Otto is here to boost your Workplace Performance
01 October 2018 by Paul McElvaney

Organisations have long realised that there’s a gap between what’s taught at training and what employees need in the workplace.  It’s not that the information is wrong, it’s more that it’s not there when really needed.

That lag between training and performance has in the past been addressed by creating job aids.  Now the availability of AI-powered chatbots offers us the opportunity to transform learning support and deliver that Holy Grail of L&D: just-in-time learning to boost performance.  

The real question is not whether you should employ a learning chatbot, but whether you can afford not to?

Introducing Otto

You’ve heard of Alexa from Amazon and Siri from Apple, now it’s time to meet Learning Pool’s Otto.  

Otto is the smart assistant that lives in your company’s workflow.  It’s always available to help people perform better by facilitating quick, easy access to knowledge and learning content when they need it.  With Otto you can extend and reuse learning from your LMS.  Or you can use Otto as a knowledge base to provide swift, personalised answers to your employees’ questions.

Let’s look at some ways in which Otto can support learning in your organisation and enhance performance.Want information fast?  Just Google it and you’ve access to a worldwide repository of information.  In fact. why bother with your own learning support at all when you can leave it all to Google?

It may be that with Google and a mobile device you’re never more than a few taps away from information, but in your working environment you’re looking for a specific, correct answer, rather than all possible ones.  You’ve got a problem to solve in a limited timeframe and in a very particular context.

This is the advantage of using Otto over Google.  Otto becomes a one-stop, go-to knowledge base incorporating all your organisation’s documents, wikis, Sharepoints, and other knowledge repositories.  With Otto you can be sure your employees not only receive information fast where it’s needed, but also that it’s the right information for them to perform a specific task in specific circumstances, and in the way your organisation requires.

Otto makes training memorable

Training is often forgettable.  What we’ve learned often eludes us when we need it the most.  Experts differ on the exact figure, but as much as 50% of what you learn in a training session is left there as you walk out of the classroom or switch off your computer.  There’s a name for it: the Ebbinghaus Effect.

When so much is forgotten, the link between training and performance is often hard to quantify.  One reason is that training and learning have taken place away from the workplace, either in the classroom or via the LMS.   

Otto minimises that gap, by taking the learner taken to a learning point inside the course. It brings e-learning to the surface making the LMS invisible and delivering learning content straight to the user, effectively and efficiently.  Otto understands and responds to basic LMS commands such as ‘what courses do you have?’, ‘what am I enrolled on?’, and, ‘what’s my progress?’ It will push reminder notifications daily.  As Otto is powered by AI, employees can also ask Otto questions and have it dive into your courses and resources to provide the answer.The desire to have learning support in moments of need has long been recognised.   Job aids and quick reference guides – paper or digital – allow employees to access the information they need as they need it while continuing to work.  There’s no need to step away from the desk or into the classroom. And because learning support is targeted, employees can do their job better, quicker, and even cheaper.

But job aids are static.  If the question isn’t there or asked correctly, the answer won’t be available and there’s no other source to go to.  Now imagine the power of an-AI driven chatbot like Otto at work interrogating and searching for information.  That dynamic resource is available not only at your desk, but also on your smart device, accessible whenever you need it.  Otto can deliver assistance and accessibility 24/7.

More than that, with its ability to learn, a chatbot can be proactive, like any good mentor or trainer, anticipating what you need to know and even when you might need to know it.  It gets to know you and your needs.  Otto can revitalise learning in the workplace.  Instead of seeing learning as a discrete activity, it can now be part and parcel of the everyday working environment.  

Otto improves the quality of learning

Otto gets learning to the right people at the right time, increasing their effectiveness.  A learning chatbot like Otto improves the quality of learning by easing access, encouraging use, delivering relevance and ensuring retention of information and knowledge.  These improvements allow learning to make a bigger impact where and when you need it.

But Otto can also transform learning in the workplace in other ways by tracking the way knowledge and learning are used across an organisation.  An AI-drive bot like Otto can keep a record of all interactions.  It’s constantly learning too. If there’s a common question that keeps being asked to which the bot has no response, you learn at least two critical pieces of information: one, the answer isn’t there; and two, the question is a real one, highlighting a real training and learning need that L&D has to fill. Integrating a Virtual Assistant in the workflow means you need to move L&D into the workflow too.  With L&D within the workflow trainers and learning designers can see more clearly where their intervention can make a difference.  

Working in the workflow Otto can deliver hard data on learners’ requirements back to the learning designer.  The data gives learning designers clearer insight into how training is applied. With this feedback a learning designer can produce what learners are really asking for, instead of designing according to some notional idea of what learners ought to learn.  With this approach learners are at the centre and learning designers move closer to where actual learning takes place.

This shift towards training in the workflow allows a virtuous circle to be established whereby learners learn when they need to, and learning is reinforced. The circle is completed as the learning designers learn from the learner.  As well as being a knowledge base, Otto becomes a diagnostic tool to learn what you don’t know and which gaps you need to fill.

Otto delivers real ROI

Instructional design models like ADDIE (Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation) emphasise the need for constant evaluation, but that final element is often taken for granted or ignored as too hard to measure.  With Otto in the workflow giving you hard data on what employees need and what’s missing, you can directly measure the impact and effectiveness of L&D.  

Also, Otto gives you the opportunity to re-use and re-purpose pre-existing content in a way that gives it more impact.  The quality, relevance and effectiveness of workplace learning improve consistently.Employing Otto in the workflow means taking learning support to the point of need and giving L&D a real impact where it matters.  Otto delivers genuine just-in-time learning, but as a smart learning assistant it provides a dynamic and adaptable source of information for both employees on the job and L&D.  When employees can access knowledge when and where they need it, performance and productivity improve.

More than that Otto can live within your existing systems and apps like Slack, Facebook’s Workplace and Microsoft’s Teams, so there’s no need for a costly overhaul.  As Otto learns and adapts, its performance increases, and unlike its human counterparts it doesn’t need a break or a raise.

Introducing Otto into your organisation can create a virtuous circle of better learning leading to enhanced performance.  It delivers a real ROI from your L&D.

So, the question is not can you afford to have Otto as part of your team; it’s whether you can afford not to?

Since this article was written, we’ve been hard at work developing a new AI Learning Experience Platform – HeadstreamLXP – learn more about this exciting development here.

Paul McElvaney
Chief Executive Officer
Paul is Learning Pool’s founder and CEO. Since 2006, he has grown the business from a modest team of 5, to the success story it is today, with 7 sites and almost 200 employees. Paul’s ambitions centre on providing world-class customer care to our 750+ global clients, driving continuous innovation through Learning Pool’s product set and nurturing the talent within his team.
Paul was awarded ‘Director of the Year’, from the Institute of Directors in 2016.
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