A joint report by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion and the Department of Telecom, predicts that the contribution of India’s mobile industry to its GDP will be 8.2% by 2020 as compared to 6.5% in 2016. The same report also points out that India will see an increase in adoption of 4G services with number of these connections likely to grow to 280 million by 2020 from just 3 million in 2015. The number of smartphone users in India is expected to reach almost 468 million by 2021, according to Statista.com. A report by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), says Internet penetration in Urban India grew by about 4.2% and in Rural India it grew by about 2.2% in the time period of one year upto December last.
All of these statistics simply reiterate the already established point that – mobiles are ubiquitous and smartphones are an inseparable part of the life of a majority of Indians. Incidentally, a large part of this number is made up of people who form the workforce of the country. Naturally, for a workforce that’s this multi-device and mobile-friendly, their learning needs will also be mobile. The global mobile workforce is set to increase to 1.87 billion people constituting 42.5% of the global workforce in 2022, as per reports. Although this is not specific to India, there is no denying that the mobile wave has hit India’s work culture too and is steadily impacting everything within it, including (and not limited to) nature of work, manner of functioning and most importantly learning needs.
Why Mobile Learning is a must-have
Mobile Learning or mLearning is an aspect with a multitude of scope in a market like India. World over, Mobile Learning is being looked at as not just a ‘good-to-have’, but a ‘must-have’ option. It has become an integral part of the future of workplaces, thanks to technological innovations, new learning models, lower cost of mobile devices, and the multi-device boom. Reports say that the global mLearning market will grow from $7.98 billion in 2015 to $37.60 billion by 2020, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 36.3%. And why not, considering mLearning offers incredible potential and is shifting the way in which learning is delivered as well as accepted in the corporate world. We had written about the (Real) Mobile Learning Trends for Workplace Learning.
Mobile Learning is all about anywhere, anytime learning and it allows learning to be consumed at the exact point of need. It creates an environment where people can constantly access all kinds of training or learning material as and when needed.
Besides, mLearning encourages both voluntary as well as active learning. It has got a lot to do with the idea of combining learning with personal communication and digital interaction. It is also considered to provide the ultimate form of learner engagement, since it allows learners to learn, access and interact with important content in any way or at any time or place they want. MLearning makes use of concepts like Gamification, Microlearning, Interactive Videos etc which help in increasing engagement and deliver a better learning experience.
Why India provides the perfect setting for Mobile Learning
India has a large workforce that works remotely — from their own homes, from coffee shops, or any other locations that spell convenience. In fact, according to a recent IWG study on flexible working attitudes, around 58 per cent office-goers in India work remotely at least once a week, indicating that flexible workplace is now more prevalent than ever. The same report says that in India more than half (53 per cent) work remotely for half of the week or more, while more than one in 10 (11 per cent) people work outside of their company’s main office location five times a week. For the learning needs of a workforce like this, mLearning is the perfect solution because it permits these employees to access important learning material without having to be bound to one place.
Another aspect about India that provides the perfect setting for Mobile Learning is the Internet connectivity in the country. Despite all the digital initiatives, internet connectivity is an issue in India. According to a list prepared by mobile analytics company OpenSignal, 4G download speed in India is the slowest across 88 countries spanning six continents. Shaky Internet connectivity or sometimes no connectivity at all are not new in India. According to a 2016 CNN Tech report, India had nearly 900 million people who did not have access to the Internet. Currently too, while there are a few public Wi-Fi spots, broadband and Wi-Fi connections even in urban areas come with erratic speed. Mobile Internet connections often do not perform on the speed and coverage promises. The report quotes a spokesperson for the Internet and Mobile Association of India as saying that, “Across India, the connections are patchy. 3G normally works at the speed of 2G.” There are also other logistical issues like no internet connectivity in aircraft, in remote locations, rural areas, etc. This is where the idea of Offline Learning (a feature of Mobile Learning, especially seen in Mobile LMSs with Offline support) fits in. Offline Learning allows learners to download the training resources of their choice on their mobile devices, at the time when access to Internet connection is available. They can then access these resources, as many times as they wish to, as per their convenience, while in an aircraft or in a remote area with no Internet connectivity. This is also a great feature for a busy employee who often finds it difficult to complete training in one sitting. We had written about Mobile LMSs with support for Offline (no Internet) learning in one of our earlier blog posts – Dawn of the Mobile LMS: Research Insights.
The current scenario
For a market like India then that presents such a vast opportunity with its increasing smartphone usage and internet penetration, it only makes sense for companies to leverage the prospects. There is much that can explored when it comes to mLearning and India, but companies are perhaps still just about warming up to the idea. According to a study last year by Cloud and virtualisation software services provider VMWare, over 70 percent of the Indian enterprises were still in the nascent stages of adopting solutions to enable a truly mobile workforce. This does not in any way mean that there is no positive development in the sphere. In fact, to cater to a very fast growing mobile workforce in India, telecom giant Vodafone partnered with a field-force management application vendor to launch the Mobile Workforce Essentials service in India. A PWC report says that 79% of Indian CEOs feel that technological advances will transform their business over the next five years and 65% are investing in or have concrete plans of investing in technological upgrades.
But there is more that needs to be explored for this vast market when it comes to mLearning because mLearning opens up a legion possibilities in learning. The average mobile internet user in India spends almost 70 per cent of the time on apps like Facebook and WhatsApp, and music and entertainment apps. Organizations can and must make the best of this time that Indians spend on the Internet to provide them with the most superlative learning opportunities that Mobile Learning offers.
If you are looking for an Online/ Offline Mobile App to complement your L&D interventions, then request for a demo of UpsideLMS Mobile, our online app, and UpsideMOVE, our offline mLearning app now!