The rise of digital technologies has ushered in a new way of conducting business.
Organizations these days have all the digital tools, solutions, and services need for increasing productivity and ultimately improving the business outcomes.
Consequently, these new technologies are not only transforming the nature of work but also turning organizations into highly interactive and connected workplaces.
When we talk about present-day technologies for businesses, Artificial Intelligence (AI), along with its constituent technology, Machine Learning (ML), is penetrating every inch of the corporate fabric.
According to the 2017 study from the Boston Consulting Group and MIT Sloan Management Review, 83 percent of executives said AI was a strategic priority for their businesses then.
There’s also an Infosys study, that those using AI or planning to use it are expecting a 39-percent boost in their organizational revenue.
Clearly, the period of AI is here, and it is engulfing various business verticals as a means to speed up tasks and reduce monotonous labor. As such, it’s not surprising to see 61 percent of business professionals considering AI as their company’s most significant data initiative.
AI-backed tools: Driving the HR function and corporate L&D
With data being generated in mind-boggling numbers these days, organizations have fixed their eyes on AI to empower their HR department. They are now leveraging this emerging technology to process large volumes of data-- something that traditional data processing techniques failed to manage efficiently or effectively-- and translate them into something valuable.
The implications of AI for HR, and ultimately for corporate L&D, are particularly seen in the way learning and development platforms of organizations have changed owing to this technology.
Just like recommendations on Amazon and Spotify, where movies, TV shows, and music recommendations are personalized to our interest, learning and development programs in organizations have become more about what employees desire and require.
Today’s L&D initiatives have moved beyond a one-size-fits-all, check-the-box approach to incorporate a concrete employee engagement and retention strategy. They are making a shift from learning management systems (LMSs), which were traditionally designed for HR, formal training and compliance, to advanced, AI-backed learning platforms to cater to the needs of the digitally-savvy, remote and on-the-go workforce.
Here are a few ways in which these learning platforms are transforming corporate L&D programs:
In our information-driven world, every decision we make must be backed by relevant, accurate data. AI is enhancing existing L&D solutions to provide improved forms of analytics and reporting of learning and performance data. The goal in this context is to gauge more actionable performance insights that are based on past activity and probable future business outcomes.
Organizations can make use of this data to create and analyze more detailed and relevant reports on the effectiveness and return on investment (RoI) of learning within the organization. This enables employees, coaches, and teams to better understand how learning works in the workplace and how to embrace it.
At the same time, such a platform can enable HR professionals to:
Monitor and assess applicants.
Manage and promote employees’ skills and performance.
Detect attrition in the organization.
Boost employee satisfaction.
Reveal hidden human capital resources.
2. Individualized feedback
By 2030, millennials will comprise nearly 75 percent of the global workforce. This segment of employees is accustomed to living in a highly connected world, desiring an "always-on" connection in every aspect of their lives.
Compared to previous generations, millennial employees desire continuous feedback. They are constantly looking for ways to improve their performance, with 87 percent of them valuing career growth opportunities to stick to a job.
However, only 29 percent of the millennial workforce is engaged while 55 percent are not engaged, and 16 percent are actively disengaged. 44 percent of millennials do claim they would be more likely to be engaged if their manager has regular one-on-one meetings with them (Source).
With today’s workforce is desiring ongoing senior-subordinate interactions and relevant career development opportunities, organizations can find a way to engage and retain their employees through individualized feedback sessions using machine learning.
This AI technology empowers existing L&D platforms and provides highly-advanced feedback techniques. ML algorithms are capable of processing aggregate learner data in real-time and delivering timely, automated, and relevant feedback tailored to each employee. It can predict the best time to provide feedback, allowing it to take place when employees are in the flow of learning and identifying a proper format for it.
ML techniques make existing systems more effective in providing intelligent automated feedback, on issues such as knowledge, progress, and skill gaps, directly to employees in the learning stage. L&D initiatives can be more informed with intuitive tests and quizzes for employees. Some systems can even track learner activity to automate the formulation of appropriate test questions, thereby providing dynamic and robust online assessment strategies within learning platforms.
3. Personalized learning curves
In this context, learning platforms process and interpret massive collections of data related to previous activity to tailor content recommendations to each learner’s needs.
Not to forget, AI and automation will undeniably render some jobs redundant. So, HR and business leaders are now focusing on delivering relevant learning content based on employees’ preferences, background, behavior, interests, and skills through AI-based reskilling programs for matching employees to new roles.
In fact, AI has already found application in some of the biggest learning platforms as it provides more intelligent content recommendations to learners in the organization. This enables learners to find more relevant learning resources from the increasingly large collection of content available, both in internal repositories and on the internet.
4. Target at-risk employees
With AI comes “Insights-as-a-Service”, a pattern that is en route to becoming an organizational centerpiece. Corporates are nowadays dedicatedly focused on identifying employees who are at risk of disengaging and failing to complete their learning objectives. Even today, the best of the Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have a completion rate of only 10 to 15-percent.
Thanks to the emergence of AI-supported techniques that HR professionals can push the completion rate of their training programs higher. The system can discover various trends in learner data to support employees at risk much earlier in the process and with greater accuracy. Using AI-backed tools, HR is better equipped to provide relevant statistics that allow employees to reflect on the reasons why their training is important at that precise moment.
Besides supporting learners at risk of disengaging, these tools can help HR professionals to cull out high-performing learners or other learner groups and boost learning effectiveness by tailoring learning resources to the needs of specific learner groups.
5. Virtual assistants and chatbots
One of the biggest developments made possible by AI is chatbots and virtual assistants. It is believed that chatbots will drive 85 percent of customer service by 2020. At the same time, 63 percent of the people prefer to message an online bot to get in touch with a brand. Also, these are expected to slash business costs by a whopping $8 billion by 2022!
The reason behind the rising popularity of these technologies is their potential to provide contextually valuable information to enable learners to accomplish their tasks. They guide individual learners along their career path with more detailed information than what a peer, mentor or a supervisor would be able to provide. This leaves no room for managers to exercise their gut instincts, thereby eliminating any sort of bias that may taint the learning process.
Chatbots and virtual assistants can be designed and trained to suit learning without much effort because other services support much of the background functions. These technologies rely on simpler UI and UX elements, thereby doing away with effort-intensive design and development techniques. As they process and deliver copious amounts of learning data, they create extensive scope for integrating ML in an organization’s L&D programs.
Making AI a part of corporate L&D
An organization’s success depends on how it prepares its employees for challenges in a highly data-driven, competitive, and fast-paced business landscape.
ML tools, embodying the empowering nature of AI, offer opportunities for organizations to skill and upskill their workforce at a more rapid speed, with higher quality, and in most cases, lower cost. They assist L&D professionals in supporting learners’ needs more effectively by offering relevant recommendations, making insightful predictions, and delivering constructive interventions.
While it is highly probable that intelligent machines will eliminate many current jobs, their integration into business workflows will create new jobs that require less manual effort. These technologies will take over time-consuming tasks and give humans more free time to hone their creativity, as well as critical and analytical skills.