The E-learning Boom Is Here!

by Sohini Bagchi    Jan 09, 2006

Companies across verticals are increasingly turning to e-learning to deliver custom-built solutions to meet their training requirements. With Wipro, Satyam, Accenture, Convergys, ING Vysya Bank taking a lead in this space and more joining the bandwagon, CXOtoday finds out if e-learning is fast becoming the preferred mode of content delivery.

According to IDC forecasts, the e-learning market, which was about $7 billion in 2004, is likely to witness an exponential growth and touch the $28 billion mark by 2008. The global market for corporate E-learning will grow nearly 30% compounded yearly over the next four years.

As Anil Chhikara, CEO - 24×7 Learning pointed out, with enterprises expanding at break-neck speed and ramping up their capacities and employee skill levels, e-learning remains the only viable option to achieve that in the shortest time possible. Accordingly, 8 out of 10 Indian companies are actively looking at implementing e-learning within their organizations.

However, the concept of e-learning was at an embryonic stage in India even five years back. The concept in fact came in vogue at the turn of the millennium. So what are the factors driving e-learning among today’s enterprise?

“One obvious reason is the wide reach of Internet and ever increasing bandwidth. Courses were developed that could be dispensed from the Internet,” said Antony Joseph, Director, Vega Information Systems.

Besides, factors such as consistency, cost effectiveness and easy access allow the delivery of knowledge and information at an accelerated pace, he felt.

Currently, most e-learning courses are Macromedia Flash based, as it provides a rich multimedia platform. Poplar software tools like Captivate and Breeze allows one to communicate, collaborate and train online with ease.

Shriram Krishnamachari, Country Manager, Macromedia India, feels that the entry of Macromedia into the enterprise segment has been a step up for the enterprise community. The newest version of its presentation server and application framework Macromedia Flex 1.5, enables enterprise development teams to deploy more effective interfaces on critical business applications.

Another area where e-learning is witnessing a boom recently is in the BPO and ITeS industry. To facilitate e-learning for the trainers in the BPO and
ITeS industry, Pune-based Harbinger Knowledge Products has the Rapid
Interactivity Authoring (RIA) tool, which allows users to adapt a unique library of instructionally sound high-quality customizable interactivity models to suit their training courses. The tool offers techniques that are normally required for developing content for training in IT and BPO companies.

Similarly, Gurukulonline’s recent web conferencing solution - eMeet is also an innovative move by the company to address the demanding market.

However, the biggest growth and adaptation inhibitor is not lack of solutions or their quality, but the need for an internal change management. At the same time its penetration has not been phenomenal in all sectors in the country, cautioned Joseph.

This is especially true for the government sector, where e-learning is still at a budding stage. However a private-public-partnership (PPP) is taking e-learning among government employees to greater heights lately.

A very recent example is the Government of Karnataka’s collaboration with Intel on launching ‘Gyanodaya’ a government assisted PC purchase program aimed at encouraging e-learning among state government employees to bridge the digital divide and help them work more efficiently. Other corporate bigwigs such as HP, PCS, HCL, and Microsoft are also all set to promote this initiative. Similar initiatives have been taken in Delhi and Uttaranchal.

E-learning in India is and will thrive in various segments where it is seen as a means of achieving business goals and motivating employees, feel experts. However Vikas Joshi, chairman and MD, Harbinger Knowledge Products, cautioned, “Deploying e-learning in an organization goes beyond the introduction of online courses. It requires a change in mindset.”

“It must be marketed to employees and it needs a spur from the top management. E-learning vendors should also have a deep understanding of the Indian market in order to address the growing needs for a customized offering that bridges the cultural factors,” he summed up.

With providers of e-learning tools witnessing phenomenal business growth, experts have predicted that the e-learning market is going to get only better and bigger in the time to come.

Tags: elearning