Firms need to ensure employees are well-versed in the latest trends to stay ahead of the competition. Conferences are usually the first choice for a company wanting to update and inspire employees. Physically attending a conference is both expensive and time-consuming and they can extend to several days. Given the commitments firms make for such training and exposure, an employee may be discouraged from cutting their losses if the seminar is ineffective or irrelevant, exacerbating the resource misallocation.
“He’s 12-years old, and I was worried he was getting addicted to video games online, but addiction is true for anybody. You could spend hours on cat videos. But he was picking up all these skills. He was designing logos.”
“If it is an online course, you would only pay a fraction, and you could stop it after half an hour if it’s not useful,” says Amal Sanderatne, who heads Sri Lanka’s most significant corporate economic research firm. Using online learning programs, employees at Frontier Research, who hail mainly from economics or finance backgrounds, have learned to code and develop critical services for the firm.
Sanderatne encouraged online learning at Frontier Research after realising the benefits of its flexibility and accessibility from his son. “He’s 12-years old, and I was worried he was getting addicted to video games online, but addiction is true for anybody. You could spend hours on cat videos. But he was picking up all these skills. He was designing logos. There’s phenomenal stuff online.”
Sanderatne, who was educated at the London School of Economics, says that the high calibre of online learning would even rival the education he received at an elite university. He believes that affordable, quality education would go a long way towards creating more opportunities for the less privileged. Passionate about the cause, Sanderatne is attempting to kick off a new vertical at Frontier Research to monetise online learning. Initially, the services will be available to the firm’s 70 clients, most of which are Sri Lanka’s largest companies.
Accredited online learning services to the public are far off in the future. Frontier Research will address the fundamental problems deterring corporates from adopting online learning: credibility, relevance and commitment. It hopes to do this with the same ethos underlying its research, in a time-efficient and action-oriented manner. The firm will deliver online courses in a structured setting to minimise distractions and curate content which is relevant to the Sri Lankan private sector. The trust Frontier Research has built, with a 95% customer retention rate, will be crucial to the success of the new venture.