Companies are moving away from a focus on the amount of learning delivered, to measuring the effectiveness of a learning program
Although today organizations are abandoning their conventional methods of learning and adopting technological and innovative learning solutions, the Indian market for learning and development is still to mature as the quality of products and services vis-à-vis cost is still low and relationships between the buyer and vendor community is largely transactional. The L&D space continues to remain a largely fragmented space with a mix of individuals, consultancies and MNCs. The India HR Industry Study 2015 estimates the Indian market to be around 9,500 crores.
Companies are today realizing the need to link their internal management processes for understanding their organizations learning needs. Most SMEs are identifying areas of learning that can be organized and managed through outsourcing, which would not only help in administering quality learning but would also be cost effective.
The buyer in today’s market has greater exposure to world class products and services and is more aware of the cost and the competitive landscape. The kind of products available for most buyers is still however focused at the high-end market.
In terms of the forms of learning that organizations are adopting, “There is a very clear shift from instructor-led learning to online and blended learning including mobile learning and gamification” says Bimal Rath, Founder and MD, Think Talent Services. According to Anupam Sirbhaiya, Country Manager, CCL, “Organizations are investing less in short-term workshop or training courses, and now focus on journey-based approaches, especially for high potential talents.” At ICICI Prudential, all employees are given tablets to compliment work and learning. Judhajit Das of ICICI says “Our endeavor has always been to provide superior employee experience by offering the entire suite of employee self-service options and platform for learning solutions and social collaboration.”
The HR industry and learning & development space in particular is seeing an increased emphasis on talent management. Companies are moving away from a focus on the amount of learning delivered, to measuring the effectiveness of the program. Sunder Ramachandran, Head – Sales Training, Pizer says “businesses today are impatient with the prevailing metrics on the number of hours spent on programs.” There is an increasing pressure within the L&D function to link actual outcomes to performance. “Companies are constantly asking for the impact of L&D programs and how it changes the business outcome” says Anupam Sirbhaiya. With the buyer having access to free open content platforms including massive open online courses (MOOCs), offered by renowned universities, service providers will need to articulate business value that will drive buying choices in the industry.
The service provider market in L&D has a large pool of individual trainers and entrepreneurs. Often, when major corporations reach out to individual trainers they are unprepared to match the bandwidth of work that is required of them. According to Bimal Rath, individual trainers need to work on “processes and systems” that will help them match expectations.
Even as the technology space within the HR industry has significantly evolved over the past few years, most technologies are still focused on recruitment and staffing. While there will be free content available, there is a need for much more “contextualized and customized learning” says Bimal. While technologies like gamification and platforms like social, mobile and cloud have started to impact buying decisions, there is still scope for exploitation in the market. The success of these platforms lies in how they engage the learner.
Although the kind of relationships between the buyer and vendor community are still largely transactional, there is growing interest among a handful of companies with dispensable budgets to explore avenues for long-term partnerships. There is a need for service providers and buyers to understand how to partner strategically. Even as learning products and services are focused on the high-end buyer, there are huge opportunities for mass market learning products.
The need to groom talent is an opportunity that needs to be explored, while a part of the problem is systemic in the education system, there is a need for companies to explore opportunities to train candidates before they start working. While internships are an excellent opportunity to tackle this issue, there is a requirement for engaged learning tools and platforms that are geared towards the pre-onboarding period.