Toolkit: Axonify Update – by Joe Ganci

What a difference just over two years makes! So much has changed since I last evaluated Axonify in August 2016 that it’s time to revisit this platform.

Axonify is all about “microlearning”

When the term microlearning was first bandied about a few years ago, I wasn’t sure I was sold on the idea of making our lessons ever shorter. I joked that I was going to invent nanolearning: learn it in six seconds or less! However, I’ve since come to be sold on the idea that in many instances, shorter lessons are exactly what is needed. While Axonify already promoted the idea of shorter lessons, its features now focus much more on the concept of ensuring lessons get to the point without a lot of fluff. Axonify today is all about microlearning approaches.

Although the industry hasn’t landed on a standard definition of microlearning—some still think it’s simply chopping up 30-minute video into five shorter ones—I think Axonify has the right approach because delivering content in short, focused bites is only one small piece of the equation. To be effective, microlearning must fit naturally into the daily workflow. Employees need to participate voluntarily. Consideration of how people learn (brain science) should be included, and the learning should adapt continually to individuals to help them perform in ways that matter to the business.

While all this may be true, microlearning, and more specifically Axonify’s microlearning platform, may not be for everyone, and Axonify, I’m happy to say, doesn’t try to make it seem that it should be.

It’s all about the performance of the frontline worker

Axonify is focused on empowering frontline employees—like retail associates, drivers and dock workers, plant workers, sales reps and call center employees—to remember to do the right things at the right moment to keep the business moving in the right direction.

Why has Axonify chosen to focus on the frontline? Since frontline employees don’t sit at a desk all day, they are hard to reach with traditional learning technologies, tools, and approaches. Axonify has built its microlearning platform to help frontline employees get up to speed faster, stay connected to the business, and remember to do the things that matter most, every day.

A platform founded on AI

Another interesting thing I learned is that the Axonify platform has artificial intelligence embedded throughout the entire experience. Their platform was built on a foundation of AI from the very beginning, about seven years ago. AI features are built in to their adaptive learning engine and ROI measurement capability. There’s also much more AI-fueled functionality coming.

I have to say that the Axonify daily training experience and the insights on the back end are very nice. This short video explains the approach. Here’s my summary of the core components that make up the Axonify microlearning platform:

  • Continuous reinforcement using cognitive psychology: The platform continually reminds employees of the top things they need to know, using focused, bite-sized bursts of information and other techniques to make learning memorable (spaced repetition, retrieval practice and confidence-based assessment). It all happens in just 3-5 minutes a day, so employees don’t feel overwhelmed with content.
  • AI-powered adaptive learning engine: Axonify continuously measures what each employee knows and doesn’t know, along with how confident the employee is in applying that knowledge on the job. Then the AI-based adaptive training engine fills their individual knowledge gaps with the digestible bits of personalized information they need to perform in a way that best supports business priorities.
  • Gamification and game mechanics: No technology will change the behavior of employees if they don’t like using it. Axonify weaves in user motivation tools including casual game play (50+ games), rewards, and other creative techniques that tap directly into the innate desire to self-challenge, meet goals, and win. This hooks employees into the platform again and again—and they have the numbers to prove it. Across their user base, 74 percent of employees use Axonify 2-3 times in a typical work week. See Figure 1.

Axonify dashboardFigure 1: Axonify mobile, casual game play and administrator reports dashboard

  • ROI measurement: In 2018, Axonify introduced what it refers to as a “learning attribution engine.” It leverages AI and the power of the big data they capture on an employee as he or she progresses through daily training to show how the platform is driving the business metrics that are a priority for business leaders. For example, it can provide analytics on a safety key performance indicator like reducing box cutter incidents and related time off work. The platform provides a real-time view into the ROI of every training program, but then takes it even further to surface opportunities for improvement to administrators and managers. See Figure 2.

Axonify analyticsFigure 2: Axonify ROI and business impact analytics

  • Smart onthe-job performance support: The platform also includes an intuitive performance support add-on called Axonify Discover that enables organizations to crowd-source critical resources and job aids from company subject matter experts, and serves them up through an intelligent search interface in seconds.
  • On-demand microlearning content: Axonify has also introduced a marketplace for content. Now, in addition to the platform’s built-in tools and services to help administrators create microlearning content, there’s a library of literally thousands of topics on virtually any business challenge, designed specifically to the Axonify platform’s spec. It’s plug-and-play with the rest of the platform, so it all works very well.

Final thoughts

Axonify has done great work defining the microlearning category, and is continually innovating with ROI measurement and their pioneering use of AI as an embedded technology. This is a company that knows its strengths, is focused on the frontline employee, and is poised for continued success. I look forward to what they will accomplish next.

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