COVID-19 has changed the realities of our lives, our businesses, and our jobs. And it has become very clear that old skills and capabilities have to lead to new skill sets for individuals and organizations to accelerate their transformation. The state of enterprise L&D is also going through many disruptions and there are some critical gaps that need to be filled through innovative, intuitive and science and tech based products. And all this needs to be done while keeping learning engaging and context based.
In an interesting conversation with us, Sukhdeep Bhogal, Chief Product Officer, Harappa, shared with us how Harappa is unlocking tech innovation to make enterprise L&D personalized, engaging and measurable.
How do you think has enterprise L&D evolved over the years?
There’s a very famous saying from Paul Graham, Co-founder of Y Combinator which goes, “When experts are wrong, it’s often because they’re experts on an earlier version of the world.”
Looking back at the evolution of the enterprise L&D, from the early 1900s when Ford set up a sociology department to Motorola setting up a corporate university; it has evolved since then. In the early 2000s, the first set of LMSs started coming in. But even in those early days, the LMS was static and had no adaptive curriculum and the content was not standardized for scale. Sometime in the 2010s, the democratization of education started to happen, with emphasis on the ability to leverage collective knowledge of organization through social learning and on facilitating learning in the real world by bringing in experts. This is how it has evolved over the last 100 (or so) years.
What has been the effect of the pandemic on the state of enterprise L&D in India?
The first effect is that the need to upskill and reskill the workforce in this innovative hybrid setup has come to the fore in the L&D space.
While there was always an emphasis on functional learning in the enterprise domain, the pandemic has pushed the L&D focus more on soft skills as well. This has probably happened because teamwork started getting affected when people were not sitting in the same office together.
I also think it has overall become challenging to prove learning effectiveness in a virtual format because the learner’s attention span has reduced a lot. It’s difficult to maintain audience interest when they are physically not present.
Also, there are no boundaries while working from home. So, managing productivity, managing time—all these essential skills have become imperative to learn. So a shift from functional learning to soft skills learning has been triggered to a large extent by the pandemic.
What as per you, are some of the gaps that currently exist in the L&D offerings of enterprises?
You’d probably find a lot of competency frameworks that currently exist in organizations for L&D. But I would like to point to a very recent McKinsey report which defines the skills citizens will need in the future world of work. They have picked out four large categories which will become a focus—cognitive skills, interpersonal skills, self-leadership skills, and digital skills. These are further divided into 30 skill groups and they have tried mapping the delta through a survey of 18.000+ workforces across countries. What they figured out was that deltas are pretty high on certain skills and those are the ones that need utmost attention.
Of course understanding of digital systems is one thing, but the whole communication, planning, and ways of working have shown a big gap alongside teamwork effectiveness. Similarly, encouraging collaboration, critical thinking are some of the emerging gaps which we have also observed.
How is Harappa leveraging tech innovation to make enterprise L&D personalized, engaging and measurable?
The first and foremost thing we do is look at the frameworks that exist for L&D across enterprises. Harappa itself has a framework called Thrive Skills (social, cognitive and behavioral skills). What we are trying to do is map these competency frameworks to one of our 75 Thrive Skills. We leverage a lot of tech and ML data which gives a very probable match against the competency gaps that exist today.
Secondly, in terms of delivery and learning journeys, we have moved away from normal formats to blended learning journeys which are structured to impact learning in a variety of ways. The idea is to derive benefit for learners through our action based and data driven monitoring.
We are also focusing a lot on driving transformative career success using these Thrive Skills, essentially including social, cognitive, and behavioral skills to help learners succeed at every stage of one’s career.
Our content is targeted across various hierarchies through the organization. In essence, we are drawing upon behavioral science research and tools created by experts and then we are developing robust diagnostic tools and engaging learning journeys.
Amidst a rapidly changing environment that calls for rapid reskilling, how do Harappa’s solutions empower companies to scale role-based employee skill development?
We have received problem statements from enterprises who want to be future ready and lessen the competency skill gap. And these enterprises need solutions for handling ambiguity and uncertainty during these times, creating high performance teams, and improving decision making skills.
We have innovated our way through these problems and created curriculums and are delivering learning in an engaging way to overcome these challenges. And this is one of our biggest strengths—we work closely with our partners to figure out their challenges and curate a variety of learning solutions to address these challenges at scale and minimize existing skill gaps.
How do you think the future of enterprise L&D looks like in the coming years? What would be some of the overarching trends?
The first and foremost trend is around how to create more and more engaging content. So the biggest trend that will emerge out of this need is gamification.
A second thing that is going to come sooner rather than later is recommendation-based learning. It’s no longer a on-size-fits-all. So a skill gap at a personal manager level may be very different from a manager of managers level. At Harappa, we believe that content is king, but context is god. Context is what changes across hierarchies. And aligning learning with context is something that can only be done through ML based recommendation engines now.
The next big trend would be around self-learning analytics or AI. These are becoming a reality in the L&D space today, with Harappa at the forefront of bringing this tech revolution into the L&D industry.
Lastly, while the enterprise L&D space currently is highly desktop usage based, it is going to move fairly quickly to mobile-first usage. Also, what will become increasingly popular is the hybrid format of the programs. It’s no longer going to be a normal asynchronous video course but will integrate live masterclasses, thus adding a more human engagement level to it.