How L&D Can Get Real About Artificial Intelligence
What is AI?
The term Artificial Intelligence (AI) might invoke futuristic images, but it’s actually part of our present day and more approachable than you’d think. The fathers of the AI field, Minsky and McCarthy, described artificial intelligence as any task performed by a program or a machine that, if a human carried out the same activity, we would say the human had to apply intelligence to accomplish the task. AI can find patterns in big data to learn and show information to deliver solutions to complex problems.
AI is More Than a Trend
There is no doubt that AI is more than a trend. The International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Semiannual Cognitive Artificial Intelligence Systems Spending Guide forecasts that cognitive and AI spending will grow to $52.2 billion in 2021 and will achieve a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 46.2% over the 2016–2021 forecast period. (Source)
How L&D Can Prepare for AI
There are two sides of the coin for L&D as it relates to AI—L&D can leverage AI for its own uses, AND it can help the business adopt AI. Without a doubt, L&D can benefit from diving into this technology.
The thought of AI can conjure images of both excitement and fear. In the age of fast-paced change, L&D can help to pave the way for AI to be successful. There are four factors that should be considered to prepare for AI.
Leadership buy-in on communication. Yes, leadership is the decision-maker in AI, but it’s often seen as an IT-centric project. Working with leadership on agreement of key messages, and potentially the marketing and branding of the AI initiative, will be instrumental in starting the AI journey. Messages that reinforce the role and importance of people in AI projects and continuous information on existing AI projects will help to engage employees. L&D can help with this on a program-level education approach. Helping employees understand what AI is and how it will be used in the business can be an engaging, informational experience beyond an email or presentation. L&D can also work with the business to understand and develop the skills needed to manage AI. This is a tremendous and exciting opportunity to arm your learners with the skillset to move into 2020 and beyond.
Getting your data in order. Having updated information on your learners, such as job descriptions, employee profiles, and performance reviews, makes the job much easier for AI. Ensuring that learning paths are set up can be extremely helpful to AI.
Aligning L&D goals with business goals. In order to make recommendations for increasing skillsets, those skillsets, both current and future, should be directly related to achieving the business goals. In having a proactive discussion about leadership’s vision for the business, if AI is in the picture, it will move fast. Proactively addressing those new skillsets will position L&D as a key partner in moving the business into the future.
Right-sizing your content for AI output. Netflix and Amazon are continuously making recommendations. Imagine recommendations for your learner that can reinforce their learning experience based on their performance on a knowledge check or the time they spent on a specific piece of content. The data that AI generates can provide L&D with insight immediately. In doing so, the same theme stands true—clear outcomes based on learning are critical, and getting down to a micro level can provide a better experience for the learner and a clearer outcome for L&D. This is where the microlearning journey, if you’ve already started down that path, will reap great rewards.
The Role of AI in Learning Metrics & Measurement
L&D metrics and measurements can be a monthly and sometimes arduous process—making sure you are collecting the right data, reporting against the data, and then analyzing and creating plans. AI can help you move through this process instantaneously. It can change the process from monthly to immediate.
AI takes the L&D organization beyond the “who has taken what courses” and dives into “where are learners having challenges?” It can provide the L&D professional with content-specific insight—if it was reviewed more than once, how many times someone had to go through a knowledge check, where content was easily accessed, if the resource PDF was downloaded, and so forth. Why does this matter? Courses usually cover an array of skillsets and being able to identify a challenging skillset can inform suggestions for content or additional courses. When content is broken down to a microlearning level, suggestions to the learner can be flexible—from to a 2-minute video to a 2-hour course. Furthermore, information on suggested content that was accessed can inform potential course enhancements. On the flip side, suggested content that was not accessed may be throw-away content that should be retired and not updated. The insight that AI provides to L&D can increase efficiency while providing talking points with the business beyond level 1 and 2 evaluations.
Where Can L&D Start?
Align with your business on how they are planning to use or are currently using AI. AI isn’t just for IT anymore. Understanding that there are new uses, such as data analysis, allows the business to envision how the L&D organization can help. Go through the four factors to prepare your L&D organization for AI, and get ready for an exciting journey of learning for both you and your learners!