“In Next 5 Years, “Learning” Will Be Tightly Integrated with Talent Development Strategy of Organisations”

It was 2004. She already had 2 intense design projects running, but was thrown the challenge of developing a curriculum approach, design and workflow for a team of 10 instructional designers for a K12. Three movies, four meals and 21 hours of brainstorming and non-stop design work later, she had a working solution.

Meet Nupur Avantika. An artist, avid traveller, wide-eyed child at heart, Nupur is a leader in the field of instructional design, an innovator in design thinking and currently the Vice President of Learning Delivery at Indecomm Global Services.

With 18 years of experience in designing learning solutions, collaborating with global organisations, and mentoring teams, Nupur is widely acknowledged as a passionate designer who brings to bear the full force of her education and diverse range of experiences to constructing solutions that are learner-centric. Back in a corporate role after a short sabbatical that saw her baking, sketching and traveling extensively (including a sojourn in the Himalayas in Spiti, Himachal Pradesh), Nupur speaks her mind on learning matters in this free-wheeling interview. Excerpts:

1. Where do you see the eLearning industry heading in the next 5 years (by 2021)?

I would call it Learning industry rather than eLearning industry. I think “e” is just one of the ways of implementing learning/performance interventions. I think in the next 5 years, “learning” will be very tightly integrated with the talent development strategy of the organizations. So the learning companies would have to provide services and solutions aligned to an organization’s talent hiring, onboarding, and development strategies. Essentially solutions that are not event-based but are continuously evolving processes. The learning companies would have to gravitate from the current approach of providing piece meal solution to providing more holistic solutions that will enable organizations to grow their talent. In terms of delivery methods, of course, mobile would become one of the primary medium of disseminating learning and performance support along with expert-led classroom/virtual classroom workshops.  

2. What are the three trends that you feel will shape the learning industry in the next two years?

i. Mobile-based learning and performance support

ii. Tools that will enable organizations to create and disseminate micro-learning nuggets. (Primer by Google is a good example of micro-learning nuggets)

iii. Gamification

iiii. Expert-led workshops

Though there is a lot of R&D and experiments happening in the VR and AR space but for it to become mass will still take some time.

3. Which are the top three companies in the world to watch for innovative design?

I think “innovative design” is a very broad term. The usual suspects in innovation are the following three:

i. Apple;)

ii. Google

iii. Amazon

I am also following ‘frog’, especially froglabs. There are some in the healthcare sector as well.

4. What role do you see Indian companies playing in the global eLearning industry?

I think Indian companies will have an equal stake in the global learning industry due to their unique experience of working with organizations across the globe for more than a decade now and the availability of the vast talent pool.

5. In your opinion, are Pune companies abreast with global trends?

The very fact that most learning companies in Pune are in business and are serving global organizations suggests that Pune learning companies are abreast with the global trends. Today you cannot have a global customer base if you are not keeping up with the current trends in the space.

6. What are the challenges facing eLearning companies based in Pune?

The talent pool is getting fragmented across multiple smaller companies. And most of the companies are stuck or peaking at a point. Another critical factor is the rising cost of operations. Also, I think most of the companies are “revenue” driven rather than driven by the passion for the learning space. If the focus is the other way around, revenues will automatically follow.

7. In your opinion, what will it take for a Pune-based company to break into the Top 10 of eLearning design or service providers in the world?

I think a few of them are already in top 20 list in some way or the other. But none of them is doing anything drastically different from the other. For any of them to get to the next level they need to disrupt their operating model, invest extensively in R&D and talent development initiatives.

8. Do you feel Pune is an effective cost base in terms of value for skills for an eLearning company compared to Bengaluru, Mumbai, Delhi, and Chennai?

Cost effective in comparison with Bengaluru, Delhi and Mumbai but not in comparison to Chennai I think.

9. In your opinion, do you think Pune can attract top-flight talent – most design talent in Indian eLearning seems to gravitate to Bengaluru and Mumbai.

It can. It would totally depend on the status and culture of the company. As a city Pune has its little charms that are still attracting people to the city.

10. In your opinion, why is Pune unable to produce more companies that create world-class eLearning products (software, mobile)? Most companies in Pune are in bespoke services.

I think developing products requires a lot of investment which the companies are not ready for. Though many have developed award winning products but have not been able to monetize them.

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