Jim Finlaw
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Jonathan Zaback
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November 15, 2004
Learning Organizations Challenged to Prove Business Impact, Yet Few Do, Accenture Survey Finds

Report Also Identifies Capabilities of the High-Performance Learning Organization

NEW YORK; Nov. 15, 2004 – While the biggest challenge for chief learning officers is to prove the business impact of their learning organizations to senior management, only a small number of learning organizations are delivering measurable value in terms of productivity gains, revenue growth, net income growth and overall industry recognition, according to a report released today by Accenture.

The report, based on the results of a survey of learning executives at 285 cross-industry organizations, was sponsored by Accenture Learning, an Accenture business that provides outsourced learning solutions to government and corporate enterprises.

According to the report, while chief learning officers (CLOs) are increasingly being measured in terms of the business impact of their learning organizations, they are not doing so in terms that can be translated into meaningful business metrics, such as increased revenues or decreased employee turnover and costs. Also, the findings show that only 2 percent of respondents are measured on how successfully they align the learning function to corporate strategic goals.

However, the report identified a small number of learning organizations that are providing measurable business impact to their companies by excelling at certain key capabilities. The seven capabilities identified are: aligning learning initiatives to business goals; measuring overall business impact of the learning function; extending learning to customers, suppliers and business partners; supporting their organizations’ most critical competencies and jobs; integrating learning with functions such as knowledge and talent management; using technology to deliver learning; and delivering leadership development courses.

According to the report, these high-performance organizations, representing approximately 10 percent of the organizations surveyed, exceeded their peers in productivity (as measured by sales per employee), which was 27 percent greater than their competitors’, revenue growth (40 percent higher) and net income growth (50 percent higher).

“These high-performance learning organizations contribute to the overall performance of their enterprises, finding distinctive ways to do more with less and ensuring that those in control of budgets understand the value that their learning organization is producing,” said Hap Brakeley, president of Accenture Learning. “Learning leaders have moved beyond just being more efficient, or just doing training better. They understand that they can help their enterprises dramatically improve overall performance.”

In addition, the report explains that these leading organizations:

  • Manage the learning department as a business, aligned to the organization’s business goals. The vast majority (88 percent) of the leaders identified “the business of the company” as a critical competency for learning executives, compared with 72 percent of other respondents. Eighty-five percent of the leaders manage their budgets to plan, compared with 69 percent of other respondents, and almost all the leaders (92 percent) are responsible for increasing access to learning and reducing costs, compared with only 57 percent of other respondents.

  • Measure the business impact of learning. The vast majority (88 percent) of the leaders identified “the business of the company” as a critical competency for learning executives, compared with 72 percent of other respondents. Eighty-five percent of the leaders manage their budgets to plan, compared with 69 percent of other respondents, and almost all the leaders (92 percent) are responsible for increasing access to learning and reducing costs, compared with only 57 percent of other respondents.

Methodology
To understand what constitutes a best-of-breed learning organization, The Gantry Group, LLC, on behalf of Accenture, conducted an online study with 285 organizations over a nine-week period in 2004. Respondents represented eight industry segments: finance/insurance, health & life sciences, manufacturing, technology, resources, government, professional services and retail. The respondents were predominately based in the U.S. and represented a range of titles/levels including chief learning officer; vice president, HR; and dir. of training & development.

About Accenture
Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company. Committed to delivering innovation, Accenture collaborates with its clients to help them become high-performance businesses and governments. With deep industry and business process expertise, broad global resources and a proven track record, Accenture can mobilize the right people, skills and technologies to help clients improve their performance. With more than 100,000 people in 48 countries, the company generated net revenues of US$13.67 billion for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, 2004. Its home page is www.accenture.com.

About Accenture Learning
Accenture Learning collaborates with its clients to help them significantly improve business and operational performance by unleashing the value of their workforces, channel partners and customers. Delivering training to more than one million learners globally each year, Accenture Learning is one of the largest learning services providers in the world. Providing a full range of global learning services—from content development to comprehensive outsourcing of the learning function—Accenture Learning helps clients establish a clear and ongoing link between learning investments and business results. Leveraging deep industry knowledge and proven delivery capabilities Accenture Learning is uniquely positioned to help organizations convert their learning investments into high performance. More information is available at www.accenture.com/learning.

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