Is Corporate India ready for the Next Wave of Learning Technology?


Corporate India is going through a seismic shift in terms of the adoption of disruptive technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (MI), and that includes innovative ELearning platforms and advanced learning technology, which are set to make further inroads in India’s ever growing corporate sector.

There has been a rapid uptake in the adoption of learning technology and eLearning in the Indian corporate space, considering the rising significance and strategic advantage of the continuous learning, and employee training and development practices.

With global technology stalwarts like Amazon, Google and Microsoft marking a larger presence across India, the country’s corporate sector is being significantly influenced by global learning and development (L&D) practices and standards. Leading organizations across the country are now leveraging modern ELearning platforms and innovative learn-tech tools to support a host of short as well as long-term objectives, including employee on-boarding, upskilling and reskilling, compliance training, employee engagement, sales training, and employee retention and productivity along with overall business growth.

The major drivers of growth for digital learning in India stem from the rising internet connectivity, smartphone penetration, government involvement and the ever increasing demand for talent from leading corporations. New age and advanced learning technology platforms not only provide easy access to learning but also help in measuring and analyzing learners’ performance, validate the effectiveness of ELearning programs and provide insights into improving them. Moreover, cloud-based SaaS platforms, mostly Learning Management Systems (LMSes), help organizations reduce learning and development (L&D) costs and hassles, while more advanced developments in Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) further improve the quality of online learning.

However, whether corporate India is ready for this next wave of learning technology remains to be seen. Here we take a look at what the future of learning technology looks like for Indian corporations and what they need to do to be future-ready.

The Future of Learning Technology in India

India’s online learning industry is set to touch $1.96 billion by 2021 as per research conducted by KPMG and insights from Google. According to the report, the user base will rise from 1.6 million users (2016) to 9.6 million users (2021), with reskilling and online certification driving the growth in online learning, which is expected to grow to $463 million by 2021. According to Nitin Bawankule, Industry Director, Google India, “The online education segment is set to become a multi-billion dollar opportunity in India. There are many factors driving this growth including the perceived convenience, increased reach and personalization offered by online channels.

There is no doubt that India’s potential for learning technology adoption and growth remains significantly promising, given the sheer amount of Internet (and mobile) users in the country, coupled with the rising number of employable individuals looking for the availability of reskilling opportunities in organizations to support their career advancement in the wake of today’s age of automation.

According to Nasscom, the increasing adoption of big data and analytics, Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI) is set to drive the cloud market growth in India towards a $ 7.1 billion industry by 2022. The report 'Cloud – Next Wave of Growth in India' also states that India’s Software as a Service (SaaS) market is set to grow towards a $3.3 to 3.4 billion mark by 2022, considering the abundance of talent and its relatively less cost, a well rooted sales eco-system and the adoption of advanced technologies to drive innovation. According to Nasscom President, Debjani Ghosh, "India's cloud computing market is poised for growth and, the technology is increasingly being embraced across businesses as well as consumers. Complementing the ecosystem are the futuristic technologies such as AI, ML, advanced analytics and immersive media that are aiding in the seamless adoption of SaaS, IaaS and PaaS offerings."

And, it certainly wouldn’t be too farfetched to include Cloud-based SaaS Learning Management Systems (LMS) in this growth trend, which have seen the revolutionary learning analytics, AI and ML technologies, and AR & VR gain a permanent stronghold as ‘must-haves’ of learning technology tools.

Learning technology solutions and ELearning programs will continue to bring key advantages to India’s corporate sector. A country as economically, geographically and culturally diverse as India will certainly benefit from the wide ranging learn-tech solutions, including Mobile Learning (anytime-anywhere learning, on-the-go learningm etc.), multi-lingual support, offline learning (no-Internet learning), virtual class rooms, blended learning and social learning to name a few. Some of these solutions are critical for Indian corporations’ L&D initiatives as they help navigate the regional, cultural and lingual barriers. Furthermore, one of the most advantageous aspects of modern day learn-tech tools for India’s corporations is their ability to provide individuals placed in remote towns and villages the access to world-class learning resources, at affordable prices, thus creating a sense of equal opportunity.

