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Three things we learned in New Orleans

Earlier this month, ForeignExchange attended the Society of Pharma and Biotech Trainers annual conference in New Orleans. We set up a booth in the exhibit hall and talked to a lot of people from a lot of different companies, from big pharma firms to small technology providers. Attending conferences are a great way to keep a finger on the pulse of the industry and trade ideas not only with attendees but also with other vendors and exhibitors and presenters. Of course, we returned home from New Orleans with a lot of ideas and information but here are three of the most commonly-recurring themes we heard about at SPBT:

1. The handheld tablet as training tool. The iPad and other tablets have not only been fun technologies for surfing the Web and watching movies. It is proving to be a powerful tool for professional trainers to disseminate information in a portable, easy-to-use and versatile medium. Of course, this presents a new set of challenges for trainers and developers, not the least of which is how to manage global training. While the iPad is prevalent in the US and Europe, it might not be as pervasive in other parts of the world. Also, developing globalized content that can be easily localized for specific geographies must be considered. Tablets run on different technology than many other training programs and it is critical to make sure that content can be easily extracted, translated and rebuilt for all languages and cultures.

2. So-called “soft skills” are as important as technical knowledge. Even the most knowledgeable trainers will be ineffective if they don’t have the ability to impart information on their trainees. This means having good communication skills, patience and an ability to adapt to changing learning styles and delivery methods. Here again, with training departments consolidating across international lines, trainers must now also factor in cultural sensitivity and language issues.

3. Localization is more important than ever. When we last attended SPBT two years ago, localization was a foreign concept to many of the training professionals with whom we spoke. But not this year. At our booth and in conversations during breaks, we noticed that the level of awareness of localization has risen considerably. People approached us to discuss their issues building global programs, how to work with their overseas offices and how to schedule and budget for translations. Clearly, the word is getting out and we’re happy to help. Our own Kathleen O’Brien co-presented with Jim Delaney from Axiom on best practices for building a global training program. The session was well-attended and we learned as much from the audience as (hopefully) they did from Jim and Kathleen.

1 Comment:

  1. Ioshealthsystems.com said...
    Thanks, very good review. I think to doctors and managers of medical clinics your article is useful!

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