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What does ‘digital’ look like for global pharma Learning & Development?

We are a multi-device nation! And whilst I have fond memories of handwritten degree assignments, I do embrace the benefits that technology can bring – professionally, socially, and developmentally. Yet, the fact that I cannot find an agreed definition of ‘digital learning’ highlights the complexities of this swiftly evolving area. Throw into the mix a rigid regulatory environment, global market variations, and diverse cultures, and it becomes difficult to envisage what ‘digital’ looks like for global pharma Learning & Development (L&D).

A quick straw poll of my peers highlighted the inconsistency in perceptions of digital – it seems to encompass everything from content delivered via an electronic device through to sophisticated, responsive technology that users immerse themselves in. Digital learning incorporates effective use of technology to strengthen and enhance the learning experience to improve the learning outcome.

True digital offers sophisticated learning experiences, personalised learning journeys, and instant feedback. Digital is strong when it facilitates delivery and tracking for a blend of learning interventions and offers a repository of learning wealth and record keeping.

Unfortunately, four main challenges for global pharma L&D constrain the development of truly digital solutions:

  • The need to localise globally-developed materials
  • Inconsistency of software and learning management systems
  • Differing levels of digital maturity
  • Variability in environment and resources across markets

Many of these challenges are beyond our influence, but as learning consultants we can work within these constraints and be innovative in our solutions, pushing the boundaries of available software and corporate challenges. Creating a blend of interventions that utilise the benefits of digital in a pragmatic, scalable way helps our clients take valuable steps in embracing digital within their organisations.

Providing solutions that play to markets’ digital maturity and local situations is one of the best ways we can support our clients’ digital aspirations. Many of our learning materials could be delivered impactfully as on-trend solutions – such as augmented or virtual reality – but less technologically-advanced solutions offer the same learning outcomes, in a more cost-effective, easily adaptable way. This requires us to think harder, be even more creative, and become “pragmatic innovators”.

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