How Bots, AI and Big Data Will End L&D as We Know It

End Of L&D (1)

The Chatbots Are Here

Messaging apps are taking over. Telegram, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, WeChat and Kik are growing at an unprecedented scale as people abandon the plethora of apps on their phone.

Why fill your phone with ‘one task’ apps when you can do all you need with just one? In WeChat you can hail a cab, pay for it, order wine, send a friend your location and some Bitcoin, and catch up on the news among other amazing things.

New Chatbots launch hourly into these text messaging apps. Together, they become powerful tools for almost any task or use you can imagine. Like learning, for example. In the past, new hires at a company would go through onboarding training. This could typically be a couple of days with a contracted instructor. Now, companies like Freeman use an onboarding chatbot built and delivered via Mobile Coach that saves time and money and gathers data every time new employees use it. And, it’s conveniently delivered right to their phones by SMS.

Over the past year, my focus has been designing training delivered via text messages. Today’s learners are mobile, busy and distracted. I believe that simple, succinct and available anywhere text messages are the way to reach them in a microlearning approach that fits between diapers and dinner. Introduce chatbots into this SMS equation and you’ve got a powerful way of delivering effective training.

How about combining chatbots with AI -artificial intelligence? Then you have a tool that improves itself, and have no need for a designer. And a tool that best fits what the learners need.

AI Used To Be Science Fiction

I had a conversation with Jessica Knox last week. She believes the L&D threat will take years, but I believe it’s much, much sooner. One main reason is AI.

Today, you can take all the learning data you can find and feed it into IBM’s Watson to gather results, insight and feedback you never could before. Now take what Watson gives you and design better, more effective learning. You follow me?

The combination of AI and data changes the game. Why bother with hours of effort spent on needs assessment? Create a learning experience, launch it and then track engagement with any analytics or tracking tool available. Then make real-time changes so that people get what they need, when they need, wherever they need it.

You can fix a script or condition in Mobile Coach or Remind in minutes to provide learners with improved performance support. So, why have an L&D team spend hours on elearning modules that don’t meet the needs of the target audience? (Dare I say it? Why the team when an AI-powered tool can do the job for you?)

Big Data Is A Big Deal

If you want to be a relevant learning and development professional, get digital marketing skills. Stop building learning on SharePoint, Yammer or Slack that no one uses for lack of good marketing. People won’t use what they don’t know exists.

Also take the best practices of digital marketing around data and apply them to your L&D efforts. Connect xAPI,, Google Analytics and more to the designed learning experiences you provide. Stop guessing, assuming and wondering where learners are engaging and disengaging. There’s no excuse anymore not to know.

Gather data and real-time stats to help you provide the best and most efficient learning possible.

1 + 1 + 1 = 3

The equation we have today leads to changes at a scale and pace never before seen nor experienced. We have automated chatbots that train people in the thousands right on their phone anytime, anywhere. We can connect the bots toartificial intelligence, so they learn to help people learn better. And we can track all the data so that a few quick adjustments lead to the best performance support at the right time.

And that’s where we differ from years ago, or even last year. Thus, can your elearning modules still cut it? Are a few days in a classroom the best onboarding experience for your new sales team?

We book a place to stay, hail a cab to get there, and make sure take-out is delivered on arrival all from our phones. On demand, en route and with ease. And yet we still feel people want to learn the same way they did last year, and the years before that. The smartphone is radically altering our consumer habits. We’re crazy to think this won’t change the way people view training and want it delivered.

Years ago, I debated the validity of social media, mobile phones and tech for training. I chose to ride that coming wave rather than fight it. I experimented and brought Twitter, Facebook and my iPhone into the training experience. Today, as a certified chatbot developer and digital marketing expert, I continue to embrace the pace of change and ride alongside it.

I feel we have no other choice. The robots aren’t coming, they’re already here.

Jamie Good is the Digital Fluency Coach. He helps people improve performance through SMS, social media and mobile. He gets excited by the possibilities inherent in digital. Connect with him now to ride this wave rather than be bowled over by it


This a great article Jamie, thanks for pulling it together.

It raises as many questions as it answers, which is why I’ve curated it into the ‘Bots’ level of a year-long MOOC I’m designing and facilitating.

Thanks again.

Thank you Craig and please keep me updated on your MOOC!

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