Elaborating on this move, says Sify head corporate e-learning VM Kumar: Very few Indian companies have rolled out e-learning at an enterprise level. Several large companies across industry sectors have initiated e-learning pilots in certain parts of the organisation and are looking at issues of acceptance and effectiveness of these initiatives before moving further.
According to Mr Kumar, being a small initiative at this stage, it is typically owned and driven by HR or training departments. The level of involvement of other managers such as business heads and other functional heads is rather low, which itself is possibly slowing down the rate of adoption of e-learning in organisations.
The entire initiative will, therefore, start with standard learning content in specific topics (IT skills and soft skills), and once usage picks up, the organisation will look at basic administrative platforms like Learning Management Systems. In certain corporates, there could also be a blend of self-paced courses along with live instructor-led training programmes that use virtual classroom tools, which in turn help them conduct interactive instructor-led training.
Explains Mr Kumar: Once they have administrative platforms in place, then corporates could get better ROI on these investments using custom-developed courses that can be delivered on the same platform, which they either build on their own or outsource to vendors. However, the major challenges that corporates confront are addressing the change management issues involved, marketing of e-learning within the company and creating communities of practice among other things.
Through such consultancy initiatives, the company is also looking to render clear-cut deliverables to clients. However, the company affirms that at an enterprise-level, the e-learning initiative can deliver benefits, but only over a period of time. This can put pressure on the people trying to drive these initiatives and also delay management commitment of funds, reasons Mr Kumar.
The other challenge in such an initiative is the task of integrating HR with the business strategy for mainstream corporate establishments. Although e-learning is considered to be an opportunity to integrate HR with mainstream business strategy, in most companies e-learning is an initiative thats confined merely to HR or the training department. Therefore, the level of integration with business strategy becomes pretty weak, explains Mr Kumar.
As a solution to these challenges, the company would be recommending e-learning as an initiative to be undertaken by business or sales heads. And once the buy-in at the business level is achieved, the company claims that it would be easy to gain acceptance for the initiative across the entire spectrum of the organisation.
HR can only be a facilitator in such an initiative rather than an owner, he sums up.
Says Consultancy for Organisational Solutions Ltd associate consultant Ravikant Raju: The fact is many corporates are yet to deploy a globally competitive model of e-learning in their organisations. And with the initiative not being developed internally, taking up consulting engagements with corporates may be a risk-prone proposition.