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Bringing Social Learning to Retailers: An Interview with First Friday

As a business, Learning Pool (formerly HT2 Labs)  invest time and expertise into developing learning technologies that both we and others can use to create better learning experience. We also partner with organisations in order to harness the power of our solutions and their specialist sector or industry knowledge.

One such partner is First Friday and together we created a new digital learning and social collaboration platform built specifically with retailers in mind – which we launched earlier in the year at Learning Technologies Show.

6-months post-launch and Kaboodle is starting to make some big waves in the retail sector, so we caught up with First Friday’s Head of Digital Learning, Sally Taylor, to find out more about how it came into being…

Kaboodle: Digital Learning & Comms Platform for Retail

First up, who are First Friday (for those that don’t already know)?

First Friday is a consulting, change management and training business with its roots in retail. We have a portfolio of 100+ clients across the UK, Europe, South Africa and the US. Everyone at First Friday is a retailer by trade. Not only have we worked at senior levels in retail in the past, but we work with world class retailers every day. It’s simply in our blood. We understand that what counts in retail is passion, flexibility and pace.

Organisations have to keep changing to stay on top. But no matter how thorough the restructure, how sophisticated the system or how robust the growth strategy, it is the people inside the organisation that will determine its success or failure. We equip people with the best skills for their job, whether it’s learning to work with a new system or developing future retail leaders.

What do you see as the biggest L&D challenges within the Retail sector today?

With a distributed workforce, it is difficult for retailers to keep everyone up-to-date with new products, ways of working, unfolding issues and new business processes. Completion of learning often doesn’t happen due to a lack of engagement, involvement or motivation. LMS systems can be difficult to use, time consuming to update and hold out of date content.

How does Kaboodle support organisations in meeting these challenges?

is a unique digital social learning and communications platform with gamification, reference, support, LMS and product all in one place. It has been built by learning & change management experts from the bottom-up allowing an organisation to capture, transform, share and engage their communities by integrating quickly and seamlessly with new or legacy systems.  More importantly – it’s not technology for technology’s sake; it’s a well researched and well thought-out platform which will combat businesses real pain points.

The affordable pricing framework, coupled with quick integration and implementation means it’s very cost effective for our customers to deploy.  With Kaboodle you are buying into the constant evolution of our product; receiving regular updates whilst continually keeping the platform fresh and in line with the very latest social learning and gamification marketplace initiatives.

When learning and communication is effective, it drives business results, empowers people and improves the customer experience. Done right, it leads to continual performance improvement, engages employees and aligns culture. Strong engagement with your learners promotes participation and fires imaginations. Technology has shifted hugely in learning & development and communication towards social experiences and collaboration, opening up feedback channels instead of using top-down, push applications.

Realistic content and communication is delivered via effective techniques such as social, feedback, sharing, commenting, discussing, liking and voting. We coupled this with being able to provide dynamic leaderboards, experience points, badges, leveling up through knowledge gateways and bingo, you have the most powerful learning and communications solution available.

What was it that make you chose Learning Pool Platform as a starting point?

Learning Pool Platform is the award-winning social learning platform from Learning Pool (formerly HT2 Labs), our partners who are experts in online learning and software engineering. They use their skills everyday to research and develop industry-leading products, helping blue chip organisations to get more from their learning investments. In addition to Learning Pool Platform we also saw massive potential in Learning Pool Learning Record Store which is an open source learning record store (LRS).

Data is your evidence. Today’s businesses need evidence and you can’t bluff your way through proving value; the efficiency of social learning can be proven, but only with the right data.  Learning Locker handles data in a truly unique way allowing businesses to pull all their most important date into one place.

As we continue to grow Kaboodle, I believe in deploying a ‘best of breed’ approach whereby we partner with the best software providers in the marketplace to improve the core functionality.  Working with our partner Learning Pool (formerly HT2 Labs)  has been hugely inspiring, we believe there is no company better when it comes to social learning and we are extremely excited to be on this journey with them. The social and gamification features which are built into Kaboodle are what makes the platform so unique.

Learning Pool’s (formerly HT2 Labs) team can often be found trotting around the globe delivering speeches at major learning events and conferences.  We want to continue to work with them to share in that knowledge, not only passing it onto our customers, but constantly adding all the latest ideas and technologies into Kaboodle.

What kind of response have you had to Kaboodle so far?

Following the launch of Kaboodle at Learning Technologies in February 2016 the response has been fantastic. We have had lots of interest from all kinds of organisations, not just in retail.  From Tier 1 fashion retailers and department stores, to food & restaurant, and in particular large hotel chains. Kaboodle is for any type and size of business that is looking to improve performance by accomplishing lasting behavioural change.

In particular the response from businesses using the ‘old-fashioned’ LMS has been remarkable.  We all know LMS’s can push out content, but they are mostly unbranded, clunky and cost the earth.  Employees don’t react well to consuming mandatory content through repellent interfaces with no feedback loops.  Businesses can clearly see that Kaboodle is a SaaS based solution which manages individual or group learning in a unique social way – opening up the lines of communication to dialogue not dictatorship.

What would you say to retailers currently considering their learning solution options?

Business growth depends on learning & communication. If you want to promote ongoing participation and collaboration for any learning content or indeed any type of information that needs deploying into your business, and you want to do is it quickly and cost effectively whilst integrating seamlessly with new or legacy systems – then Kaboodle is for you.

Think about this for a second: a unique social learning and gamification platform with the ability to communicate both ways to a distributed workforce in multiple languages.  With just the right amount of LMS – branded to suit your needs – plus clever intranet capability with read evidence: it almost sounds too good to be true.  Add in managing reference material centrally whilst empowering all your staff on the products and services they sell and being able to place all of this at the fingertips of every employee.  With all of this in one place – you can’t really go wrong – can you?

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