Learning industry is increasingly shifting to a consulting model as companies develop strategies with service providers
Gamification needs to be considered as a concept rather than a technology. Some of its ideas are tried and tested learning solutions packaged and delivered in a new form
The L&D industry in India is among the most dynamic service spaces in India. A number of factors – new concepts, changing workforce composition, and the growing influence of consumer technologies – contribute to the dynamism and activity in this space. As the industry continues to transform both in the way services are delivered and demanded, organizations are seeking ways to translate lessons from the workshop to the workplace.
The industry of learning can broadly be categorised into three distinct consumer segments – the traditionalists, the beginners and the torchbearers. The traditionalists are organizations in which learning delivery has remained mostly unchanged in the last 10 years. Such organizations are still heavily reliant on instructor-led and event-based training. The beginners are organizations which are starting to scale, and feel the need to put together formal learning mechanisms to sustain growth. The third segment is of highly mature learning organizations, which are pushing up the maturity of the learning industry in India. While a large part of the service market comprises traditional learning services, the other segments of the market are where most of the action is taking place. Technology-based learning continues to grow and evolve. Besides that, the growing maturity signals a move toward consulting-type learning services.
Guillaume Gevrey, CEO of the learning service company, Concept 2 Competence says that companies are now looking to sit with a learning service provider to collaborate and develop a learning strategy that aligns with the company’s business strategy. Thus, learning in India is finally moving towards a real consulting model. Service providers are responding to this demand trend by building consultative capabilities.
Customization and contextualization have become key. The days of over-the-shelf training modules are over. G.S. Ramesh, Chairman of learning service company Layam Group, believes that there are a number of useful and practical lessons rooted in Western concepts, as long as they are tailored to meet the needs of an Indian organization. Contextualization to fit the needs of an organization and the general cultural environment is a growing trend in L&D services. The new generations of the workforce, through their unique learning habits and consumption patterns, are causing shifts in the way learning interventions are designed. New delivery mechanisms have come up in the market, driven mostly by the social media and mobile revolution.
At the strategy level, most organizations will be focusing heavily on some specific aspects of talent management. Learning services, accordingly, will be tailored to meet these needs. Pallavi Jha, Chairperson and Managing Director, Dale Carnegie Training India believes that leadership competencies, employee engagement, senior leadership development and high potential development will be among the key priorities for organizations.
New-age learning strategies of 2015
Customize and contextualize
Learning providers in India reveal that more and more conversations with HR or learning Heads are beginning to revolve around customized learning. Off-the-shelf solutions are disappearing as everyone is asking for contextualisation of content. While learning service providers are importing tactics and techniques from other regions, these are rarely getting implemented in their original form. Organizations are already sitting on large sources of learning content. Conversations with service providers are beginning to revolve around how to contextualize content to suit a particular audience.
The involvement of HR leaders in the learning process has become greater than ever before. They are much more willing to share their business strategy with the learning service provider to jointly develop a strategy. As a result, the traditional relationship of a service provider with a learning organization has shifted from vendor to partner.
Gamify traditional delivery channels
A lot of the buzz around gamification is about perceptions of technology. While technology and IT solutions are a necessary prerequisite, gamification should not be looked at merely as the implementation of technology. True, some gamified platforms are heavily technology reliant, but a number of concepts have emerged with minimal dependence on technology. Gamification, thus, needs to be looked upon as a concept rather than a technology. Some of its ideas are actually tried-andtested learning solutions, but packaged and delivered in modern forms. The power of storytelling is already established, and service providers are bringing this concept to the learning organization through technology. For communication-centric roles, learning through storytelling techniques is especially effective. A lot of organisations can benefit from these techniques for their frontline, sales, business development, product- and project-management staff. With little or no technology involvement, gamified learning through the art of storytelling can become a great way to transfer lessons. Another key gamification technique gradually picking steam is the concept of quizzing, a technique which triggers the competitive spirit in an individual. Organizations, however, have a perception bias on how quizzes are designed and delivered. Rather than view it in the traditional sense as an event-based activity delivered from an individual to a group, learning service providers have created quizzing techniques in various forms. These quizzes keep participants engaged and are conducted even during campus hiring.
Adopt new learning frameworks
Several new learning delivery channels have emerged riding the wave of social media and mobile phones. Rajiv Jayaraman, CEO and Chief People Officer at the learning service company Knolskape, recommends that a good learning framework for any organisation can be the 3Ps – products, programs and platforms. In each of these key delivery areas, organizations are looking to customize content and delivery to meet key result areas.
Social and mobile integration has become a common requirement while choosing learning service providers. Aruna Telang, Manager, Consulting Services- Asia, Skillsoft, reveals that organizations have started exploring means to provide multi-modal learning to its employees. Learning content is generated and propagated through social and mobile channels in multiple forms, including blogs, wikis, podcasts and videos.
One may definitely conclude that a lot has happened in the past 12 months in the learning and development space in India. In fact, some believe that in a few areas of learning delivery, services in India have become as evolved as those in Western economies. As the coming months will reveal more changes in the market, the L&D space in India is on a steep maturity climb. Raj Dam, Learning Evangelist and Founder of Playday believes that consolidation will likely pick up in this market in the coming months. Many M&A events and introduction of more global players in this space is likely.
For an organization looking to employ a learning service provider, five key things will be critical in the decision-making process. First, a service provider’s intent to offer consultation. Buying decisions will also greatly depend on a service provider’s intent and conviction to demonstrate results. Third, the ability of an organization to customize and contextualize learning that will make the difference between a buy and no-buy decision. An organization’s intent to offer social and mobile-based solutions will also be a great deciding factor. Finally, a service that offers solutions for the complete spectrum of learning needs of an organization may end up becoming a more fruitful relationship compared to a piecemeal approach.