The topic on every business leader’s mind in 2023? It’s artificial intelligence.
The launch of OpenAI’s ChatGPT last November brought AI tools to the mainstream, ushering in a new wave of excitement around the potential of artificial intelligence and the myriad of ways it could be used to increase productivity and efficiency. The worldwide AI market is now predicted to grow by $120 billion by 2025, with big hitters such as Microsoft and Google investing heavily in the development of existing and future projects.
With so much buzz in the air, it’s no surprise that 63% of companies plan to increase or maintain AI and machine learning spending in 2023.
Learning and development, in particular, is a field that stands to benefit hugely from the potential of AI tools. In fact, studies have already shown that early adopters of AI and VR for their L&D programs have seen:
- 57% increase in efficiency
- 55% increase in safety
- 52% increase in productivity
- 47% complexity reduction
If you are looking to start incorporating AI into your own corporate training strategy, it can be difficult to know where to start. How can AI be used in a learning and development environment? What are the best practices to enhance corporate training with AI, and what should you be wary of?
Luckily, we’ve done the research for you. Read on to find all the information you need to transform your corporate learning program with AI.
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What is AI, and what does it mean for corporate learning?
Artificial intelligence (AI) is the simulation of human intelligence processes by machines. It makes it possible for machines to learn from experience, adjust to new inputs and perform human-like tasks.
Most AI tools rely on deep learning and natural language processing technologies - ChatGPT, for instance, is an example of the latter.
In practice, AI can assist humans by completing menial administrative tasks, interpreting data, predicting outcomes, and much more.
When it comes to the field of learning and development, AI can be used to optimize the creation, distribution and analysis of corporate training content.
Though many in the learning and development industry are fearful that their jobs will eventually be replaced by AI, experts are confident that this isn’t the case. Instead, they argue that AI should be seen as a useful assistant in the corporate training process.
“Instead of replacing humans in the workforce, AI will complement people skills and redefine the specific tasks that comprise most occupations, increasing opportunity and output for nearly every industry and profession.”
- Tina Marron-Partridge, Global Leader for Talent and Engagement at IBM
Creating effective training programs requires experience and nuance which - as it stands - simply cannot be replicated by a machine. What AI can do, however, is optimize processes and free up more time for your L&D teams so they can focus their energy on the tasks that matter.
The benefits of using AI in corporate learning
When used correctly, AI can offer a number of benefits. Here are some of the key ways in which it could bring value to your corporate learning program.
1. Increased productivity
Studies show that office workers lose a third of their work time to admin duties. When it comes to learning and development, teams are often bogged down by menial tasks and endless data processing instead of focusing on what’s important - building and delivering content.
Introducing AI to assist with tasks that are time-intensive but not high value - such as captioning videos, or even finding the right stock image - gives learning designers more freedom to focus on the bigger picture, increasing productivity and enabling teams to create at a higher volume.
2. More personalization
Too often, learners are inundated with one-size-fits-all training that isn’t relevant or interesting to them. They quickly become disengaged, and the time, money and effort put into creating that training content goes to waste.
Personalization is not an easy thing to achieve manually. With AI, however, this process can be automated at scale. Learners can be served content based on their role, department, or even their behavior within your learning platform, resulting in an experience that is fully personalized to their needs.
3. More intelligent insights
66% of high impact learning cultures (the top 10% of L&D teams) use data analytics to improve the learning experience - yet only 12% of average L&D teams do the same. Why? Because crunching the numbers takes up a lot of time which most L&D teams simply don’t have.
Leaning on clever AI tools to help you process learning data and recognize emerging trends will not only free up resources within your organization, but also ensure that your training strategy is data-backed and optimized for success.
4. Reduced costs
We’ve already touched on how the introduction of AI can automate time-consuming tasks and reduce the need for human intervention, allowing L&D teams to focus on higher-value projects which contribute to your organization’s growth, and ultimately your bottom line. However, AI can also reduce costs in other ways.
