4 Trends Shaping Organizational Learning in 2024

Article | 5 min read

Maureen Lonergan, VP, AWS Training and Certification

by Maureen Lonergan
VP, AWS Training and Certification

At this time last year, economic headwinds were forcing organizations to take a hard look at operating costs across the board. It forced everyone to get creative to do more with less. And I heard from executives consistently that the key to business resilience, especially in turbulent times, is a focus on developing their people and anchoring their culture on openness, curiosity, and continuous learning. Leaders are encouraging their people to think differently, seek out diverse perspectives, and challenge each other productively. The mood of 2024 is more optimistic, with people at the center of the opportunities. Whether you’re a line of business, HR, or technology leader, investing in the skills of your people will always be the most strategic and impactful lever you have. I see four big trends shaping organizational innovation in 2024.

1. Generative Artificial Intelligence

The World Economic Forum's Future of Jobs Report 2023 indicates more than 75% of organizations plan to adopt big data, cloud computing, and artificial intelligence (AI) in the next five years. Whether your organization is early in exploring these technologies, or well on your way to modernizing your operations with them, you need people with these skills to meet your goals. And the pool of available talent remains small—especially within the newest subset of AI, known as generative AI. The rapid pace of change that generative AI is introducing is leading to more urgency among workers and employers to upskill. This is for good reason: generative AI has captured our imaginations, revealing how it can revolutionize work and life experiences, impacting job functions well beyond IT. Regardless of your organization’s readiness, generative AI is here. Make a plan for how you’ll equip your people—from developers, to sales, marketing, HR, sales, customer support, and more—for the world of generative AI. (You can start with a quick 10-minute primer here). Get familiar with the rapidly emerging use cases and encourage your managers to learn how generative AI can improve their area of the business—to not only improve how work can get done, but inspire innovations for your customers. Invite cross-org discussions to share learnings, and establish generative AI champions to strategize the right guidelines and guardrails for its current and future use. Generative AI will usher in new skillsets, similar to how the internet and cloud computing changed the way that people work.

2. HR’s role in digital transformation

Historically, digital transformation initiatives grew from the individual lines of business or central IT. But a shift is occurring where the full c-suite works together to understand the capabilities of cloud, and how it can deliver value. When organizations train their whole workforce in cloud, they drive increased return on their cloud investment, overall business efficiency, increased security, and faster proof of concept innovation. With cloud as a critical business imperative, HR will need to reimagine the organization’s talent strategies from recruitment, to retention, and ongoing learning norms (more on that in a minute).  

There is also a change management component that HR will drive, as historically non-tech roles learn and are expected to work with the cloud. You may encounter apprehension or hesitation when upskilling or reskilling people, but by setting learning objectives tied to business and people goals, you’re future-proofing the organization against expected and unexpected changes and disruptions. Generative AI is already proving disruptive. No matter your role, now is the time to link arms with HR to ensure your people are equipped to support the company’s cloud strategy.


No matter your role, now is the time to link arms with HR to ensure your people are equipped to support the company’s cloud strategy."

3. Interactive, digital-first learning

The global pandemic changed how we work and how we learn – and how we view the future of each of those things. From a pure scale standpoint perspective, virtual and self-paced modes of working, communicating, and learning will always win, but may never fully overtake in-person for effectiveness. However, there’s been incredible innovation to maximize the best of both worlds, particularly for learning. Case in point, video games have been used to aid learning for decades and have been maturing rapidly of late. Today’s digital native employee (aged 25-35) are expecting game-based learning, with interactive, game-like elements and principles to make the learning experience more engaging and motivating.

What’s unique about game-based learning is the focus on experimentation, creative problem-solving, and a quest-like experience, either alone or with others, leading to higher comprehension and practical application of the concepts afterward, compared to traditional learning programs. I encourage you to explore game-based options to power your employee upskilling and reskilling goals, in particular across diverse teams and functions, helping you increase learning outcomes, as well as break down organizational silos.

4. Make time for employee learning

This last one is not so much a trend as what I believe to be a steadfast organizational imperative. Leaders must create a culture that allows employees to learn and gain skills that go beyond their regular job functions. Your employees will learn and build their skills in informal ways as they do their work. However, I challenge leaders to encourage employees to spend 10% of their time away from the demands of their email and daily tasks to focus on learning. In my organization, we have “No Meeting Fridays,” which give employees the freedom and permission to use their Fridays to learn and be curious in an area of their choosing. The more employees lean into using this time to build their skills and knowledge in new areas, the more fruitful your organization can be. I’m passionate about encouraging my people to be curious, resourceful, and to stretch the limits of their imagination. This is how big ideas are born, and how you nurture trust and longevity in your people. No Meeting Fridays have been so well-received in my organization that it’s spreading to other parts of the company. If this practice appeals to you, feel free to use it, or create your own version. Once you set this expectation in motion—and you model it as well, your organization will be forever changed for the better.

Your organization’s prosperity and stability, even in more challenging times, rely on cultural norms that are people-first. You can have the best products and the best technologies powering your operations, and it’s your practices that allow your people to grow with you that drive your bottom line. I’m excited about what’s in store for your 2024.  

About the author

Maureen Lonergan

Maureen Lonergan, Vice President of Training and Certification, AWS

Mauren Lonergan is Vice President of Training and Certification for Amazon Web Services (AWS), where she leads a global team of builders committed to training the next generation of cloud talent. Maureen helps AWS customers, partners, and employees gain the skills and knowledge to unlock the power of the AWS Cloud in the age of digital transformation. Learn more about AWS Training and Certification.

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No matter where you're at in your cloud journey, if you're making a business bet on cloud, now is the best time to go all-in on your people's skills to take into your future confidently.