Archive for September, 2012

In my former life, I was a bit of trade show junkie. Having worked for retail companies the Autumn/Winter round of shows, exhibitions, and supplier meetings started in August and finished in September culminating in the glamour of London Fashion Week! This season things are slightly different. Firstly I’m on the “other side” – selling rather then buying and secondly I’m not discussing hem lines or the ecology of bamboo as a material, but whether mobile technology has been harnessed effectively by the learning and development community.

Saffron developed The Bribery Act Challenge last year – a revolution not just in terms of technology but also in terms of approach to learning. We invited Learning Live delegates to take up the challenge and experience the next big thing (to use a fashion term) first hand. So overwhelmed were we by the response, we had to go and buy another tablet the next day – two were simply not enough for everyone who was interested.

For a while now Saffron has been developing solutions that operate cross-platform – it’s our standard because we believe in future-proofing as much as we possibly can. Yes, some large scale businesses are challenged by almost obsolete hardware, and software that harks back to the good ol’ days, but we think that’s all about to change – and this change will not necessarily be attributed to a computer company that has a fruit in it’s name. This autumn, Windows 8 will be unleashed on the world and this new focus by the world’s biggest software producer to industry will have a dramatic effect on how people use technology in their everyday working lives. Designed specifically for mobile devices Windows 8 along with rising numbers of tablets and smart-phones in circulation means that the way an individual physically interacts with their computer has changed. Sliding your finger rather then moving your mouse, pinching images rather then clicking to enlarge – user interaction with hardware has become somewhat more engaging.

Imagine a learning solution that uses this advance in technology and combines it with a “serious gaming” approach to instructional design. Each and every one of us has that little bit of competition in us – after all ultimately we all like to win – win what, is your decision. The Bribery Act Challenge immerses the learner in a familiar office scenario, guiding them through a series of questions and answers, trials and tribulations, awarding points for correct behaviours and deducting if the decisions weren’t quite right. As the story unfolds the learner is forced to make decisions and more importantly live with the consequences of their decisions. What this results in is a two-fold immersive environment – first the telling of a familiar storyline, dealing with the consequences of decisions and being rewarded for making the right decisions, and secondly harnessing the tactile nature of mobile technology to physically involve the learner too. The third factor, in the case of The Bribery Act challenge is the rich illustrations in the course. Our characters are from the modern day, hand-illustrated so that they’re a little familiar and with perhaps just that little bit of tongue-in-cheek.

There have been some similarities for me this week however. The first are the venues – historically around this time of year I’ve been ensconced at Somerset House admiring the inimitable street-style of British fashion. This year I stood within the gaze of St Paul’s and met an eclectic group of people who powerhouse the development of some of the country’s (and the world’s) biggest organizations. Both groups of people are leaders in their own fields and can influence some real changes in behaviour. The difference is that now I’m not looking at products available only next year – Saffron’s learning technology solutions are available to you now.

If you think you’re up to The Bribery Act Challenge, or tried it at Learning Live and would just like to improve your score – drop us a line and we’ll organise to meet with you. Or, if you’d like to set yourself ahead of the rest and want to discuss how either cross-platform technology or serious gaming learning approaches can add value to your business, please form an orderly queue.

Joining the Saffron Interactive team last week, I’ve quickly come to appreciate the significance of an issue that I’ve known has existed for many years concerning the use of learning technology.

I remember well how our classroom-style training sessions, during my time working for Orange, went. The instructor would tell you how to use a piece of software and we would use (often unreliable) dummy systems to put his or her instructions into action. The experience always reminded me of being at school, when a learned teacher would attempt to pass on his or her knowledge onto a classroom full of unenthusiastic pupils. You’d think that such a hi-tech mobile telecommunications company would be keen to implement learning technology solutions at every opportunity when they have been proven to improve performance, yet they were reluctant to take advantage of some of the most exciting developments in the field. Why was this the case?

Like most other businesses, Orange’s Learning & Development department was relegated to a secondary function within the organisation. Even while the company was experiencing rapid growth, investment in new learning technologies seemed lacklustre and insufficient from the employee’s perspective. Yet it was during my time on the frontline of technological innovation there between 2003 and 2008 that I came to appreciate the exciting opportunities that 21st century advances in telecommunications technology were bringing; the rapid evolution of mobile telecommunications throughout the last decade, from ‘dumb’ phones with monochromatic screens and no cameras to modern smartphones with touchscreens and full internet capabilities, is indicative of what is to come as the internet becomes ever more ubiquitous, and people become more connected, than ever before. Consider that it took radio 38 years, but the internet only four years, to reach 50 million users. Facebook added 100 million users in less than 9 months.

The rate of technological advancement can often seem overwhelming. Staying on top of developments is often enough of a challenge for most; but harnessing the incredible opportunities presented to us is another challenge altogether.

While I’m familiar with e-learning from a consumer perspective, over the last week I’ve had something of a crash course in learning technologies from a business perspective. It’s exciting to see the Saffron Interactive team are so active in mobile and social learning technologies; they clearly understand where e-learning is going and I’m excited to help get us to the destination.

Saffron Interactive are exhibiting for the first time at this year’s LEARNING LIVE event in London on 12th and 13th September.

Saffron Interactive @ LEARNING LIVE

Saffron Interactive will be demonstrating how its award–winning instructional design team’s expertise is most suited to today’s dynamic learning environments, where developments in communications technology are providing more mobile, social and cross-platform opportunities to engage learners and boost performance than ever before. We’ll also be highlighting how clever L&D solutions can address some of the challenges facing businesses today to make sure that you can benefit from these technological advances.

Throughout the event, Saffron Interactive will be showcasing how its record of excellence in providing instructional content helps businesses to stay ahead of the curve in challenging times.


This year’s LEARNING LIVE will include a Gala Networking Dinner and keynote address from the inspirational Professor Greg Whyte, a performance management enthusiast who has managed to compete in two Olympic Games, train David Walliams for the cross country channel swim and help Eddie Izzard to run 43 marathons in 51 days.

For more information about this event or to take advantage of Saffron Interactive’s preferential ticket rates, please email

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