While switching to mobile learning immediately eliminates costs associated with classroom-style training, adding AI into the mix can streamline your budget even further. Content generators, auto-translators and the plethora of other AI tools available can help you simplify and scale up the content creation process without needing to outsource.
Another way in which AI can help your bottom line is by identifying inefficiencies in your training program, such as redundant or ineffective content, and helping you to optimize accordingly. More effective training means higher impact, and a better return on your investment.
The limitations of using AI in corporate learning
While there are a number of benefits of using AI to enhance your corporate learning strategy, there are also a number of limitations you should be aware of. Here are a few drawbacks to keep in mind.
1. Ethical considerations
One of the key ethical considerations when using AI - especially in a corporate setting - is the protection of privacy. AI algorithms can process large amounts of data, including personal and sensitive information about employees. Organizations must ensure that their AI systems comply with relevant data protection regulations and are transparent about how data is collected, processed and used.
Another concern with using AI in corporate learning (and beyond) is the potential for bias. AI algorithms are only as good as the data they are trained on, and if that data is biased, the results can be biased as well. For this reason, it’s important to regularly audit AI algorithms and take steps to mitigate any issues that are identified.
2. Legal risks
In addition, using AI for content creation raises legal considerations around copyright. Algorithms are often trained on copyrighted material, and could potentially reproduce that material without proper licensing or permission. To avoid any legal issues, make sure to ensure that the system you’re using has been properly licensed and only uses authorized content.
3. Technical limitations
There is lots of excitement in the L&D space about how AI can revolutionize the way that we work, but many overlook the steep learning curve associated with this new technology. Many employees may not have experience with using AI, and will need to be upskilled on how to use it effectively.
In addition, AI tools may require significant technical expertise to set up and maintain, which could be a barrier to adoption for some organizations.
4. Replicating the human touch
While AI can automate many tasks and provide personalized recommendations, it cannot replace the expertise, experience and nuance that human L&D professionals provide. There are certain aspects of building a training program that require a human touch, and though AI can supplement these activities, it cannot fully replace them.
Though revolutionary, AI tools are a very new invention and still under development. It is ultimately up to you to ensure that AI systems are functioning as intended and producing accurate results. Organizations must be transparent about how AI is being used in their learning and development programs and be prepared to take responsibility for any errors or negative consequences that may arise.
There is a risk of over-reliance on AI in corporate training. While AI can provide valuable insights and recommendations, it is important to remember that it is just one tool in the training toolkit. Companies should not rely solely on AI and should also incorporate other training methods to ensure a well-rounded learning experience.
- Veena K, Head of People Ops at FirstPrinciples
5 ways to use AI to enhance your corporate training strategy
1. Create a personalized learning experience
In a survey by Brightwave, 77% of L&D professionals highlighted personalized learning as vital to employee engagement, but 46% said that establishing effective data analytics was a significant barrier to adopting a more personalized training approach.
AI algorithms can analyze data from previous learning encounters to create clever content recommendations based on the employee’s specific role, learning style, preferences and more - a phenomenon referred to by the Learning Guild as ‘meta-learning’.
Much like the personalization we’ve become accustomed to on platforms such as Netflix, AI can deliver these recommendations instantly and dynamically. By learning from what the user has already done, as well as what they want to do, algorithms can also recommend content designed to help them develop specific skills and progress in their roles.
It’s a win-win: employees are more engaged in the learning process and can instantly see the value of completing training, while L&D teams are given the tools to create high impact training programs that drive results.
2. Automate admin processes
One of the most popular ways in which AI is being leveraged by businesses is to automate administrative processes and free up more time for L&D teams. Research by PwC shows that 44% of business leaders have focused on increasing productivity through automation in the last year.
Natural language recognition tools are particularly powerful in this area, helping to process complex requests and deliver specific data and reports to searchers within a matter of clicks. In a corporate learning setting, this could shave hours off of time spent collating learning data and searching for trends and patterns. With AI, L&D teams can still be equipped with the right data to optimize the learning experience and drive business change, but with more freedom to focus on the bigger picture.
