When I had the privilege to both speak at and attend the 2009 through 2014 global A(S)TD conferences, I kept wondering what the meta-themes were. I uncovered four and I will write about them in preparation of this year’s ATD conference in Orlando, Florida, from May 17 to May 20. This second mini-blog is all about technology.

I'm a huge fan of Clayton Christensen, professor of innovation at Harvard. He defined disruptive innovation as "everything that’s complex and expensive, will become simple and cheap." You may wonder, as I do, when each of our old-world industries will enter disruptive waters. And, yes dear colleagues, our jobs in learning and development are currently being disrupted.

Our current disruption of L&D is being brought about by Internet and especially Cloud technologies that enable the easy creation of interactive learning environments. So easy, in fact, that even laymen can do it. Just think of MOOCs like the Khan Academy, Udemy, Coursera, EDx and LMSes such as Moodle and Instructure. e-Learning may indeed have been complex and expensive once: currently mobile learning is both simple and inexpensive.

(You may wonder, like our esteemed colleague Harold Jarche, whether we still have to build learning environments, since so much of what you would like to learn, it is already on the Internet and freely available. You made a great point there: but it’s beyond the scope of this article.)

This disruptive development invites us to re-assess and maybe even redefine our roles and added value. Why can’t a trainer develop his or her own learning environment and why won’t a L&D consultant, facilitate a webinar? When our work, tools and technologies were still complex, it may have made sense to segregate them into separate them into different functions, but does this still hold true? I don’t think so. If our business cards, three to five years from now, only read ‘coach’ or ‘trainer’ or ‘consultant’, our employability will have suffered for it.