Tuesday, Jul 05, 2022

Indian Companies Reflect Case Of Cobbler’s Children With No Shoes: Global Tech Training Firm

Manish Sharma, COO of Rezolve.ai, speaks to Outlook about how hiring has turned from a global challenge to an all-out war in view of rising demand for tech qualified talent.

AI companies in India have received a boost amid Covid-19 pandemic | Image for representation PTI

The Covid-19 pandemic brought digital technology to the forefront in every aspect of life.  And with that, companies like Rezolve.ai, Moveworks, Atspoke, Aisera, Espressive among others, which provide Artificial-Intelligence-based technology training to corporate, have experienced exponential growth in their business and opportunities.

Manish Sharma, COO of Rezolve.ai has global experience of dealing with employees of top companies in the world. Based on his experience, Sharma feels that the Indian diaspora runs the biggest technology companies globally but back home Indian companies have low levels of technology and digitization - a classic case of cobbler’s children with no shoes.

In an interview with Outlook, Sharma says that business communication platform like Microsoft Teams has reached around 200 million daily active users (DAU) and in view of rising demand for tech qualified talent, hiring has turned from a global challenge to an all-out war.  Excerpts

Q: Since you provide training facilities to the employees of top companies in the world. How forthcoming Indian companies are in making an investment to upgrade the digital skills of their employees? 

A: Hiring qualified and talented employees have turned from a global challenge to an all-out war. Indian Companies have historically relied on more traditional approaches to training the workforce - but this is changing rapidly due to a shortage of qualified talent, changing expectations of workforce and customers and the bottom-line impact of lack of training for employees.

Today, training for employees goes beyond mandatory training to skill development on new tools and technologies. The traditional methods fall short here - you cannot haul the entire staff into a classroom every time you launch new features in a SaaS platform. Indian companies are just starting on this journey and the coming years will see a huge focus on upskilling using new innovative methods.

Q: Do you work for government companies in India also? What’s their attitude for training their employees? Do they want to spend money on these aspects?  

A: We understand the differences between a government company and a commercial enterprise. Government companies have more work to do to upskill people and drive change management - making it easier and simpler using new technology will help.

Q: Do you think HR training to use digital communication tools like MS Team and Zoom has become an integral part of employee training programs?  

When it comes to tools and technology training we are seeing two distinct trends – (a) Democratize learning creation that allows the best users of technology like MS Teams to become trainers and (b) Use advanced AI to deliver learning at scale - use the knowledge resident with the expert and make it available in a platform - so it can be reused without imposing on trainers time

This is not part of the core HR curriculum and probably does not need to be. HR needs to enable this democratization by bringing in next-gen technologies and let their best technology users become the best trainers.

Q: How familiar Indian CEOs and top managers are with digital technology and its uses?  

Indian diaspora now runs the biggest technology companies globally - but we have historically seen low levels of technology and digitization when it came to Indian companies - a classic case of cobbler’s children with no shoes. This is changing fast - the pandemic accelerated it - but the trend was already emerging due to globalization of technology platforms.

SaaS platforms now serve companies globally - so Indian CEOs are able to harness the same technology as anywhere else in the world. There is a shift in viewing technology, not as a cost centre but as a differentiator and source of competitive advantage and this will accelerate. Of course, it helps when senior leaders use the same technology as front line workers - remote work just levelled the field in this context and nothing drives the transformation of technology as a CEO who has just had a taste of what her employee’s face.

Q: What are the common challenges you face when you train employees to use digital communication mediums? 

Traditionally major challenges while training employees to use digital platforms like MS Teams are (a) Not every employee is tech-savvy. It’s difficult for employees from technology deprived backgrounds to catch up to the growing technology. (b) Lack of resources for learning. Many front line employees and field workers don’t have technology infrastructure. (c) Lack of strategy: Only 23 percent of manufacturers worldwide admit to having a corporate-wide strategy for their digital transformation according to the Jabil survey. Company leaders themselves lack knowledge about technology and how to train their employees sometimes. (d) Lack of budget: Small size companies often fail in training their employees for the technological reforms due to added costs of training material and manpower invested in the process. This has now changed and new technology and innovation is working around these problems.

Q: How do you find the learning ability of employees in India when you compare their digitals skills with those from other Western countries?

When it comes to ability Indian employees are on par or ahead of their peers globally. When it comes to prior background and familiarity the field is less level - as employees in many countries have been working in more digitized environments longer.

Q: Does age come in the way of learning or getting familiar with new digital technologies?

Unfortunately Sometimes. The culprit here is that most enterprise technologies are not designed to be easy to use. Older people in India are using Facebook, WhatsApp and phones with a flourish and there is no reason why the same should not be true at work. Good design will make technology accessible for grandfather as an iPad is for a 4-year-old.