READ the December 2021 issue of our magazine: Work in 2022: What's Next?
In 2022, organisations across the globe prioritise learning to bounce back from the crisis and emerge stronger than before. Investing in human capital, allowing employees tech-enabled learning opportunities is being seen as a critical enabler to boost productivity and drive performance.
In an interview with Kashyap Dalal, Co-founder and Chief Business Officer, Simplilearn, we discussed the top L&D trends for the upcoming year and how learning solutions are innovating to cater to the changing L&D priorities.
What role can technology play in driving adaptive learning to empower professionals, enabling them to perform amid unexpectedly changing circumstances?
PILLARS OF DIGITAL ECONOMY: Companies have started adopting different methods to improve their digital economy readiness. The typical kind of model that we see emerging in the market is putting data and programming at the core supported by cloud infrastructure and cybersecurity as enablers. The two primary pillars of the Digital Economy are Data Programming and Data Analytics. They are supported by Cloud Infrastructure and Cyber Security. And then you have digital sales and marketing at the final market-facing end of it.
ONBOARDING ONLINE: The second trend that companies are adopting is around onboarding. Onboarding new talent is a big challenge in a remote environment. But technology has become a huge driver in making sure that onboarding happens faster. For most of the companies, onboarding happened offline with training sessions held at the company and one-to-one meetings between managers and new hires. And suddenly, when you have to do everything remotely, you need all types of technology to be able to onboard the new employees properly.
CLASSROOM TO CLASSROOM IN THE CLOUD: The third big trend that I see is the move to Classroom in the Cloud. Traditionally companies have relied on e-learning platforms for video learning and offline Classroom for training that needs to be interactive. Now, this classroom training has to transition to a virtual environment to manage remote working.
Our primary value proposition is that we are focusing on delivering live interactive classroom programs online. This is something that has the potential to emerge as an industry.
A lot of companies are transitioning to a structured platform-based approach for this because scaling virtual classrooms supported with labs/projects and hands-on learning require technology solutions.
The aim should be to provide the learner with new methods according to technological advances. So, with new versions there will be new technology and new approaches that will come up.
One of the key tech advances in education is adaptive learning. This essentially means that the entire learning pedagogy is designed in such a way that each learner learns at his speed and can skip or spend extra time on each section till the right level of knowledge is achieved.
What are some key L&D trends emerging in the pandemic-struck world of work and how are you innovating and improvising your solutions to cater to the changing L&D priorities?
The virtual learning provided by e-learning platforms is one of the major trends that boomed during the pandemic. However, it has its fair share of challenges. The biggest challenge during online learning is the inability to help the learners who run into a problem. With in-person learning, people could approach their instructors for solutions to fix problems they face whether big or small. Moreover, learners no longer have the environment afforded by a lab where they can learn the details of their projects. The primary help such platforms can offer is an interactive video session with the instructor. Beyond that, learning about projects and clarification on any topic is limited. This is the reason why there is a need for customized technology to address individual problems.
There is something in the works where we are designing customisable operating systems which will have a variety of licensed professionals, labs, projects and also an option for assessment. Personalised testing for each learner is a method that could alleviate such challenges. It would vary depending on whether one is a basic learner or an advanced learner. If we look at data science or data analysis you have ‘n’ number of tools to try to make sure that the person is learning. For that, the core focus should be on understanding how data analytics works and what are algorithm aspects you need to be familiar with.
What skills are in high demand for the next year? Do you see any new L&D trends emerging in these few months and what are the companies we can look forward to and what changes are they trying to make right now?
This is an ongoing cycle. We have seen changing trends over the last decade. What was popular in 2010 is obsolete now. At any point in time, there are technologies that are mainstream, technology that is emerging and those that are already in decline.
Right now, data, programming, cloud computing, cyber security and digital marketing are some of the trends which will continue for some years.
We definitely see a requirement for data and technology skills in high demand. Then there are areas on the management side with skills like design thinking which are becoming very popular among companies.
Some other technologies are equally on the decline. For example, big data and Hadoop have been replaced with cloud and a lot of people want to learn how to manage data on the cloud.
ONBOARDING PLATFORM: When it comes to changes in the emerging L&D trends, one of the key focus areas is onboarding employees remotely and this requires an outcome-oriented, live and interactive learning approach.
Our entire platform is designed so that we can deliver the entire onboarding process. Sometimes, companies onboard large numbers of employees in different fields. It is imperative that each employee has mastered the skills needed before they join the workforce for a specific role. Our programs are custom built to deliver this for multiple different roles - employees joining as Data Analysts, Java Programmers, Cloud programmers and other roles can take our program for 4-8 weeks and join the role once they have mastered all necessary skills for the job.
For example, we have a program called campus to hire. If the company has made 500 offers to potential new employees, the entire program can be delivered to everyone even before they join the company. This ensures that the person has all the required skills already covered. So these are the kinds of innovations that we are working on for the onboarding site.
DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION SKILLS: The second key trend for L&D is to build the skills needed for Digital Transformation of companies. For this we work with L&D leaders to deliver role oriented programs for 30+ key roles needed by most global companies - across areas like Data, Machine learning, Devops, Agile, Cloud and so on.
REWARDING TOP TALENT: A third key area we see for L&D leaders is using skilling as a way to reward top talent. Simplilearn has partnered with some of the best academic institutions. We partnered with MIT, IIT Kanpur, Caltech, Purdue and other top universities. All our programs are curated with top academic partners and top industry partners. Some of these programs, which result in a prestigious university certificate in highly sought after skills are great for L&D teams to reward the company’s star performers and add value to them. These are some of the innovations and new initiative offerings we are focusing on.
Given the immense growth online learning has witnessed in the last 19 months, how are you planning to expand into other markets and stay ahead of increasing market competition?
Currently, India, and US regions contribute maximum to our revenues. But one of our key focus areas is to expand our services and extend it to non-India and non-US regions which have huge potential for growth.
Presently we are observing a very strong growth in Europe, APAC and Latin America. These are some of the regions where we are looking at having a stronger presence in. Part of our strategy for enterprise is looking for strong partners. In many countries, we have distributors who represent us in those markets that allow us to have very strong local expertise and local execution capability.
We look at local distributors and partners where our portfolio can be complementary to their offering to customers. Apart from such partnerships, we are also hoping to build local teams and have a stronger presence in the global market.
The major advantage of our platform is that in a lot of markets, even if the learning material might be in English the content can be localised. In stronger geography, you can deliver a lot of local content, local examples, and intervene in the local languages. We are definitely seeing the benefits of this. I believe it’s a good time for the learning industry. We are always looking for partnerships with interested distributors or large companies which share our interests.
We currently have registered offices in US, Singapore and India. We will be looking at setting up a presence in a few other key markets shortly.