The Roadmap to Readiness

Considering the significant changes being constantly infused into the country’s employees’ everyday lives, Indian corporations need to step up their L&D game to match the global standards. And, one of the very first steps towards achieving this aim is to start aggressively integrating learning technology into India’s growing corporate landscape. This means customizing ELearning approaches and online learning content delivery mechanisms to meet the evolving needs of India’s diverse population.

The rate of technological advancements is accelerating, with learn-tech innovations creating new pathways towards improving learning processes, innovations like chatbots, AR/VR, AI and ML are steadily driving the digital revolution is India, intrinsically transforming the country into a knowledge-based economy. But, organizations and L&D professionals alike need to acknowledge the challenges and work hand-in-hand to effectively leverage the opportunities.

Indian corporations can further address the long standing issue of employee productivity through learning technology. According to Swiss Bank UBS’ Price And Earnings Report 2018, Mumbai-based employees clock in 3,315 hours of work per year (highest of 77 cities surveyed), yet Indian productivity is much lower in comparison, largely due to the presence of small firms (with large numbers in unorganized sectors) in the nation’s economy, which directly affects productivity as businesses are unable to invest in L&D programs, largely due to misinformation, lack of access and know-how. Through learn-tech solutions like LMSes, Indian organizations can significantly improve employee engagement, thus driving productivity and performance.

With a youth population of 1.37 billion, India has one of the world’s largest workforces. Yet, almost half of India’s working-age population is not contributing towards our economy as per the National Sample Survey Office’s (NSSO’s) survey. This is a loud and clear demand for more learning and development opportunities from Indian corporations and government alike, calling for a more effective learning ecosystem. India needs a systematic assessment and improvement of learning opportunities (grassroots as well as on-the-job) which can foster talent and build in-demand skills. Mobile Learning is one of the primary drivers of online learning, and Indian corporations need to get onboard with the rest of the world in embracing, understanding and prioritizing mobile learning to achieve greater success. Indian government being in favor of ELearning and learning technology is a big advantage, with the Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY) actively supporting research and development projects at several educational institutes across India. However, while Indian government’s L&D efforts acknowledge the skills problem persistent in its workforce, a more involved and dedicated approach is needed from India’s private sector.

Considering what the future will ask of its employees, Adobe India has already begun reskilling employees to catch them up with the next wave of technology. Managing Director-Adobe India and Vice President-Products, Shanmugh Natarajan, feels reskilling is the need of the hour. “We have the expertise and talent with core algorithmic mathematical background, with right set of engineering degrees. A new skill-set, however, is to be learnt on top of those and Adobe is already doing that with its engineers in the field of research and development,” he tells IANS in a candid interview, continuing, “The younger generation today is interested in ML, AI and other technologies and I am confident that such talent is already emerging from Indian universities. The new generation has tremendous opportunities in the core learning areas. India is steadily evolving into an ‘Experience Economy’. The competency of delivering compelling digital experiences is now a key barometer of success for progressive businesses. As the creators of revolutionary innovations like Photoshop and PDF, Adobe has set the standard for modern day ‘Experience Business’.”

Indian organizations must understand, above all, that learning technology is an enabler. Just like any other technology, the final result of learning technology too will be dependent on the approach and purpose of use. When used responsibly and intelligently, learning technology (infused with innovations like AI and ML) can gauge the learners’ requirements, analyze their learning behaviors as well as provide insights into improving the learning process. Finally, learning remains an unending process, while technology is indispensable to our everyday lives. Thus, learning technology and ELearning certainly has a huge role to play in India’s corporate sector.

So, in the words of Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, “A developed India by 2020, or even earlier, is not a dream. It need not be a mere vision in the minds of many Indians. It is a mission we can all take up & succeed.”