AI can streamline processes through automating administrative tasks like scheduling and data entry, freeing up time for professionals to focus on more strategic initiatives.
- Grace He, People & Culture Director of Team Building
3. Identify and close skills gaps
Nearly half of learning and development leaders say that the skills gap in their organization is widening in 2023, leading to a loss in productivity, barriers to innovation and higher risk of attrition. Keeping up with skills gap analysis can be a challenge for corporate L&D teams who already balance many plates, but AI provides a number of opportunities for support.
Machine learning algorithms can be used to perform skills assessments, analyzing past performance and identifying areas where employees might be lacking certain knowledge. Instead of spending hours analyzing the data themselves, your L&D managers can use AI to identify patterns and trends, and recommend specific courses that are tailored to individual employees’ needs, in a matter of minutes.
Another area where AI can help close skills gaps is performance monitoring. Real-time data analysis can help to identify areas where employees are struggling - perhaps they’ve had some poor customer service reviews, or reported difficulty using a particular software - and provide targeted support.
Finally, AI can use predictive analytics to identify future skills gaps which may arise within your organization. By analyzing trends in the wider job market and the skills that are required for various roles, these tools can help you prepare for potential skills shortages and future proof your operations.
“What I ultimately envision is a self-developing workforce that is guided by AI and other technologies to fill in critical skills gaps and develop key capabilities based on the needs of the business, enabling greater organizational performance.”
- Ben Eubanks, Author of Artifical Intelligence for HR
4. Virtual assistants
Many businesses are faced with the challenge of training and upskilling a widely dispersed workforce, often spread across multiple countries, continents and timezones. Delivering training is difficult enough, let alone finding the capacity to provide ongoing support and coaching.
That’s where AI virtual assistants come in. More popularly known by names such as Siri and Alexa, these application programs are able to understand natural language voice and text commands and complete tasks for the end user. In the corporate learning environment, virtual assistants can be used to guide learners through their training activities, monitoring their progress in real-time and answering content-related questions.
With the help of virtual assistants, learners can be supported at every step of their journey, enhancing the training experience and improving completion rates. Behind the scenes, meanwhile, employers are able to relieve pressure from their L&D teams and respond to more requests, more efficiently.
5. Simplify content creation
There are now an abundance of tools available to L&D teams which can help them simplify the content creation process, from translation and transcription, to text, image and video generators. While it’s not recommended to rely solely on these tools for creating training content, they can certainly help in providing inspiration, streamlining processes and enabling your team to work better and faster.
Some examples include:
- Content generation - tools which analyze your company's knowledge base and auto-generate training content based on specific learning outcomes and criteria.
- Personalized learning paths - tools which recommended specific training modules and activities based on individual learning needs and preferences.
- Natural language processing (NLP) - used to analyse written content and identify key topics and concepts that should be included in training materials.
- Adaptive learning - algorithms which can modify the content and difficulty level of training courses based on employee progress and performance.
One of the most impactful ways in which AI can assist L&D teams is in helping them to transition away from long form training modules to bitesize microlearning. Breaking down topics into 2-3 minute, high impact lessons is proven to improve engagement and boost knowledge retention by up to 80%, yet many organizations are discouraged by the amount of time and effort needed to repurpose existing materials, or even start from scratch.
With AI, you can easily convert long form content into bitesize microlearning experiences at the click of a button, as well as generating learning outcomes cards that employees can access easily on the go.
What is the future of AI in corporate learning and development?
Looking forward, the use of AI in corporate learning and development is poised to become even more widespread and sophisticated. As more data is collected and analyzed, AI algorithms will become more precise and personalized, allowing for more effective and efficient training programs.
However, it’s important to remember that AI is a tool, not a replacement for human learning and development experts. No one understands the nuances of your business better than your people, which is why it’s important to always champion their experience. The recommended approach is to use AI in conjunction with human expertise to create a blended learning experience that leverages the strengths of both.
As technology evolves, so too will the role of AI in corporate training, and companies that stay ahead of the curve will have a distinct advantage in the market.
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