This article tells Why it is important to keep learning in business. Learning involves the acquisition of knowledge and skills through experience, and the ability to adapt to novel situations. Given the importance of successful adaptation to business development, the importance of learning in business should be self evident. The market in which companies operate is not static but constantly evolving, and it is critically important that learning in business also remains a continuous process that evolves with the demands of consumers, and the threat of competitors.
Even for established market leaders, the importance of learning and development in business should not be underestimated; in recent years, several industries have been thrown into crisis as a result of inadequate adaptation to new conditions in the market, perhaps most notably the music and print media industries. A recent report in The Economist magazine states that newspaper readership fell by 15.9% in the UK from 2005-2009, as readers have increasingly obtained news from online sources which the print media industry has thus far failed to monetise.
Similarly in the music industry, a 2010 BBC News report explained that whilst album sales continued to fall, download sales had increased by 56.1%. Attempts to impede the rise of online downloads were always doomed to fail, however, by the time this was realised the music industry already had new market leaders; use of iTunes, for example, grew by 241% in 2005. The ability to predict and adapt to market changes is essential to growth in business, and what these two industries have in common is that both failed to do this adequately in the face of changing demands of consumers and the increased threat from competition.
However, it is not just at the macro-level that learning in business is essential to continued business development and success. Organisations that aspire to sustain business development must seek to maximise productivity and efficiency, which can only be achieved by maximising the potential of their employees; personal development of employees is therefore vital to maintaining growth in business. Companies can aid the personal development of their employees both through formal training and furthermore through creating a corporate culture in which individuals are encouraged to develop and share ideas, and self teach.
Indeed, senior executives will often not have detailed knowledge of the individual contributions of every employee, so it is important team leaders and department managers are also working to encourage open communication and personal development amongst their staff. More productive organisations with benefit from increased output, higher retention of talented employees and should ultimately be better equipped to adapt to changes in the market and capitalise on them.
Now, more than ever, learning and development in business is a real possibility for both companies and individuals. The internet has increasingly democratised information, and expert research and analysis is available on just about any specialist subject at minimal cost. Whilst expert consultancy in a range of fields can be of valuable assistance to businesses, the increasingly open access to information online provides employees with the opportunity to self teach, aiding both their personal development and the development of their company.
As well as increasing opportunities to self teach, the internet has also proved a powerful tool for development in business through the increased opportunities to conduct market research. The strong web presence of many companies provides with a simple and cost effective opportunity to conduct customer satisfaction surveys with web page visitors or subscribers, and the use of social media allows companies to maintain close contact with their customers, and be more responsive to their needs. Companies, like individuals, also have increasing access to expert research and analysis in their specialist market area; this provides a fantastic opportunity for learning and growth in business for those who are prepared to maximise this resource.
The importance of learning for business development lies in the dynamic and ever evolving nature of the consumer market; successful companies not only meet the demands of consumers, but anticipate how they will evolve.