Ten ways digital badges provide real value in business

While the benefits to the badge earner are obvious (the ability to broadcast skills, build trust and a personal brand in social media), the benefits to your organization may not be as evident.

We see digital badges helping to solve a number of business problems which are typical to any organization. Here is a list of ten areas where we believe the program is working now. Importantly, these are areas where we can measure the impact of badges.

1. Increase verified talent for your clients. Unlike simple digital emblems and logos, digital badges are tethered, using built-in metadata, back to the actual achievement. So, when someone clicks on the badge, the badge provides information about the activity, skills achieved, date of accomplishment, links to evidence and recommended next actions. Whether an employer is looking to hire new talent or promote from within, a digital badge provides a verifiable measure of skills.

2. Drive skills progression toward advocacy. IBM found that fully 50% of badge earners return for a second badge, deepening a commitment as they see the value their programs can provide.

3. Increase crowdsourcing of innovation. Digital Badges can be awarded to inventors and community members who provide their expertise, skills and recommendations. When you recognize talent and innovation, you get more talent and innovation.

4. Increase product trials. By linking product trial downloads to skills building activities, product trials go up. in fact, in one area of IBM’s business, product downloads increased by more than 60%. Makes sense: First, show people the benefit, reward them for building their skills, and then give them an opportunity to try the product for free. Because they already know how to use the product, they are more likely to see the value and make a buying decision.

5. Increase sales. IBM found a correlation between sales and digital badges. Technical sales professionals who earned digital badges were more likely to achieve sales quotas than employees who did not earn badges. These studies show correlation and more work can be done to determine causation.

6. Increased engagement. IBM’s human resources department found a correlation between badges and engagement. Employees who earn digital badges show higher engagement scores than employees who do not. Among IBM badge recipients, 87% said they are more engaged because of the digital badge program. A full 72% of IBM managers now employ badges to recognize employees for achievement.

7. Decrease support calls. Most support issues are squarely education and training related. By rewarding customers for building skills, you are also reducing support calls. Support calls cost an organization anywhere from $30 to $400+, not counting the lost opportunity for the client who wasted time struggling with the problem.

8. Increase client confidence with demonstrated skills. It’s no secret a college degree has value to an employer, as does a certification. Clients should expect consultants and contractors to have verifiable skills. A digital badge from a reliable source builds trust. Digital badges are opening doors for consultants, developers, architects – really any talented individual seeking an opportunity.

9. Motivate employees to drive their own development. According to a study by the Smarter Workforce Institute, the engagement level of employees who receive recognition is almost three times higher than the engagement level of those who do not. Open Badges have real currency in the market, if they are tied to resume-worthy activities. This last point is important: Do not badge just for showing up. You should expect badge earners to pass an assessment or a screening activity before they earn a credential.

10. Map available skills and specific gaps. This is huge. With digital badges, you can create a skills registry and heat map from diverse activities. For example, if a person attends a hackathon in India and also takes an online course, you can see both badges in the candidate’s badge wallet. That allows you to provide targeted recommendations to the candidate to progress talent. It also enables you to identify skills gaps and make changes to your programs. In just the first few months, IBM was able to map skills in more than 80 countries — insight they could not easily aggregate before.


About the Author:

David Leaser is an award-winning strategist, C-Suite consultant & program lead in L&D and HCM and the co-founder of Digital Badge Academy. He is the founder of the IBM Digital Badge program, a leading-edge digital credential program, the IBM New Collar Certificate Program and IBM’s first cloud-based embedded learning solution. David is an executive at MyInnerGenius and was the senior strategist for IBM’s Smarter Workforce and the Global Skills Initiative. David is a member of the 1Edtech Board advisory group for digital credentials, the national Credential As You Go Advisory Board and a senior advisor to New Markets Venture Capital Group. He provides guidance to the US Department of Labor and the US Department of Education as an employer subject matter expert.

David was appointed as an Industry Fellow in the Center for the Future of Higher Education & Talent Strategy in the College of Professional Studies at Northeastern University, an American Tier 1 university. He is the author of thought leadership white papers on talent development, including “Migrating Minds,” “The Social Imperative in Workforce Development” and Wiley’s “Connecting Workplace Learning and Academic Credentials via Digital Badges.”

David holds an M.A. in Communications Management from USC’s Annenberg School and a B.A. in Communications from Pepperdine University. Connect with David through http://digitalbadgeacademy.com or http://myinnergenius.com


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