Four Reasons Why Learning Departments Will Soon Be Disrupted

1) Training materials and interactions will not just be pre-built courses but any structured or unstructured content available to the organization.

As it becomes even easier to create learning content as seen by so many vendors we’ll see the ability to auto-create content from existing sources like Box, Dropbox, Sharepoint and turn any PDF, video, document, existing course, quiz into a trackable object for ongoing tracking and training purposes.Unstructured text, images and eventually video will be trackable by “chunking” them into micro bite courses applying NLP (Natural Language Processing) approaches that pull out the meaning of any text snippet or image. This could mean Slack messages, Salesforce Chatter or even email messages could automatically be used as quick answers to employee questions days, months or even years after they were written.

2) Curating of all learning, employee or any useful organizational content will become a whole lot easier thanks to AI and NLP.

Over the past few weeks, Box.com one of the worlds largest Enterprise Content Collaboration Platforms announced they would be applying NLP to all 30 billion files that they manage for their clients. The main methods currently used for content curation: 1) Social rating – what you experience when using social sites like Facebook by measuring “likes”, shares and votes. 2) Collaborative filtering based on users past actions and 3) Semantic Analysis which understands the meaning of small segments of the content and then applying machine learning analyzes relationships between all these segments for future suggestion or recall of specific content. The third approach, semantic analysis will only grow. A successful example of this is Amazon.com. As a shopper on their site, we have access to millions of book and product SKUs. Amazon uses a combination of all three techniques to position the right book or product to us based on our behavior, peer experiences as well as having a semantic understanding of the product page we’re viewing. There’s no reason we can’t have the same experience on workplace learning systems were all viable learning content/ company content could be organized and disseminated to each learner for the right time and circumstance.

3) Learning disrupted by bots and voice-enabled learning.

This is possible from the above curation capabilities and technologies like Amazon Echo and Google Home’s voice-enabled / AI driven appliances. They point the way for employees to simply “ask” by voice or as a text message and instead of having to exhaustively search for the answer it will be instantly told to them.

4) Learning departments will go beyond onboarding, compliance training, and leadership training and move to training everyone in the company on all job skills. 

Learning and development departments from small to large organizations freely admit they are absolutely pressed for time. They’re responsible for building, buying and curating learning content, managing and running classroom/ group instruction sessions along with administrating the LMS itself and providing reporting and visibility to management. Imagine instead if they could focus only on tweaking and improving the learner experience drawing and working in lockstep with their learning system able to understand the effect of all questions asked and answered and all content viewed? As Kevin Kelly mentioned in his recent TED talk regarding AI and specifically IBM’s Deep Blue AI (Artificial Intelligent) driven chess computer: “When Deep Blue beat the world’s best chess champion, people thought it was the end of chess. But actually, it turns out that today, the best chess champion in the world is not an AI. And it’s not a human. It’s the team of a human and an AI. The best medical diagnostician is not a doctor, it’s not an AI, it’s the team.” This could very well mean that the purview of the learning and development department will be teaming with an AI-driven learning system and go beyond onboarding, compliance and leadership training to all job skills/ team and sales enablement.

About the Author:

Tim Seager is a co-founder and CEO of Feathercap, Inc., a workplace-learning platform designed to make it easy to create and share the skills teams need most.