“Organisations need to get better at social & informal learning” – new Unicorn Simon Mercer talks eLearning

simonmercerYou may have noticed a new Unicorn name popping up in your inbox this month. Hugely-experienced eLearning purveyor, Simon Mercer, has joined our team as a Business Development Manager. With over 12 years in the industry, Simon has held a lots of clients’ hands through a pivotal decade. Now he wants to hold yours!

Hi Simon, welcome to Unicorn! You’ve been in the industry over 10 years, what in your opinion’s been the biggest contributing factor to where we are today?

Quite simply, it’s about the people. New technologies come and go at an alarming rate. Our industry’s tremendous ability to figure out how to bring it all together to deliver more effective learning when it’s needed is the thing, which has really impressed me. That is so vital if we are to keep driving our organisations forward in the new global economy.

Over the past decade, has there been anything you thought would really take off as the next big thing that ended up a damp squib?

Call me cynical, but I’m not really a fan of the ‘next big thing’; I find they often disappoint. It’s more about lots of good ‘little things’, and we should never forget that new technologies/paradigms etc always take longer to become embedded than anyone ever thinks, especially the experts!

Is there one thing happening in the industry right now that’s got you more excited than anything else?

I think we are finally at the point where the social media technologies and approaches which are ubiquitous in our personal lives, are finally starting to appear in the corporate learning world – and about time too! These will really open up the opportunities to learn from each other and deliver bite-sized, relevant learning at the point of need.

There are some interesting solutions around now (e.g. Fuse) that make it really easy to capture knowledge, share it and make it more fluid, and I think we’ll see more solutions like this to challenge the dominance of the traditional LMS as the place people go to find learning.

I’m a big fan of structured, formal learning and it’s not going to disappear anytime soon; however organisations need to get better at social and informal learning if they are to keep up with the frenetic pace of change.

How do you see your role at Unicorn?

I’m really looking forward to meeting as many of the team as possible, finding out what everyone does and working closely to bring all our knowledge and experience together to continue to give our clients a truly great experience, and for them to see Unicorn as the one-stop-shop for all their learning needs – with SkillsServe, and the best off-the-shelf content and bespoke content. Oh, and I’d love to see us on the preferred supplier list with the likes of Lloyds Banking Group, Barclays etc…..

So why did you choose Unicorn?

Unicorn has a great reputation, great people, great clients and great solutions. We are very clear about what we do well…and it’s rare to find a 25-year success story. Is that enough?

Get to know Simon a bit better…..

1) Favourite App? Call me a slow adopter but I’m not an avid App user, however Facebook continues to give me a nice warm feeling.

2) Favourite biggest waste of time? Discussion forums. I couldn’t possibly say which ones, however the amount of useless knowledge I now carry is overwhelming!

3) Song that would provide the soundtrack to your life? There Is A Light That Never Goes Out – The Smiths

4) What’s guaranteed to get you ranting? Dull eLearning, sloppy grammar, X-Factor/The Voice, people who spout corporate bulls**t etc.

5) What type of Unicorn are you – London or the seaside? London – I lived there for several years and can’t quite seem to shake it off! At the risk of sounding clichéd I love the melting pot of people and cultures, the history, the galleries, the river, the parks and the way it keeps developing.

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