Increase Productivity Through Digital Knowledge

“A 1 percent increase in productivity has more than ten times the financial impact as a 1 percent decrease in training costs.” Josh Bersin

Investing in digital knowledge makes business sense. There is a great deal of evidence about the many financial benefits of digital knowledge, however, a well-designed digital knowledge solution can also outperform instructor-led training when it comes to improving cognition and accelerating expertise. 

According to a meta-analysis by the US Department of Defense, a relevant digital knowledge experience is 6% more effective than traditional classroom instruction for teaching of facts and concepts related to technical subjects. As well, digital knowledge is found to be 11% more effective than classroom instruction when different instructional methods are used to deliver courses.

These findings should not come as surprise. A well-designed digital knowledge experience focuses a learner’s attention to specific problems and allows them to pause, repeat, and process information during instruction. It also provides real time feedback to learners. Additionally, digital knowledge allows for different instructional strategies to be used simultaneously, which helps increase the retention of facts and concepts over time. In an asynchronous learning environment, all these gains will occur faster and more effectively than a collective classroom environment.

How do these gains yield significant productivity returns? Let’s examine this question with a bottom-up analysis. Organizations generally deliver two types of training to address their business needs: training for declarative knowledge or procedural knowledge.

  • Declarative knowledge refers to facts and concepts learned and stored in the long-term memory. An operator’s ability to recite a particular regulation is an example of declarative knowledge.
  • Procedural knowledge refers to how to perform a task. Knowledge of how to dismantle electrical conduits safely is an example of procedural knowledge. It grows through repetition.

Declarative knowledge is critical to perform job tasks, in many cases, more so than procedural knowledge, because it lays a foundation for conscious competence – you know what you know and you have the ability to articulate and apply what you know. This ability can speed up the learning process in new settings, facilitate transfer of skills, and the communication of knowledge to others. This is how expertise develops.

Indeed, a chief goal of training is to accelerate the growth of expertise. Attaining expertise is critical because experts bring operational discipline, work acumen, lower error rate, and higher quality work to your business. These attributes easily translate into productivity gains that influence your organization’s financial bottom line.

As Deloitte’s L&D lead Josh Bersin reminds us: “if every dollar you spent on training increases worker productivity by a few percent, your training programs will generate enormous return on investment.” This is happy news for both learners and business owners.

Looking for advice on how to grow and retain expertise in your organization through digital knowledge solutions? We are here to assist! At Xpan, delivering a superb digital knowledge experience relevant to your organization is our core business.  Contact us today or speak with one of our specialists to find out how!


  1. Josh Bersin (2004). The blended learning book: best practices, proven methodologies, and lessons learned. San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer.
  2. A meta-analysis is a quantitative, scientific synthesis of research results from several studies. A meta-analysis offers a higher statistical power than a single study on a given subject. Therefore, it is instrumental in helping to establish evidence-based practice within a given field.
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