Focusing On The Bigger Picture
"It is a golden era for topics that have been in talks for the last 15 years, in 2006 we were talking about Blended Learning and now is a golden period for that (initiative). This (L&D boom) will be beneficial for both our company’s operations going forward and the customers (here: the employees) who interact with us.”
In a discussion moderated by Ashima Ohri, Managing Editor of BW Legal, industry experts Nitin Thakur Head of L&D at Jindal Stainless, Pankaj Khandewale the VP & Head of Training at Future Generali India and Carmistha Mitra, CLO of Axis Bank, deliberated on the progress of LMS and the double-edged sword of technology in the realm of e-learning.
Companies that invest in comprehensive employee training have consistently proved through historical and statistical evidence to record higher income per employee and higher profit margins as it upgrades or enhances the underlying employee skill-set. A black swan event like a pandemic has given many companies time to look back and delve deeper into their learning and training programs to effectively equip employees in their downtime. The growth spurt of e-learning programs attests to the urgency of flexible and comprehensive learning solutions that are technologically adept and not dependent on geography and a work-place setting.
“I think everything has changed a lot when we talk about the L&D function. It has become easier for L&D to sell the business case now and it has become easier to adapt to the change as there is no choice now. It is a golden era for topics that have been in talks for the last 15 years, in 2006 we were talking about Blended Learning and now is a golden period for that (initiative). This (L&D boom) will be beneficial for both our company’s operations going forward and the customers (here: the employees) who interact with us.” Nitin Thakur explained.
Pankaj Khandewale adds, “Even with the first lock-down when businesses had realized that their transactions with customers would take more time, the focus quickly shifted to learning. Social media platforms were also alive with L&D vendors who became active on platforms like Linkedin. These people (L&D vendors) were constantly connected and were proposing various new tools making L&D a strategic point so that companies could utilize the time available to the employees that were otherwise spent on aspects like commuting.”
While acknowledging the change of times and accommodating technological advancements, the question of choosing the right delivery partner is one of great importance. It was agreed unanimously that the answer was rooted in comparative analysis and to be scientifically approached in terms of what best suits the organization. Thakur commented “There is no one size fit all but rather an initiative of personalization…our company is in manufacturing so we deal with a scale of 15,000 people, some of whom are contract, part-time, management cadre and further on. And all of them have different needs.” He believes that technology has been instrumental in terms of tackling such a large scale. He also added that the larger fight is with ignorance and hence, it becomes necessary to adopt technology that will speedily help them usher in an ecosystem that fosters learning.
Khandewale further expounded that factors like how well the LMS system can engage and communicate with its target audience were critical. He marks how conveying an idea becomes as important as having the idea at all. Technology has afforded the ability to reach a larger population in a relatively shorter time-span. He continues to add that adaptability in terms of how fast the system can adapt to the environment of your industry and scalability are important factors to note. He explains that it is integral to choose domain expert Learning Management Systems. He finally added that the level of integration offered by a system to provide real-time data analytics will go a long way in building better user experience.”
Contrarily, Ms Mitra offered that it would be impossible to have your cake and eat it too unless you make it. “What I’ve noticed in companies of larger scale is that they are creating their own on LMS They have the funds, the tech and digital support and it is the ideal solution. However, that might not be affordable to all” She proposed that if a company is looking to achieve their expectations while outsourcing LMS then they should choose one that is agile enough to allow them to add layers to it. One that can be enhanced with AI, data science and digital content additionally.
As closing remarks, the panellists were asked what their expectations and suggestions were for LMS going forward. Thakur conveyed that he is not only looking at online learning but also online project guidance and enabling the career trajectory of his customers (the employees).
Following this, Khandewale threw light upon how LMS should also focus on user experience. The vital question he asks is whether the technology being used is capable of bringing out the joy of learning without fazing the users who are not necessarily technologically upbeat. He believes the heart of learning content should be on the message as opposed to focusing solely on the medium of delivery. He succinctly surmised, “the users mustn’t be distracted by the packaging while reaching for the message (within)”
In her closing remarks, Mitra maintained that LMS tech partners weren’t thinking big enough. Going beyond creating content, the focus should be on content management, reporting, content authoring and integration with various digital platforms like Zoom and Microsoft teams that are being used. She also noted how many LMS partners struggle with mobile-based apps which will be the need of the hour in a progressively mobile world. She concludes, “LMS can become the one-stop digital solution, supporting even webcasts. We just need to think bigger”