The age of Artificial Intelligence has arrived and while most of the businesses are focused on how it will affect their operations like R&D and manufacturing, only a few are wondering about the other crucial business areas such as learning & development (L&D). James Paine has pointed out that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is no more reserved to science fiction and is projected to be even bigger in 2019. Gartner, a leading research and advisory company, predicts that AI bots are going to power 85 percent of the customer service interactions by 2020 and lead up to $33 trillion annual economic growth. So, how can you make the most of AI technology to boost your next L&D strategy? It’s a bit tricky and challenging part.
The AI Learning Solutions
How is AI supporting assessment and evaluation of the staff’s vital skills? Firstly, the L&D professionals in the companies need to know what AI solutions are available and how to choose the right one. Using AI, we would be able to extract data easily and quickly through demographics such as gender, age, culture, position in the company, academic qualification and past learning experiences, as well as employee’s behavior, requests, work experiences and needs patterns. AI also makes it easier to evaluate and suggest tailored learning solutions.
L&D professionals must know about AI technology to be able to put forward the right questions to the solution providers and make sure the test user groups reflect diverse perspectives. Many companies say AI would get smarter with time as it is used. Indeed, this is the case, but L&D professionals must ensure the recognition software doesn’t block the creativity or thinking patterns that might need to change. On the other hand, it must reinforce values and cultures and save costs.
In 2018 Training Industry Trends Report, Dough Harward & Ken Taylor stated that through machine learning and AI, L&D can better recognize the learner behaviors and project needs by suggesting and positioning the training material based on previous behavior patterns. Adaptive learning, which is also personalized to the employees, is a powerful means for the companies to engage their workforce. The challenge for learning and development is to make sense of all the available data and leverage the insights for driving business value. Now, we will see how AI learning solutions will be used for L&D in the companies and how factors like kinds of learning solutions and learning styles will be impacted.
The AI’s Impacts on L&D in Companies
- Learning Styles
The biggest impact of AI will be seen on learning styles, which eventually influences the development of the modern learning solutions. An individual’s learning style might be impacted by age, cultural background, and ethnicity etc. and that must be incorporated into the development process. For instance, one of the studies by Wainhouse Research determined small variations in the way different ages like to learn. For example, the people aged 50 or more reported being more interested in mentoring and coaching than other techniques, while millennials seemed to prefer microlearning, with high emphasis on short video tutorials. However, across the board, all people preferred face-to-face training. Contrary to a widespread belief and modern research studies, millennials want face-to-face interaction even more. Part of the reason is the continuous desire for development and learning. As per few studies, one of the most widely reported complaints about the new hires on entry-level designations is that they are unable to learn fast. New hires say that would prefer more hands-on guidance from their peers or managers. The AI doesn’t only help the new hires learn faster but also frees up the L&D departments and managers to offer more face-to-face learning options.
- On-demand Learning
L&D professionals encounter the need to provide instant access to learning and development any time as required. John Bersin writes that employees are usually overwhelmed at their work, and have limited time a week to keep for learning. Hence, instead of creating 2-3 hours of courses that require slow video or animation and page-turning, there is a need to provide on-demand learning and devise content as required.
With various open source alternatives for learning, it doesn’t make sense for the company to make its own virtual platform. However, differentiating the high-quality content that is in-line with the company culture and values is a key skill required here, which makes a case for the company-specific, customized content. AI for on-demand learning offers more speed and enhanced accessibility for both L&D professionals and the employees.
- Customized Learning
If the L&D department in the company doesn’t have a specific solution on-hand, AI platforms can be used. Today, you will find apps for culture, coaching, management and mentoring that are becoming even more sophisticated. AI also helps creating various platforms integrated with self-directed courses for the learners.
- Blended Learning
TechEmegence says that the final objective in the AI-led L&D is to make virtual human-like characters that can think, react, act and interact in the most natural way, using verbal and nonverbal communication. One of the most important things to consider this approach is determining the level of the analytics these characters can deliver. In his post in Training Journal, Rob May says that if you want to succeed when it comes AI-led blended training, you have to understand how your employees learn and when they learn most effectively. Therefore, these virtual human-like characters, rising as another revolution in digital learning, must cope with this challenge. Moreover, the L&D leaders must remember that technology must not replace human interactions, to have a balance.
The increasing penetration of AI in L&D has come at the most opportune time. Gallup predicts that by 2020, millennials are going to be almost 75 percent of the workforce, out of which 85 percent consider professional learning and development the topmost expectation from their jobs. With a higher percentage of the future workforce needing professional development, the companies must start offering the same to attract and retain quality talent. Not just the AI will deliver learning experience at required speed but also quickly evaluate the learning data for re-skilling the learners being made redundant by AI.