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Merrill Lynch: Bullish on Mobile Learning
Many employees at Merrill Lynch are working long hours outside of the office. Because of these circumstances, the company has turned to mobile modalities to deliver learning.
As with many financial firms, many employees at Merrill Lynch are working long hours outside of the office. Because of these circumstances, the company has turned to mobile modalities to deliver learning that’s short, accessible and relevant.
Like many organizations, employees at Merrill Lynch struggle to find time for training. People are too busy doing their jobs to keep up with continuing development. While live, instructor-led training is highly valued, getting 60,000 people from three different business units in 38 countries in the classroom on a regular basis is difficult.
On the plus side, Merrill’s catalog of online training is robust, and the learning management system is the second-most visited site on the corporate intranet. However, people often do not finish the online training they start due to the everyday distraction of e-mails, conference calls and impromptu meetings. As Managing Director Joe Casey, head of global markets, investment banking leadership and talent management, points out, “We are in a highly competitive, fast-paced business with key employees constantly on the go with our clients. Our learning and development strategies must be closely aligned with our business and need to solve for the realities of our operating environment and how our people work — often remotely and when they’re pressed for time.”
In response to this growing need for remote business applications, the company started to explore the delivery of training over the BlackBerry. During the fall of 2006, Merrill Lynch developed the business case for this new delivery medium for training, and mobile learning at Merrill Lynch was born. At the time, there was a lot of hype and research about m-learning, and everyone was dipping a toe into the big pond of podcasting. Yet, everything available seemed to sacrifice some component of learning. Smaller device screens meant condensing content; limited and spotty bandwidth meant using text only; infinite types of phones meant support and development headaches; podcasting audio meant low retention levels; SCORM and LMS integration meant complex technical development; and the list went on.
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