Digital Transformation for the Future of Work in India

Digital Transformation for the Future of Work in India

The future of work and the future of learning are converging. The rapid pace at which the world is changing due to globalization and technological advancements is changing the way customers behave, the way competitors compete for those customers and the way businesses operate. The nature of jobs is changing and the skills needed to do those jobs are changing: people need to learn not only once but for the rest of their lives in order to stay relevant in the job market.

India will be the youngest country in the world by 2020 and will have the largest working age population by 2030. Most companies in India are challenged with not only finding new talent but also with closing the widening skills gap within their organizations. These challenges give L&D leaders an opportunity to drive digital transformation as a strategic mission in their organizations.

At a recent conference in Bengaluru, Coursera invited senior HR, L&D and Business leaders from various industries to engage in a discussion on how important it is for Indian companies to digitally transform themselves today. The conference had various sessions including a keynote by Andrew Ng, Co-founder of Coursera; a fireside chat with Jeff Maggioncalda, CEO of Coursera; and Srikantan (Tan) Moorthy, Executive VP of Infosys. Coursera’s Director of India & APAC, Raghav Gupta, presented trends and insights from 30 Million Coursera Learners and Kabir Chadha, Global Head of Customer Success at Coursera, moderated a session with eminent panelists who shared their thoughts on what digital transformation means to them and their organizations.

Digital transformation means:

…’reimagining every business model’ – Shraddhanjali Rao, VP HR, SAP

…’making every employee across the organization digitally aware’ – Anurag Seth, VP, Wipro

…’a mindset change’ – Anupama Nithyanand, MD, Accenture

…’a change in which we deliver everything – Gopal Devanahalli, CEO, MeritTrac

…’survival’ – Selvan Dorairaj, VP, Capgemini


Key takeaways from the conference:

The Internet era is making way for the rise of the AI era.

A classic example of how the Internet era has changed our lives is how we shop. Internet companies moved a traditional shopping mall to a website, used A/B testing to improvise user experience, reduced shipping time and moved the decision making from business units to engineers and product managers. The AI era takes this a step further. By adding neural networks, a traditional internet company now becomes an AI company with completely new job descriptions. However, what we are lacking now is enough talent to make AI a reality in our organizations. Artificial Intelligence has reached a point where it can transform every major industry, but due to the talent shortage, L&D leaders play a pivotal role to ensure that they are equipping their employees with the relevant skills to make adoption of AI scalable and sustainable.

See Andrew Ng’s full session here.

Make learning a recurring activity, as your skills will become defunct every 18 months.

The future of work will be determined by how fast and how well we all can renew ourselves. The onus of ensuring there is constant reskilling and upskilling is not just on the individual learner, but also on the company leadership. Individuals who want to stay relevant in the job market have to create time to learn. Companies who want their employees to stay relevant to their customer needs must to ensure they provide access to learning.

In any organization, a successful learning program has three pillars:

  1. Learning has to be powered through technology – it needs to be accessible anytime, anywhere.
  2. Learning has to be led by leadership – the need to learn needs to be inculcated from top-down.
  3. Learning needs to be tied to metrics – managers need to have a metric to ensure their teams learn constantly.

A strong foundation for these three pillars is to have good quality learning content curated from around the world and embed case studies created by practitioners. This was beautifully summarized by Tan Moorthy as “The teachers are the leaders, the campus is the office and the curriculum is your business�.

See the full fireside chat between Jeff and Tan here.

For India to continue to be the talent hub of the global IT industry, companies need to have effective L&D programs.

NASSCOM, along with BCG, recently released a report which says of the 4 Million people employed in the Indian IT industry, 2 million need to be reskilled. In addition, 2 Million people entering the workforce need to be skilled. This reskilling is needed in 8 domains of emerging technologies including AI, big data, cloud, and robotics. Within these 8 domains, there are 55 new job roles and these job roles will require 155 new skills. This is a massive task for L&D leaders in the country!

Companies with the most effective L&D departments are doing the following 3 things:

  1. Map business needs to the right skills and the right content. Define business needs into a specific L&D program objective. For example, building skills in emerging technologies to staff delivery team members on client projects. Map program objective to specific skills, and to the right content – both by domain and proficiency.
  2. Give learners the best learning experience. Ensure that L&D programs are composed  of high quality content from reputable institutions that is delivered seamlessly on demand, across devices to your employees.
  3. Champion the cause of learning right from the top. By believing in and investing in talent development, senior executives create a culture of learning, enabling managers throughout the company to secure the resources necessary to develop their teams. L&D should be a strategic priority, even when leaders face hard choices about cutting costs. And more importantly, celebrate learning!

What learning model works better: Push vs Pull learning model model or the Individualistic vs Collaborative learning model?

A common theme that came across from our panel discussion was the need to balance a push vs pull approach to L&D programs. Whilst it is important to curate learning programs on the basis of job roles and individual levels in the organization, it is equally important to create a learning mindset amongst employees so they take ownership of their respective learning journeys. Another important insight that was drawn from the discussion was that learning today is no longer individualistic. Peer collaboration is imperative to the success of any L&D program. Organizations have the responsibility to create an environment where employees can apply their learning within their work network.

See the full panel discussion here.

No matter how you define it in your organization, the success of digital transformation initiatives lies at the core of your people and your culture.

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