Developing Tech Leaders Of Tomorrow

by Sohini Bagchi    Jul 13, 2015


Skill development and talent retention are the top staffing issues today. John Ambrose, Senior Vice President of Strategy and Corporate Development at Skillsoft explains how empowering and developing executives with the right tools and competencies is critical to engaging, motivating, and retaining talented employees.

Skillsoft has been present in India for over a decade now. What are some of its keyofferings in the market that benefits the learning and talent development industry?

For years, Skillsoft has offered comprehensive range of content to help organizations and employees improve a broad range of skills spanning business, desktop, compliance, IT, leadership and development. Recently, we acquired Vodeclic, a leading provider of more new generation video courses,significantly expanding our digital productivity skills library.

Our personalized, multi-modal learning content is spans various forms such as courses, videos, simulations, books, live events, virtual labs etc. so as to cater to individual learning preferences. With the acquisition of SumTotal Systems, we are able to offer a flexible, fully-integrated talent management solution, with Skillsoft content directly embedded, to help expedite employee time to proficiency and productivity, and to help organizations make better decisions about their people.

According to IDC’s Worldwide and U.S. Human Capital Management Applications 2014–2018 Forecast, the talent management market is growing exponentially, with the global market anticipated to exceed $5 billion by 2018. What emerging global trends do you foresee enabling/contributing to this growth in the next three years?

Globalization and the rise of mobile devices are creating “always-on” organizational cultures that put more demands on employees. Couple this with increasing generational diversity in the workforce and that complexity increases. , Today’s workplace spans four generations, each with a diverse set of experiences, behaviors and expectations. Organizations can no longer think about employees as a homogenous group with singular interests and motivations. Similarly, organizations can no longer rely on traditional, static employee development programs if they want to remain competitive.

Today’s workforce requires employers to deliver dynamic and personalized experiences, in the moment, to help employees get better at their jobs. Millennial workers are especially demanding when it comes to their workplace. Not only are they interested in how socially responsible their employers are, they place a high premium on workplace culture. Millennials also want to interact with their workplace technologies and tools the same way they interact with technology outside of work – through a personalized, intuitive user experiences, Organizations must put their employees, not technology, at the center and deliver personalized experiences that engage and empower them to achieve their career goals.

Today, a career is about much more than job stability. It’s about opportunity, transparency, growth and personal fulfillment. Employees want to guide their own future and be empowered to reach their goals through open lines of communication and the right tools. To hit that moving target for people, organizations have to build on their culture with technology that empowers employees to drive their own development, improve job performance and advance their careers.

Which major verticals does Skillsoft operate in? Who are your major clients? Could you share some of your major success stories in India?

Skillsoft provides solutions to organizations across various industry verticals such as IT, ITES, manufacturing, media & communication, BFSI, telecom, retail, logistics, transportation, FMCG, healthcare, pharmaceuticals, biotech, hospitality, eCommerce, automobiles, chemicals, steel, engineering, infrastructure and more.

Some of the well-known clients that we operate in across verticals are TCS, MphasiS, Asian Paints, Cognizant, Tata Motors, Gujarat Gas, United Breweries etc. In addition, SumTotal customers span 23 industries and 160 countries. 

Skillsoft recently acquired SumTotal Systems which is a talent management company. What can we expect from a content provider and solutions provider coming together?

Skillsoft recently announced the latest release of Talent Expansion, the first solution delivered together by Skillsoft and SumTotal, which allows users to access Skillsoft’s more than 60,000 IT, leadership and business content assets spanning multiple modalities directly from within SumTotal’s talent and learning processes. By combining the contextual recommendation capabilities delivered by SumTotal with Skillsoft’s competency-aligned content assets, customers have access to a highly-personalized solution that knows what learning actions to deliver based on the skill and competency they require to drive employee enablement and team performance, leadership development and succession planning.

By embedding Skillsoft’s rich content directly into the SumTotal Talent Expansion workflows and processes and extending Skillsoft’s patented search capabilities into those processes, we are allowing employees to interact seamlessly – in whatever modality is most effective for them – with the information they need to do their jobs better, grow their skills faster and progress in their careers.

From an employee perspective, this user experience and immediate access to information translates into increased engagement and job satisfaction, which drives greater talent mobility and career progression. For the business, stronger employee engagement reduces turnover, accelerates innovation, increases competitive advantage and drives higher organizational agility and performance.

Skillsoft has made a few noteworthy acquisitions over the past year. What is the roadmap for Skillsoft in the next 3-5 years?

To stay competitive, businesses have to do everything at lightning speed. They have to rapidly innovate, disrupt their markets, build unique organizational cultures, cultivate a pool of key talent – the list is overwhelming. At Skillsoft, our goal is to help improve an organization’s performance by improving the performance of their people.

To deliver on this promise we’re making investments in big data analytics and personalized learning recommendations; contextual delivery of talent management information and processes; a seamless, consumer-grade user experience; on-demand mobile accessibility ; and globalization of our content, continuing to expand the languages and regional data included in Skillsoft courses.

Over the past one year, Skillsoft and IBM research have collaborated to harness the potential of big data in enterprise learning and development. Could you share how learning experiences can be customised to users’ preferences to drive next-generation adaptive learning and integrated development? What have been your noteworthy findings?

IBM Research’s big data analytics and natural language processing (NLP) technologies are being applied across Skillsoft’s trillion+ user content interactions, job roles and talent profiles and over 60,000 content assets, including rich text and video, and open knowledge bases like Wikipedia, to generate hyper-personalized learning paths. These goal-based learning recommendations are constructed and dynamically sequenced, based on historical content consumption and the semantics of a large number of courses and learning goals, to optimize employee engagement, knowledge retention, and performance.

These capabilities support our customers in evolving into “self-developing organizations.’ During a preview of the our next-generation platform at Global 2015 Skillsoft Perspectives, we showcase how the more users interact with the system, the smarter it becomes about who an employee is and how that employee learns, providing a dynamic, personalized learning plan that can help employees improve their performance and achieve their maximum potential. A real-time analytics engine continually correlates and quantifies the business impact of each learning interaction to identify the learning experiences that are having the greatest impact on business performance.

The results of our pilot program revealed that empirical, data-driven learning experiences were able to distinctively enhance learner engagement.In the first phase of the project, IBM’s data scientists analyzed user usage patterns, and historical content consumption to build algorithms that would automatically deliver personalized learning recommendations via email to a test group of Skillsoft users. The quality of these recommendations was measured through user feedback, email response statistics, and users’ performance in the courses. In the feedback gathered, 90 percent of users stated that one or more recommendations was useful to them; and there was a 128 percent improvement in engagement, as measured by users’ interactions with the content – how frequently they accessed it and how they performed in the courses.

India has seen a rise in the number of start-ups and SME’s. How do Skillsoft’s offerings address this segment in the India?

One of the most significant benefits and differentiators of Skillsoft cloud-based solutions is scalability. Our solutions can accommodate organizations of any size. The flexible learning and development content and the highly configurable talent management suite allow smaller organizations to make adjustments as their business grows. Skillsoft also offers SME focused solutions such as Skillsoft Select and Skillsoft Select Plus that cater to the learning needs of SMEs. Skillsoft Select and Select Plus include over 300 courses from business, IT and desktop collections. Skillsoft supports the need for on-demand training that is always accessible and easy to implement and use with limited training staff.