Artificial Intelligence, Learning and Explosive Growth in Cannabis

Published: March 13, 2019

Author: Rob Ayre, Communications Manager, Docebo Canada Inc.

It’s a new and exciting time for the cannabis industry. The growth has been explosive for many companies in the industry and with new business opportunities opening every day, that growth is unlikely to change any time soon.

Organizations operating in the industry have a distinct need for clear communication across multiple departments and sophisticated ways of training new employees quickly to ensure compliance, efficiency and more. Companies looking to grow and capitalize need to be agile and have the ability to train employees on the latest information necessary for success.

The reality is, competition is about to get heavy when it comes to attracting (and retaining) talent. As evidence, cannabis-related job searches on the job board Indeed increased four times over from July 2017 to July 2018.

Top positions on the job board include quality assurance professionals, production assistants and maintenance technicians–roles where training is critical to long-term success, employee satisfaction and organizational growth for both  customer and partner satisfaction.

Learning & Development During this Time of Growth

The Learning and Development (L&D) industry has been stagnating technologically, resting on their laurels since the advent of the learning management system. Recently however this has started to change thanks to the introduction of new and exciting technologies.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is making waves across industries and, when it comes to enterprise learning, has incredible potential to increase engagement and knowledge retention while dramatically improving the lives of L&D admins by automating various menial administrative tasks. The impact will be most felt in areas including content discoverability, categorization, content creation and more. However, there are also many ways that have yet to be seen or considered that will begin to make an impact once AI has time to crawl more and derive more data related to learning platforms and the activities of the learners within it.

Oftentimes AI is discussed in abstract, theoretical terms, so it’s important to provide concrete examples of how the technology is put to use practically. Take, for example, the idea of a virtual coach.  Through algorithms developed via a finely-tuned combination of machine learning, natural language processing and deep search, learners will soon be able to ask their learning platform to suggest courses that will improve their learning path. The Virtual Coach will then analyze their progress, understand areas in which that person may need to improve and recommend courses they should take based on their individual learning objectives. Eventually the Virtual Coach could even consider areas along the learning path that can be skipped if the content is unnecessary or repetitive, optimizing and deepening the personalization of learning even further.

Given enough time, an AI-fueled learning platform will know the learners better than they know themselves. The ability to recommend the exact courses learners need, at the exact time they need them serves to optimize career growth opportunities with learning while ensuring their organization has the best talent. Doing so improves an employer’s likelihood of improving engagement rates with learning, which ultimately improves knowledge retention, employee performance and helps organizations keep top talent around longer.

Artificial Intelligence Delivers Automated and Personalized Learning (at Scale)

Personalization in a corporate environment was once unheard of. Employees were just a drop in the sea of an organization’s workforce and “one-size-fits-all” was the mantra. Now AI is changing the rules entirely – and for the better. The lines between our personal and professional lives are becoming blurred thanks to smart technology, which is shifting expectations towards more personalized experiences. Think about how we now shop or watch TV online. It only makes sense that these same principles could be translated into applications within business systems.

In the enterprise learning space, this is a major topic of conversation and L&D leaders have a distinct appetite to make their learning activities increasingly automated and personalized.

Artificial intelligence, which combines data collection and technologies such as machine learning, bring automated and personalized learning to life by being truly responsive to individual learner needs. With AI powering your learning platform, you can take advantage of a system that adapts intelligently to users’ requests and allows them to take control of their own learning. As an admin, there are significant opportunities to automate and eliminate tedious tasks such as course enrollment, content categorization and answering learner queries.

The Age of the Millennial and Gen Z Workforce

It will come as no surprise that millennials and Gen-Zers are flocking to the cannabis industry and are looking to capitalize on the explosive growth, but with that comes specific training needs that must be considered to ensure organizations are successful in managing the careers of the demographics. As a cohort, both millennials and Gen-Zers come with unique challenges, and in competitive job landscape one of the most pressing issues comes with retention. In fact, 21 per cent of millennials say they’ve changed jobs within the past year–more than three times the number of non-millennials.

So how do you fight that trend and give both generations what they want? It could very well all start with proper training. With 35% of millennials indicating a strong training and development program as the most desirable quality in a workplace, it’s safe to assume that millennial employee turnover rates are directly related to their employer’s ability to meet their needs when it comes to learning and development. Additionally, organizations need to provide training through platforms that younger demographics are most likely to engage with and that fit most naturally into their daily lives without being overly intrusive. A study by Wikia reveals that 76% of Gen-Zers believe technology will help them reach their goals, while more than two-thirds think it will empower them to do anything they so please career-wise. Both of these demographic groups are mobile-first and if you can’t provide your training via a mobile device, they will be much harder to engage in training activities as it will be difficult to build training into the flow of work.

They’re also entrepreneurial, especially as it relates to content creation. From a social media perspective, Gen-Z is the fuel powering the engines of industry heavyweights such as Instagram and Snapchat. Millennials and Gen-Zers powered the generational switch that has enabled YouTube to overtake traditional television and create real-world, self-made stars through its platform. A study from Wikia and Ipsos MediaCT revealed that more than 60% of Gen-Zers share knowledge online in the form of YouTube videos, blog entries, or Medium articles, a blogging platform that can be used by anyone to publish blogs. Again, this is the result of an incredible appetite for collaboration and continuous improvement.

Cannabis organizations clearly need to provide training, but even more so they need to provide the training in ways that work with the demographic expectations and easily facilitate mobile learning. Other considerations include the knowledge sharing for the learner, robust reporting, skills gap analysis and whether the admin experience is simple and efficient.

All of this needs to be powered by artificial intelligence to ensure learner data isn’t being thrown away and wasted but instead is being actively used by the organization to increase knowledge capital, train employees more efficiently and help to drive overall company growth in a highly-competitive, complex and chaotic market.