CLO Symposium Recap: AI is the Next Step in Corporate Training

CLO Symposium Recap: AI is the Next Step in Corporate Training

I recently had the pleasure of attending CLO’s first in-person Symposium since the pandemic. As a CLO editorial board member, I’ve experienced 30+ Symposium events in the last 22 years, but this year’s event was special. There was a real sense of excitement and anticipation about connecting face-to-face after a few years of virtual events. 

Like every conference I’ve attended recently, almost every session at CLO Symposium 2023 touched on an element of AI. For several sessions, it was the dominant theme.

Chief Learning Officers lead the way in developing corporate training programs at some of the largest companies in the world. AI is top of mind for them as they observe its immediate impact on workforce and talent development and acquisition efforts. These leaders want to know how they can prepare their organizations to be successful in an AI-forward future. And higher education should be paying attention.

Yes, AI Will Be a Major Disruptor 

The overwhelming sentiment among event attendees and presenters is that AI will be a significant disruptor—even more so than the internet due to the anticipated speed of adoption. 

As with any disruptive technology, AI will replace certain roles once filled by humans. However, we’ve all seen time and again that while new technologies result in job losses, they also lead to the creation of new ones. This process will almost certainly occur as AI becomes more mainstream. 

Particular sectors and roles are more at risk than others, and not all will be impacted equally or simultaneously. One emerging job function that is likely to be highly valued going forward is prompt engineering, which McKinsey describes as “the practice of designing inputs for generative AI tools that will produce optimal results.” 

Corporate Training Opportunity: Leverage AI for Coaching and Mentoring

CLO Symposium 2023 attendees approached AI’s potential to disrupt their organizations with an understandable mix of curiosity and trepidation. There were many discussions about the role AI can play in augmenting coaching and mentoring initiatives, which corporate training leaders have emphasized for well over a decade as best practices for developing people’s skills and competencies.

Sal Khan of Khan Academy touched on this topic in a 2023 TED Talk, providing “a glimpse of a new era—one where every student has access to an AI-powered personal tutor and every teacher has an AI teaching assistant.” Imagine the potential of an always-on, always-available tutoring resource. As AI further develops, that resource could be personalized and tailored to an individual’s path to learning and development. 

Many corporate learning leaders agree it’s best to approach AI’s potential for disruption with a spirit of exploration and experimentation, asking the question: “How can we include AI in relation to workforce development and prepare to embrace it successfully in our organizations?”

Why Higher Ed Leaders Should Attend the Next CLO Symposium

Another takeaway from CLO Symposium 2023 was that there were very few higher education leaders in attendance—a real missed opportunity if you ask me. 

Most of the schools MindMax works with acknowledge that their B2C approach to attracting adult students to open-enrollment classes for continuing and professional education is insufficient. That’s why one of our standard recommendations is that they incorporate a B2B component by partnering with the business sector to develop corporate training programs.

I strongly encourage higher ed leaders to attend the next CLO Symposium. It’s a tremendous opportunity to learn more about what’s happening in workforce and talent development across larger organizations. 

My fellow CLO editorial board members and I have discussed the idea of providing nonprofit pricing to make next year’s event more accessible for higher ed and other nonprofit organizations. If that’s something you’d be interested in, please drop me a line and let me know.

Curious about what topics I’m covering as a CLO editorial board member? Check out my archive