These CXOs wanna go back to school again

Artificial Intelligence
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Bengaluru | New Delhi: A month ago, Tanmay Saksena, chief operating officer of online pharmacy 1mg, became a student again.

He signed up on ed-tech platform Coursera to take the ‘AI For Everyone’ course. Reason? With a lot of information thrown around about artificial intelligence and its increasing importance in business, he felt he needed to educate himself on its applications and limitations.

As AI and other emerging technologies like machine learning (ML), blockchain, and data analytics are increasingly being seen as game-changers to drive new business models and transform workplaces, the focus has subtly shifted from early and mid-career professionals to senior leaders – those with 12-15 years of experience and more –- who are looking to upskill.

The main question on CXOs’ minds is how to align their longterm business strategy with today’s AI capabilities, say experts.

A survey by Great Learning amongst senior professionals with over 12 years of experience showed that around 70% of professionals believe that AI is expected to play a significant role in their organisation’s business roadmap. It further indicated that they are looking for a deep dive into AI theory and tools as opposed to just an overview.

“We are seeing an increasing number of queries from senior professionals for our programmes in data science, analytics, AI and ML,” Hari Nair, co-founder of Great Learning, told ET. “Almost 30% of our learners for these programmes are from this demographic.”

The edtech platform has launched an ‘AI For Leaders’ programme in collaboration with University of Texas at Austin for business leaders who can use the knowledge of data and AI to improve customer interactions and operations. Mentoring sessions by industry experts will help to reinforce a practical approach for concepts.

“We are seeing interest in leaders from services and product technology companies, consulting firms, ecommerce companies, as well as leaders in the automobile, healthcare, and banking sectors, for the course,” Nair said.

Other edtech platforms, too, are noticing growing interest from senior professionals and are tailoring their content.

Earlier this year, Udemy launched executive briefing courses to help senior leaders understand concepts in AI, ML, big data, and blockchain. “Many of our corporate customers are using these courses to learn new skills and prepare their workforce for what’s coming next,” Irwin Anand, managing director at Udemy, told ET. Some of these customers include Wipro and Tech Mahindra, he said.

Udacity has a ‘Thought Leader’ series of webinars, focusing on subjects like digital and cloud transformation for companies. The company has been witnessing a constantly rising number of CXOs showing interest in upskilling themselves in technology, said Lalit Singh, COO.

Recently, Coursera launched the ‘AI For Everyone’ course — which 1mg’s Saksena took last month — to help learners spot opportunities to apply AI to problems in their own organisations. The course has about 1,70,000 enrolled learners, said Raghav Gupta, managing director – India and APAC.

“Now, CHROs are outlining the learning strategy centred around AI not just for their employees but for Csuite as well,” Gupta told ET. The edtech platform has also partnered with a technology company to build relevant courses for over 1,000 managers and senior leaders, he said.

Chaitali Mukherjee, partner and leader – people and organisation, PwC, says the company works with leaders and curates learning journeys for them, which consist of not just classroom learning, but also nano-learning, online courses, MOOCs, and being part of incubators within the organisation.

At companies like Genpact and PayU, the trend of upskilling among senior leaders is apparent.

Recently, Genpact rolled out a learning framework called Genome, to help employees, including CXOs, to assess their skills and undertake self-learning journeys.

“While a CXO’s role will not necessarily involve coding solutions, they are responsible for risk management and ensuring that client solutions are viable. So, they need to understand AI to ultimately drive clients’ transformation journeys,” said Gianni Giacomelli, chief innovation leader. Company leaders are ahead of the pack in the digital skills learning progression with double the uptake rate as the rest of the population, he said.

At PayU, all senior leaders ago through a programme called ‘AI For Growth’, where during three full-immersion days they learn how to leverage AI – sustainably and ethically – to accelerate growth and increase the scaling potential of AI for their business.

“There is a huge curiosity about what impact emerging technologies will have on how companies innovative,” said Udemy’s Anand. Successful leaders are those who can upskill themselves and understand the implications in multiple lines of business, he said.

(Excerpt) Read more Here | 2019-10-22 08:59:00

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