HR Gets the AI and ML treatment

by September 6, 2018 0 comments

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”

Benjamin Franklin

On a pleasant Mumbai evening, more than 90 HR and learning and development (L&D) leaders representing a myriad of organizations took the pledge to get involved and learn. The occasion: a very successful program aptly called ‘HR Leaders: Are You Ready for Machine (ML) Learning?’ at Hotel “The Lalit” organized by Stratbeans Consulting in partnership with IBM and PC Quest.


The HR leaders and L&D heads from prominent organizations of Mumbai focused on how the rise of Machine Learning has today revolutionized the future of learning and development. And with an eye on the future, how exactly will Machine Learning transform the learning and development landscape in the years to come? And in sync with that, how can one organization start preparing for the monumental changes in skilling of the workforce today?

The keynote, the different sessions and the panel discussion revolved around Machine Learning Enabled LMS, personalized eLearning content, created with Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality & Simulation features. The focus, as expected, was on how machine learning and Artificial Intelligence are influencing the process of learning and skill development.

“Today the way digital disruptions are happening starting from your mobile, tablets, desktops, it becomes very difficult to attract the attention of the audience. So that is the major challenge for the learning professionals as well as the industry,” confessed BhaskerBhattachaya, Head L & D, Hindalco Industries, while elaborating on the Learning and Development scenario in 2020.

“All of us know Moore’s Law. In the data field, every two years the development has become double and double. So in this manner, are we ageing the learning process at that speed?” quipped Bhattacharya in a lighter vein. Technology has become intrinsic to learning and that has brought its own challenges. Earlier when learning was distinct from technology, people were sent to training programs, but now with technology only what is required needs to be learnt. This customized learning will take further shape through AI and ML tools by 2020. Personalized learning technology would ensure more ‘whatever and whenever’ learning in the future.

RishuMehra, Head -Product and Process Training, Aditya Birla Payments Bank illustrated through his personal experience in his organization on how to measureRoIonLearning Management Solutions (LMS). By recounting his experience of training 12 lakh retailers (most of them ranging from small shop owners to paanwalas), Mehra defined how machine learning plays an important role in online training strategy.

Admitting his indebtedness to tools and solutions from Stratbeans, especially the GoPerform app, Mehra recounted how these helped him measure his principal objectives.

  • Provide banking products and process knowledge to the retailers to inform them quickly and correctly about changes in the process
  • Reduce their dependency on contact centre and sales team to get information
  • Provide on the spot support in their local language to address customer queries
  • Enhance knowledge of the workforce
  • Create micro learning courses accessible through mobile devices

The panel discussion centred around how AL/ML is going to impact learning and skilling. Busting several myths and commonly prevalent misconceptions,the discussion was addressed by prominent HR leaders from marquee organizations includingSahilNayar, Associate Director HR, KPMG, India; HarjeetKhanduja VP/HR, Reliance Jio; Bhaskar Bhattacharya, L&D head, Hindalco Industries limited; Niloy Das, Head L &D,  FedEx Express; Sameer Nigam, CEO, Stratbeans; and Seema P Kumar, County Leader, Developer Ecosystem & Startups, IBM India/ South Asia.

Khanduja emphasized the fact that a need has to be created for learning and it is the job of the assembled learning professionals to create that need. Essentially, that should be the starting point as otherwise most consider attending training or learning programs a drudgery—he recounted the example of the Uber driver who insisted on a 5-star rating as otherwise, the company would send him on a training program wasting his time. Das, while agreeing that AI is going to be the norm for learning in future, however, warned that wisdom needs to be maintained for the advancement of L&D programs.

Nayar emphasized that unless developmental goals and notifications of training needs do not match, training function would at most be looked upon as an unnecessary and irrelevant medicine to be swallowed in the corporate world. Bhattacharya was again in his elements—according to him, the learning industry has to learn from the model of Netflix on how it has managed to capture the mindshare of the entire cognoscenti as well as the proletariat.

Seema Kumar emphasized that while AI was always there, it has now become equipped to handle data coming from multiple sources and channels. That, in turn, is helping students learn in a personalized and customized manner. Last but not the least, Sameer Nigam focused on the growing relevance of CAPS in the field of L&D. C stands for content, especially with ML the content that is becoming very fluid. A stands for analytics whereby mixing ML with the dashboard, one can get derive many useful numbers. These numbers, in turn, can help in P which stands for prediction, which incidentally is the biggest challenge not solved yet. S stands for search on steroid, Google being the perfect silent and intelligent example.

The evening concluded withPrasoon Nigam, CTO, Stratbeans presenting the  L&D Products coming from the Stratbeans stable. These included AI and ML powered Learning Management System for trainers who wish to administer training content online and to view the performance of their trainees online;GoPerform a performance support AI app for disseminating information to the trained employees in the field while serving the customers; AtumTestpad for creating and deploying online quizzes;  Rapid Content Authoring Tools like Articulate Storyline and Articulate 360.  Prasoon also touched upon “Doctor Elearning” a tool which is used for  SCORM Compression for reducing the size of bloated eLearning content for facilitating last mile delivery on mobile networks and editing of published content to upgrade them, thus removing dependence on content vendors.

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