As we slowly come closer to the end of 2019, it’s that time of the year again to look at what ‘was’ and what ‘will be’ in the year to come. Every year brings with it a flurry of new trends, mostly driven by emerging technologies and innovations, which transform employee training just a little bit every time.

With the global eLearning market on a growth trajectory and poised to touch $15.72 billion by the year 2021, it is up to organizations and L&D leaders to get ahead of the curve and start planning and strategizing to leverage the newer learning and learning technology trends for the coming year/s.

Over the next few weeks, we will take a detailed and comprehensive look at what L&D leaders must embrace and what they need to let go of in 2020 and beyond- be it in terms of eLearning, learning delivery, employee engagement, new and emerging technologies and more.

In Part 1 of this series we explored the value in leveraging Big Data, Learning Analytics & Reporting in 2020 and beyond. Today, we explore the role of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in corporate learning.

Role of Artificial Intelligence

It’s about time L&D leaders step up their game and realign themselves with the rapid technology advancements to optimize their training impact, enhance the learning experience, and develop new strategies to take advantage of emerging technologies, especially Artificial Intelligence (AI).

According to Gartner, AI bots will power 85% customer service interactions by 2020, while 20% business (training) content will be created by AI. With the availability of limitless amount of data in organizations waiting for analysis to draw actionable insights, there is no doubt that AI will have a massive impact on L&D.

Today, AI is enabling L&D leaders to offer training content and delivery in ways that was unheard of before. AI can help L&D personalize content to suit learners’ needs by recommending appropriate content, based on learning patterns, style and behaviors and role-based learning, as well as auto-generate learning content in real time. In terms of engagement, AI-enabled adaptive/ personalized learning has the potential to transform employee engagement.

However, it is also important for organizations and L&D leaders to first understand the concept of AI, its advantages as well as limitations, before deriving conclusions on the capabilities presented by the technology.

As part of People Matters TechHR 2019 panel discussion, I had the opportunity to speak about AI and employee engagement– ‘Anything that is measured is data and anything that is data can be processed and analyzed. AI algorithms can be written to make sense of the large amount of learners’ data, which can then be used to combine and analyze data from various systems. Using machine learning, data science and better understanding of learners’ needs and behaviors, real-time and intelligent insights can then be drawn.

Furthermore, a constant calibration and re-calibration of the AI algorithms will keep the analysis relevant and correct. For instance, AI can figure out which employee or team shows varied engagement levels and what areas need more improvement.’

AI-Powered Solutions in 2020 & Beyond

Going into 2020, it is wise to remember that AI is still in a rather nascent stage in its development in corporate learning. Tools and solutions for a wide range of business services are still widely unavailable. Global tech companies are laying the groundwork and readying platforms which can be used to create solutions that use AI, but data still remains the most important part and its analysis in terms of the domain.

Having said that, AI-powered solutions are popping up everywhere in the learning industry in the form of Chatbots, predictive analytics and behavior mapping tools, along with learning content development, training delivery, L&D operations and more.

Today, skills are fast becoming much valued assets in the talent-war to gain competitive advantage. Organizations are feeling the need to leverage varied skill-sets, while the demand for skills itself is constantly evolving. But, adapting to an AI-led workplace isn’t much about more training, but rather, reskilling and upskilling and ‘new’ training. And, AI-powered solutions will play a key role in identifying skills gaps in the workforce, recommend skills training and ensure a future-ready workforce.

Another application of AI is seen in the emergence of Learning Experience Platforms (LXPs). According to industry analyst Josh Bersin, “Today learning is about ‘flow’ not “instruction,” and helping bring learning to people throughout their digital experience,” adding that L&D must focus on ‘experience design’ and ‘employee learning journeys’ and data-led solutions.

Although each organization has its unique training needs and goals, there are few common benefits of leveraging AI-powered solutions in training-

  • Training Content Development

Data-driven learning content development is an emerging AI application in L&D. Content development tools integrated with AI can assist Instructional Designers create content, based on suggestions such as storyboards, text, graphics, etc. derived by the AI to make the learning content more engaging and effective.

  • Training Need Analysis (TNA)

Infused with AI, learning platforms like the Learning Management System (LMS) can leverage its analytics data to make recommendations for training effectiveness by identifying training programs that can be upgraded for better learning outcomes.

  • Natural Language Processing (NPL)

With machine learning and deep learning, AI can understand any and all languages to enable voice-based content creation as well as delivery, making the whole mechanism much faster.

  • Virtual Instructor

AI can be leveraged to offer a Virtual Instructor to learners for simpler courses, while it can work in tandem with L&D professionals to develop complex training materials like certifications.

  • Tracking & Feedback

As data is at the centre of any AI application, collecting learners’ data in the form of surveys, feedback etc. will foster an improvement cycle, where AI will automate the feedback collection process (via a Chatbot), while also providing insights by identifying popular courses and improvement areas.

As we venture in to the New Year, it is important to remember that these are some of the existing applications, while additional use-cases are sure to slowly pop up with AI gaining a greater foothold in more enterprise solutions.

Takeaway

Clearly, the advantages of AI are manifold. However, the key is to approach AI in learning by identifying a specific problem and then figuring out how AI can help with the solution. Businesses as well as the workforce need to show their readiness to be agile and warm-up to AI and automation, and reskill/ upskill to take up advanced roles and responsibilities. More importantly, organizations and employees need to foster a learning culture, maximizing the desire to learn over a lifetime in order to successfully integrate AI in corporate learning.

Next up in the series, we will explore the emergence of Learning Experience Platforms (LXPs) and how learners stand to benefit from leveraging them to reskill/ upskill for the future of work.

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