But in today's global business space and the rise in enterprise resource solutions, companies have greater opportunity to work across borders, using all systems available within the 'cloud' of consolidated training and talent management systems.
Delivery of an integrated, unified talent management system that is consistent across the board is the key to achieving both short-term and long-term talent mobility goals within an organisation. No longer can one section of an organisation operate in a silo. One unified language learning system, where all staff can log on wherever, whenever, is also becoming an increasingly vital component of multinational organisations' entire talent management strategy.
Most companies assume language skills are much higher, however when the unified tests are conducted there is a large gap between the assumed skill level, and the actual level of communications skills. Once the standardised system is in place, the measurability of skills becomes far more accurate, and the results more visible.
One seamless, standardised blended learning system can be an invaluable solution to managing business continuity and can unlock enormous potential for an organisation's talent succession strategy and workforce mobility. With a streamlined, blended learning approach, management will be able to identify the current profile of employees within the organisation, identify their language skills and determine the potential successors for different job roles. This can then be matched to where vacancies might occur, address which areas suffer from a scarcity of talent and provide solutions to job roles that tend to be difficult to fill across the board. For example, a skilled employee with a solid grasp of English working with a subsidiary in France may be transferred to fill a temporary or long term skill gap in a UK subsidiary.
The future trend in social media and mobile learning technology means exciting potential to create a more agile and dynamic learning culture. In China for example, tablets are rapidly growing in popularity, which means students may no longer be tied to one particular learning space. This has the potential to change everything we currently perceive as how and when learning can be achieved.
The 2011 Towards Maturity Benchmark Survey entitled 'Boosting Business Agility' indicates organisations certainly want technology to encourage interaction and many have already been experimenting with different forms of social media for some time now, with some tools starting to become established. The survey revealed 46 per cent of organisations questioned are using communities of practice to connect like-minded people together, while 54 per cent are harnessing existing enterprise-wide information platforms to provide a point of focus for sharing.
Despite social and informal learning becoming the way forward, it is important to not lose sight of the fact that communication skills training and development is a long-term commitment, unlike short-term skills such as compliance training. Unless we adopt real technical standards for social and mobile learning that involves a consistent communication process, the potential of harnessing its benefits will be greatly underutilised. The key to learning success is to integrate new technologies, social and informal learning as part of a holistic or perfect blend, adding to the learning space and enhancing the deliverability and quality of current content.
International mobility within an organisation means knowing how to communicate. Employees need to know how to communicate in a language that is not just grammatically correct but is well-pronounced, understood clearly, and delivered with the correct diction. This can be achieved through tools that combine virtual classrooms, mobile learning and e-learning - and more importantly customised to suit staff learning needs and level of skill.
The evolution of talent management is rapid and organisations need to keep on top of the changes to meet the demands and expectations of the global workplace. While automation and streamlining of business processes is essential, it is important not to lose sight of businesses as consisting of people with individual skills and talent that needs to be nurtured and developed.
Armin Hopp is the founder rand president of Speexx, the provider of online corporate language training