Smartphone becomes India Inc’s new blackboard
The Blackberry is Corporate India's new blackboard. Since it is difficult to pin down busy employees and bring them to training sessions, companies are guiding them through their mobile phones -the only device accessed round the clock.
At Wipro Technologies, groups of employees will receive training modules in audio and video clips on their phones, which they can access anytime. An analytics team has been appointed to track the modules seen, how many have been watched or heard repeatedly, and even those that the employee has not accessed.
"It reduces classroom hours. Besides, people learn in different ways - not everyone will have a laptop, but almost all employees have a smart phone," says Abhijit Bhaduri, chief learning officer at Wipro. One such pilot project training on personal brand building will start this week in New Jersey, for Wipro's 25 senior employees.
"Most of the senior management employees struggle to find time for desktop or classroom training as they are committed to scheduled work," says Akash Shah, co-founder and director of Deltecs, which provided the mobile-based learning, communication and employee engagement solution.
M-learning, as the new method of training is called, has gained in popularity because of the dearth of trainers as well as the growing need for training. Companies in various sectors are opting for the relatively cheaper option, wherein the client pays the provider an annualised licence fee. While m-learning is not expected to replace conventional training programmes just yet, its greatest advantage is that it can reach out to employees who do not own smart phones.
"Five to six years ago, there was a trend to implement elearning. Though we got some early adopters then, most wanted to wait and see how the concept evolved. Now there is huge demand amongst corporates," says Shah. HIs clients include Wipro, Essar Oil and Energy, SBI and Wockhardt.
Philips India is in talks with companies that customise company-specific content and provide them with platforms through which training their sales team will be possible. Mlearning will be piloted in India by this year-end and if successful, it will be replicated globally, says HR head Yashwant Mahadik. "People update their phones faster than their wardrobe. Before a sales team goes for a pitch, we can send a clipping on the best way to go for the target," says Mahadik.
The impact of the clips can be measured, and zero buffering time makes it easier. Arvind Agrawal, president and chief executive, corporate development and HR, RPG Enterprises is being trained as an executive coach by the International Coach Academy.
All his classes are on the phone, and he is ready to use a similar approach in his company. "Earlier, I wasn't convinced about this concept but having gone through it, I realise the power and effectiveness of the delivery process. It's not a one-way process; it's live and interactive," says Agrawal.
Nearly six months ago, MphasiS tied up with mobile-based online learning company, SkillSoft. "It allows us to maximise commute time and works for people overseas who are not always in the MphasiS network. Stramlining becomes difficult and not everyone can afford iPads," says R Elango, HR head of the Bangalore-based firm.
Using the mobile phone seems an obvious choice for companies in the telecom sector, but Airtel implemented m-learning only last year. In a survey of 16,000 employees, the company found that almost all its employees used Java-based phones and the Blackberry, and accordingly a training application was developed. Tests also showed that employees accessed their mobile phones in the morning, lunch hour and post-work hours.
The team that introduced m-learning started sending their files during these timings, followed by a quiz that had to be answered using the hand-held. "The response was very positive and despite initial challenges, we are customising content depending on the team's requirements," says Vikrant Bhatnagar, head of functional skills development for Airtel.
Even if m-learning does not provide a face connect, it promises to change the way training is conducted, with a generation that connects more easily to technology.
-The Times Of India