Infosys has always been committed to continuous education for its employees. The global IT business consulting and outsourcing services firm headquartered in Bengaluru, India, has more than 200,000 employees in 87 countries, and they rely on a continuous stream of content and learning opportunities to stay up to date on the latest technology, business and leadership trends. “Everyone who works at Infosys has to upskill continuously,” said Thirumala Arohi, Infosys vice president and head of education, training and assessments in Bengaluru. “It has always been part of who we are and what we do.”
But for years, Infosys’ learning delivery was decentralized, with multiple apps offering a subset of content targeting different employee groups or learning needs, including an app offering just tech training for service delivery people and another for client-facing staff who needed to rapidly review a topic or trend. But in October 2017, the learning and development team decided they needed a more centralized learning platform to keep up with everyone’s learning needs. They envisioned a single destination for learning content where every employee could pursue all kinds of training and managers could see what their people were learning and where there were gaps.
“We looked at what was in the market, but there wasn’t anything that covered our learning experience needs,” Arohi said. So they decided to build it themselves.
The idea came from Nandan Nilekani, chairman and co-founder of Infosys, who spent many years working outside the business on innovative government projects, including deployment of India’s national biometric identification system, said Tan Moorthy, executive vice president and global head of education training and assessments in Plano, Texas. “[Nilekani] recognized that a lot of what we’re doing at Infosys could be scaled to create an anytime, anywhere learning environment.”
Lex Is Born
In April 2018, Infosys rolled out Lex, an open-source mobile platform that offers thousands of courses and pieces of content developed internally and curated from third-party learning content providers. Within the first eight months, 90 percent of the company (180,000 employees) had tested the platform, and more than 10,000 employees now use the platform every day for 30 to 40 minutes, Arohi reported. “We’ve seen a fantastic response, with about one-third of employees using it on their own time at night and on the weekends.”
The learning and development team encouraged early adoption through marketing campaigns, emails and leaderboard challenges for service lines to be the first to complete a certain number of courses or hours. This helped drive early interest in Lex; however, its ongoing success is attributed to the platform’s design and clear links between learning and career development.
The team that built Lex aligned every design decision to four key tenets. First, it had to be convenient — every employee must have access to all content anytime, anywhere, online or off. Second, it had to be relevant to every user’s roles, experiences and career goals. Third, it had to be engaging and fun. Finally, it had to matter in the learning team’s ability to land new projects, meet client needs and gain recognition from management. “It wouldn’t be valuable if it didn’t solve specific user and business needs,” Arohi said.
Spotify for Learning
All of the content offered via Lex is curated to address current business trends and skills that employees will need in the near- and long-term to enable Infosys’ ongoing success. When users enter the platform, if they know what they want to learn, they can search for specific titles or topics and create a learning playlist that they can return to again and again. These searches also deliver a graphic showing courses on related topics. For example, if an employee searches for a course on machine learning, the graphic will include related courses on artificial intelligence and natural language processing. “This way the learner can figure out what other content will be relevant to their interests,” Moorthy said.
If users aren’t sure what they want to learn, the platform offers an AI algorithm that make recommendations based on a user’s role, past training, professional interests and courses that other people with similar roles or interests have taken. For users who have no idea what training to consider, a central navigation feature provides access to learning road maps that are linked to specific roles and project types to guide their learning journey. Users can also click the “Build on What You Know” button for instant suggestions of what else to try.
These guided learning tools are helping Infosys employees expand their knowledge base and identify learning paths that will help them move into new roles or better meet the needs of clients, Arohi said.
For example, Jennifer Darkazalli, associate engagement manager for Infosys in New York, first used the platform to learn about agile project management and open-source software. “These were hot topics for our clients, and I didn’t understand them as well as I felt I should,” she said.
After completing those courses she was hooked, and she now uses the platform roughly five hours a week to enhance her knowledge and stay up to date on business and technology trends that are of importance to her clients. “It’s so user-friendly because it was designed with the user in mind,” Darkazalli said.
She now has a playlist of courses that she accesses every morning and afternoon on the subway, which range from traditional sales training to content on supply chain management, manufacturing automation and financial technology. “It’s like Spotify for training.”
However, her favorite feature in Lex is the live broadcasts by company leaders, which can be watched on any device. “Even though we have 200,000 employees, it feels so personal,” she said. “It’s almost like being with them on FaceTime.”
You Gotta Learn to Earn
For employees on the tech side of the company, Lex offers the option to use Lab on a Cloud, which is a virtual development site where learners can instantly access any software to practice a new skill, rather than having to acquire and download the software to their own computers. “It makes all the difference in their ability to learn,” Moorthy said.
Once users complete courses or a predefined set of content, they receive digital tags indicating certification, which they can display on their social profile for peers and managers to see.
“It is how we choose people for new engagements,” Moorthy said. Creating a culture where managers seek out staff for assignments based on their learning profile has been a key component to the success of Lex. “Learning has a shelf life, and if our people aren’t using those new skills on an engagement, no one benefits,” he said. Because employees know that learning is a factor in these project decisions, they can see the direct relevance of learning to their continued career development.
It also creates a culture of competition, where learners see what their peers have accomplished and it motivates them to do more, Moorthy said. “It’s pushing people to seek out more learning so they can be a part of exciting projects.”
That excitement is translating into new business for Infosys. Moorthy noted that the company has seen growth in digital revenues as more employees take courses on these technologies and are thus able to take on new projects. In September 2018, the company also launched Wingspan, a commercial version of Lex that the company now offers to clients who want to leverage the benefits of the learning platform. “It’s an easy way for large and midsized companies to get their employees excited about learning,” Darkazalli said.
Moorthy agreed that having a single source of learning content with a user-friendly interface and guided learning paths is vital in today’s fast-paced economy. “Technology evolves so quickly, if you have a distributed workforce you need a single place where they can access learning.”