THE BLOG
07/09/2010 12:01 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Virtual Training Goes Mainstream

Virtual training appears to be going mainstream, replacing the traditional methods of training employees, management and executives of organizations. While the cost savings is one reason, companies are suggesting their move to virtual training is due to issues like; handling the attention deficit generation, using interactive engagement to more successfully transfer skills, ability to access information 24/7 and access to solutions in real time to solve problems and increase productivity. Many of these things are not offered with traditional training methods.

The challenges of today's workforce training and technological developments are causing more and more companies to look to new forms of training like e-learning and interactive-web based solutions. Each of these terms describes virtual training whereby the employee does not have to leave his business to engage in training, instead accessing it via computer. Virtual training has the prospect of greater interaction, two-way communication, full accountability, testing and allows for 24/7 accessibility.

Finding innovative ways to transfer knowledge and skills is a generational issue and an economic challenge critical to a company's survival.

For 22 years I have explored innovative ways to deliver the best practices and processes to companies in order to improve productivity per employee. The limitations of all training companies are limited by the inability to be available 24/7, handle attention difficulties, get interactive participation due to generational barriers and ensure long-term use of new skills.

Ultimately how the employee solves real world challenges is the measure of how effective a company's training is or is not.

We recently surveyed thousands of individuals utilizing virtual training to see how this new way of training compared to traditional methods. The benefits communicated were;

- no longer miss clients
- no travel required
- able to train at my computer
- able to train in my own time
- able to avoid asking embarrassing question in front of peers

Surprisingly enough and without inquiring there were also rumblings that while the virtual training was an improvement the content was outdated, not relevant, too long, too informational, not solution-oriented and the presenter was difficult to listen to.

Employees of a major accounting firm related to being required to watch 45 minute segments of training content online that was no longer relevant and felt more like punishment than an education.

Using the survey results we set out to build virtual training programs that included short, concise relevant segments and then combined the training with solutions for solving problems when the training was over. The key was to demonstrate how the information makes the user's jobs easier, his/her position more productive and all the while positively influencing their personal life.

From Fortune 100 companies like Microsoft, accounting giant Ernst & Young, retail companies like JC Penny and Macy's, most if not all the automotive manufacturers and even independently owned small businesses are currently adopting virtual training as a way to reduce training cost, transfer skills and disseminate information. The National Auto Dealers Association announced it is utilizing the benefits of virtual training to disseminate training and solutions to their 15,000 members.

The keys to building a successful virtual training program and ensuring usage:
1) Short Segments 3-5 minutes in length validated with testing
2) Current relevant content that solves the challenges of the current scene
3) Presenter must be respected, believable and likable by the user
4) Access to solutions in real time
5) Automated accountability

Connecting innovative solutions with real-world challenges, making training interactive, interesting and creating a delivery system for relevant information is what virtual training is all about. The bottom line - virtual training increases productivity, is a cost effective way and is available 24/7 when the client needs it to improve the skill sets of employees, solve problems and...improve the bottom line.

Grant Cardone, New York Times Best Selling Author, If You're Not First, You're Last.