Anil Vijayan, Partner at Everest Group in conversation with Rich Bores, Leader of Sentry University at Sentry Insurance, explores how learning is a continuous process in an organization; and how you can identify executives to buy into this.

Prior to the pandemic, many of us in the industry viewed technology as an optional modality, a different method of delivering and engaging, but not always as something that was fundamental to what we did. And I believe that has altered and brought about a significant transformation in how our learners, stakeholders, and learning organizations now view the future. And what’s wonderful is that I believe people will come to appreciate the kind of experiences and learner engagement solutions that we will be able to produce more deeply. Thinking back to our team at Sentry University before the pandemic, we were incredibly proud of our learning ecosystem.

The Sentry Learning System

Prior to the pandemic, just 11% of learning material produced was presented entirely in a classroom; the remaining 89% was either blended or entirely provided through technology. So, we believed we were in a really good position to turn around and change course when the pandemic hit. And we succeeded in doing it really well. But during this shift, there are a lot of learnings to take in.

We learned a lot from that, and our students responded favorably to the change. I hope that the entire industry is experiencing this significant transformation since it has been a huge one. The second thing that interests me personally is, that I have over 30 years of expertise in the field and in the late 1980s and early 1990s when it all started. Performance support was kind of a part of our history, as was learning while doing the work. Many of you may be familiar with Gloria Geary or Conrad Gottfredson and the five moments of need.  So when I look at technology, like Whatfix, and what they can provide to our learners and our ability to give them what they need at that moment that’s just an exciting time for the industry from that perspective.

In actuality, we modeled what we now refer to as J3, Just in time, Just for me, Just enough, back when we first started performance support, and that term has stayed. I’m really happy about Sentry’s collaboration with Whatfix, and I’m looking forward because the features they’re now offering, where this is going to go in the future with what we can do with data analytics, understanding our learners, understanding our tools and workflows, and truly being able to prescribe and target particular types of learning solutions to these groups as needed.

How did Sentry come up with the DAP?

The way Sentry thinks about learning is the DAP capability from a learning perspective is core to our learning strategy. The capability to be able to pivot and embed, and provide on-demand needs. The five moments of need are at the heart of what we do if we think about them. Therefore, as we considered DAP and performance support, achieving that goal was a logical component.

Sentry’s Technology Adoption

Since there was no centralized learning organization to oversee it, it had mostly been implemented by our technology partners rather than the learning organization. And that effort essentially failed. Not a failure, I say. But it didn’t consider how to meet users and learners where they were at in terms of need. Therefore, the concept of learner-centric modalities and models played a crucial role in making this happen. A technology like DAP puts the learner at the center of everything we do. Your LMS, your eLearning authoring tools, and a DAP type capabilities are all important to providing that necessary overarching experience to our learners, so one of my optimistic pieces of advice that I might provide to other people entering into this as a newbie is. We share a lot of similarities with the other organizations, our sales, operations, call centers, and claims underwriting teams are our main target audiences. Since 2010, we have made significant investments in our technological infrastructure and have essentially centralized all of our apps. Therefore, what you discover is a core collection of programs being utilized by numerous organizations and user communities. As a result, we are discovering that underwriters use the exact same program as a salesperson.

Learning Culture at Sentry

When you talk about our learning culture at Sentry University, we have a very formal learning governance approach. Our team includes a group of learning leaders. Additionally, each of the six learning leaders is working on assignments for other organizations. And every four to eight weeks, we have steering committee meetings with each of those organizations to review and design their learning portfolios. As a result, we have a built-in mechanism within our learning ecosystem and learning culture where we are always in dialogue with our senior-most stakeholders, and their direct report teams. I believe that an effective learning organization, or even an IT organization, is a crucial partner in this. Perhaps your IT organizations have a governance model, which I would assume is classic IT governance, which is what our system and model were based on. Consider collaborating with them to evangelize and promote this.

What Digital Adoption Solutions can offer?

The qualitative advantages are ones that are actually gaining greater recognition within the organization among our associates and business partners. With our first two applications with Whatfix, our learning design developers claim to have saved 40 percent on the number of solutions they had to create for our audiences and some of our commercial lines.

What Digital Adoption Solutions can offer?

And when we convert that to $1, we quickly get close to the million dollars and that figure truly accounts for our development time, our Support Center savings, and all of the query savings from the access count that peaked at 40,000 inquiries when we had only two applications. Our organization has a total of 4000 members. And while we have decreased the amount of time spent in the formal New Hire learning sessions, those two systems likely only had an impact on 2000 of those FTE or associates in terms of qualitative factors that we don’t particularly have substantial data around at the moment. And this has given our recently hired workers more time working directly on the floor

There, we have observed things such as, you know, increased customer attractiveness and retention, you know, again, assistance with customer onboarding, enhanced application adoption rate, and so forth. These are some of the advantages that we observe with customer applications. DAP installations are Sentry’s top recommendation for businesses wishing to scale up or just dangle their toes in the water.

Of course, you might not want to do it on a large scale at first; instead, you could want to determine where you have that particular opportunity. Consider this a change project rather than merely a learning initiative as you work to implement for a successful implementation. When we look at learner experience platforms and Talent Management Tools, they obviously bake all of that in. However, I believe the kinds of performance-based insight we’re going to achieve through a tool like DAP is going to be a game-changer for the learning industry moving forward.

Richard bores is an L&D veteran and leader. Rich was a Founder and former leader of Sentry University. Rich is recognized as an innovative and high-impact learning leader credited with the building, evolving and leading best-in-class L&D organizations that have been consistently successful in achieving objectives while driving improved organizational performance and results.