while books are a little dusty and old fashioned, they are in fact the preferred learning source especially when the outcome is deemed important. He also revealed that Books 24x7 will now be known as simply Skillsoft Books and to go along with the name change, users can expect some more new enhancements – everything from an increase in the number of titles available, a new summary format that will be more visual to titles from self-authors and boutique publishers.
Stephanie Dale from Florida Blue was next on stage. Her presentation was the story of the massive overhaul of office systems, performance management processes and L&D at Florida Blue. A transformation that began with a change in mindset and has ended with greater engagement between mangers and teams.
As Mohammed Ajouz, SVP, Global Customer Service & Delivery, said the very fact that customer support was even on the main stage demonstrates Skillsoft and Sum Total’s commitment to excellent customer service, or as he sees it – “beautiful technology deserves a beautiful support experience.” He outlined the many ways we are taking every measure conceivable to achieve this which will in time include a new Support App.
Then it was my turn. I showed Bill’s slide from last year when he talked about the new Business Skills and Leadership. Then I talked about the plans for this year, new Business Skills, Leadership, IT, and Compliance content that have a completely new look and feel and seem to some more like ‘episodes’ from their favorite TV shows than training material. These videos use actors and real world examples to teach, and all are accessible to all. I finished with a new clip from our Compliance training which showcased our new transgender actress.
After me it was awards season – more on that in another post.
And then finally…lunch.
Tara O’Sullivan is the Chief Creative Officer at Skillsoft.