Many apps and SaaS products on the market today promise to improve or better your organization in incredible ways. The unfortunate truth though is that a majority of this is marketing noise that over promises and under delivers.

To identify where true innovation is occurring you have to look a little deeper, and the fact that many forward-looking organizations have begun utilizing verified badges and micro credentials is a good indicator that this technology is bringing significant business value.

Currently being used at IBM, NASA, the University of Texas, e-learning platform Pluralsight and many others, an increasingly diverse set of organizations are recognizing the benefits of integrating a micro credential management system to positively affect their bottom line, empower their employees and increase brand exposure.

Recently, MarketsandMarkets research predicted that this sector will be worth more than $200 million by the year 2023. When compared to the $83 million it sits at today, this is nearly 20% growth every year for at least the next five years - a rather strong indicator to say the least.

If you're uncertain on what exactly a micro credential is, it's helpful to understand that digital badges, micro credentials and digital credentials all refer to the same thing:

A digital record that contains information about accomplishments, embedded into a portable image file that can be verified for trustworthiness.
Insert-able anywhere a PNG image file can go, this example of a micro credential provides proof the holder has their SHRM designation (HR expertise with CA employment laws).

The Micro Credential advantage

The empowerment of someone who receives a micro credential is unmistakable - they obtain a portable way to prove skills & accomplishments that stays with them throughout their life. For an organization the benefits may not be as obvious, warranting the detailed breakdown of the 4 core benefits of micro credentials below.

1. Maximizing & retaining your organization's talent

An exciting feature of issuing and managing micro credentials across your entire organization is that any individual's accomplishments are captured and can be analyzed. As a profile of competencies for every person in the org becomes easily accessible, your HR is empowered to identify & quickly address any skill gaps.

This creates an environment where talent can be nurtured and progressed efficiently to meet organizational needs. Execs and managers can leverage badges to incentivize employees towards certain accomplishments at a company-level. For example, if a company is exploring a product offering in a new industry, they can launch a badge program rewarding employees that take a training course in that new industry. In addition, this could be used to evaluate which employees are demonstrating professional development.

2. Increase employee engagement

Badges can be issued for a variety of internal company accomplishments - demonstrating hard or soft skills, participating in a notable project, or completing different trainings. By having a tangible, shareable asset as a reward for these achievements, employees know that their hard work is being recognized. Badges can even be incorporated as a part of goal-setting or formal review process to align managers and employees on expectations.

Also, due to the changing nature of work many of the people in your organization will likely experience non-traditional professional learning. When you issue a micro credential for any experience, that individual will carry the proof with them and be able to benefit from it for the rest of their career. As any HR manager can tell you, when you create value for your people they're much more likely to remain with your organization, and this is exactly what happens when you empower them through micro credentials.

3. Improving brand awareness

Most micro credential management platforms adhere to the Open Badge Specification that enables them to move freely across the web, and removes any geographic restrictions so everyone the world over can interact with them. Because the micro credential is attesting to the holders skills and accomplishments, they are organically incentivized to share it with the world. This benefits your organization by creating a group of skilled individuals who are freely promoting your brand each time someone sees a micro credential you've issued.

As an added bonus, for a 3rd party to verify the authenticity of the issued credential they must visit your website. This creates a brand new pipeline of traffic that costs significantly less than traditional options (more details about this in number 4). As an example of the branding effect micro credentials can have, IBM has earned over 112M social media impressions alone from their digital badge program.

4. Reducing costs to your organization

Tracking employee achievements and records is very important in ensuring success during an employee's tenure, but the overhead cost of tracking, recording and issuing these achievements can be costly for an organization. By utilizing micro credentials your organization can significantly reduce overhead expenses and  boost individual efficiency by switching from paper credentials to digital ones.

If your organization issues any type of paper credential it costs on average $20 to file it, $120 to find it and $220 to replace it. Contrast this to using a micro credential management platform where each credential can be created, issued or re-issued in under 10 minutes while costing less than a dollar and the positive effect to your bottom line becomes hard to ignore.

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