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Cos are struggling to ensure that employees 'know what they are supposed to know': Linkstreet CEO

Updated: Sep 28, 2015 02:51:58pm
New Delhi, Sept 28 (KNN) Constant training, knowledge sharing and collaborative learning are activities critical to every organization and employee. Yet the traditional methods followed are ineffective and yield minimal ROI which cannot be measured or monitored. Thus came up, Linkstreet, a platform that addressed the lack of end-to-end solutions in the Learning & Collaboration space.
Linkstreet believes that learning is an integral part of the growth of every organization and individual. And thus enables the full create – store – manage – deliver – monetize cycle for institutionalizing your knowledge and connecting people with actionable information required to take decisions.
Knowledge and News Network spoke to Arun Muthukumar, CEO of Linkstreet about the innovative project.
Muthukumar was present in the classroom when the defining moment came for him. They were running the pilot project with Cisco at a rural government school in Tamil Nadu, a place with hardly any facilities, with students studying in Tamil medium. Muthukumar realised how being able to connect with a good teacher for their 12th standard Mathematics class impacted the students.
“The attentiveness of the students, the seriousness with which they studied…the whole experience was amazing. I stood at the back of the classroom and saw how life could change for these students by simply providing access to a good teacher,” said Muthukumar.
He was with Cisco then and since the pilot was very successful, he ended up leading a Learning Solution project and started doing projects all over the world including projects for the Karnataka government, where he saw kids who could barely speak English were at the end of 3-4 months, able to understand much more and speak 4-5 sentences comfortably.
“We completed projects in New York, Australia, Thailand, engaging with K-12 schools to Universities. These experiences illustrated to me that the application of technology was far more attractive than just creating it,” Muthukumar told us during the interview.
Muthukumar was of the view that companies are struggling to ensure that everyone in their organization ‘knows what they are supposed to know,’ – from the salesman to the factory floor worker to the manager.  On the other hand you have vendors ‘pushing boxes’ or following a piece-meal approach that does not go beyond their specific product or service or area to address the challenge that companies are facing. With the result, organizations are forced into making some very costly mistakes by vendors who push their solutions rather than a true ‘customer-first’ approach where one start with the problem and address the problem rather than starting with the technology and force fitting to the challenge at hand.
“To solve this complex problem, addressing the complete workflow is required - The creation, storage, management and delivery of knowledge across the organization,” said Muthukumar.
Muthukumar also believes that previous attempts to apply technology to solve this problem have been largely ineffective. Online learning methods have failed to become mainstream because quality content creation is a challenge; no one has the time to read pages of documents and mandated courses are done as a formality with no real learning. He elaborated on the matter saying
“Assessments involve simple checking of multiple choice questions. There is no real measurement of whether there was any improvement in knowledge, skill or productivity post the training. There is also no serious incentive for the employee to gain deep knowledge to enhance productivity or skill level.”
“Other issues are the lack of time, money and location constraints, and we want to be able to help our clients handle these barriers,” he added further.
The founders received angel funding which helped them establish the firm and grow it to a certain size. In December 2014, they raised their Series A funding from Faering Capital.
Coming up with an innovative idea and executing it simultaneously involves a lot of hindrances. Muthukumar was completely unfamiliar to what all he will come across in setting up a business and running it. Hiring, sales & marketing, educating the market about the possibilities, audits, labour laws, compliance, admin issues, and responsibility for salaries across various level etc., were things that in a large company like Cisco are taken care of by people and entire departments. These were issues that he did not previously have the experience or the responsibility for.  All this changed when Linkstreet was set up as he needed to dive right in and handle the nuts and bolts of the business.
There were plenty of rough spots along the way as well.

Giving the instances of the troubles faced, Muthukumar said, “We initially focused on the school market and it was a rude awakening as we struggled to make headway. The decision-cycle times were huge, educating school managements about the solution was very, very challenging, the decision-makers were hard to get, etc.”
“Clearly this was not a market that was ready for us, at that time. So we pivoted and went after corporates and higher-education institutions. We were able to sign on excellent clients such as IIM-B and ACE, at a somewhat early stage and this provided us a huge boost and motivated us,” said the entrepreneur.
Speaking about his journey so far, Muthukumar revealed that they have grown from 10 clients in 2013 to 40 clients in 2015. Currently , they have 50 employees and are still growing.
Talking about the SME sector Muthukumar said, “The start-up sector is growing by leaps and bounds and there is a very positive sentiment all round.”
“The environment is certainly better for start-ups; however a lot more needs to be done in terms of ensuring basic infrastructure is not a bottleneck and regulatory flip flops do not happen,” he added.
To be a leader in the corporate knowledge management space – Linkstreet plans to transform corporate learning from the current annual/quarterly training to everyday, continuous, real-time model, mobile/cloud/video enabled model. Linkstreet also aspires to “link” every student/individual, every employee/organization, and every doctor/hospital to easily “create-store-manage-deliver-monetize” knowledge. (KNN/ J)


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